BLOG: Growing Leaders
One great thing about DreamWrights is the opportunity it gives for leadership. DreamWrights is bubbling over with opportunities for personal growth. One example of this is found in our current and former teen board leaders.
DreamWrights began in 1997 and from the start, children, teens and adults of varying backgrounds and experiences were engaged from the grass roots, shoulder to shoulder, building, learning, and experimenting. As the board of directors of DreamWrights was formally organized that year, it seemed obvious to include three teens in addition to the 14 adults that would serve.
The teens provided a voice that was respected and encouraged. Alex Bitzer (teen board member in 2010) agrees, “Everyone brings something to the table that will help the board. Your field of expertise and previous experience will be helpful to the board, whatever it is.” Taylor Slusser’s (2011) experience was similar. “There were many times that the other members looked to us for insight on how they could reach out to our age group and what the best social media platform for that would be.”
Being on the board expanded the horizons of the teens as well. It gave them a broader perspective and greater appreciation for running a business. Carter Anstine (2014) remembers, “Being on the board taught me that there are many things that make up an organization and that it's like a puzzle, the organization is trying to fit the pieces together to make it run as smoothly and successfully as possible.”
Joseph Nabholz (2003) elaborates, “It was a continuation of all of the other work that we did at the theater. We talk a lot in the theater about the importance of all the preparatory and backstage work that is "unseen" to mount a show. Being on the board was the backstage to the backstage, so to say. It taught me, implicitly, how enterprises exist in the world. It also prepared for me the various hiring committees that I sat on through college, school faculty meetings where I work, and other types of clubs I've been affiliated ever since.”
Sarah Hricik (2001) says that her board position gave her the opportunity to see how a board functioned, and how adults intelligently discussed a variety of issues. “The biggest thing I learned was the importance of presenting the benefits of an idea. Other people will help to find the flaws-they'll also help you to sort them out and strengthen the plan, especially if they're DreamWrights people-but the best ideas begin from a positive place.”
As far as the board experience preparing these young people for future endeavors, Sarah relates, “There are many times, even today, when I sit down at a big table with several people who are older and wiser than me. It can be intimidating! Serving on the board helped me to find my voice and approach these situations with confidence. Even when I'm the least knowledgeable person in the room, there are still ways that I can contribute. It's been particularly helpful for job interviews!”
Alex was encouraged by his experience, “It is definitely worthwhile because you get to help DreamWrights in a new way. You can learn things about the organization you never knew even after years of volunteering. If you're worried that you might not be able to handle it all, remember that you have an excellent group serving with you. Fellow board members can always help out or answer questions.”
Taylor, who now runs her own business, also discovered her inner leadership skills as a teen board member. “Being a member of the board as a teen, gives you a sense of leadership and responsibility in the community that you’re a part of and I feel like these skills are still very much important in my life now. I just graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Kutztown University with a concentration in Photography and I plan to have my own Photo Studio Business that I’ve been building for a while now.” With running her own business, Taylor says that since she doesn’t have anyone telling her what to do, she relies on those leadership and responsibility skills that she learned years ago at DreamWrights. She also pays it forward. “I’m constantly focused on reaching out to the community around me to make a difference in our town.”
Wow. These kids (turned young adults) are impressive! Bravo to Taylor, Alex, Joseph, Carter, Sarah, and all of our current and former teen board members! DreamWrights is honored and fortunate to have your participation. We greatly value your voice.
If you are interested in participating as a teen board member, please contact Executive Director, Ann Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.