The application process is wrapping up for the 2022 PRSA Board of Directors. PRSA is seeking candidates to fill three available Executive Committee positions, as well as director positions for five Districts and one director-at-large position. Applications are due May 25. Find details here.
In 2010, as a student, I was elected to serve as the vice president of career services on the PRSSA National Committee. (Except, then, we called it “internships and jobs.”) At our International Conference that year, the Committee met with the PRSA Board of Directors for lunch. I was so inspired by my conversations with them and the amount of time they spent speaking to each of us.
These were the most incredible people I’d ever met and I knew then that I wanted to be just like them one day. Fast forward a few years to 2017 and I had the chance to do just that — serving first as a senior counselor to PRSA Chair Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, and later as a director-at-large. (At the time, I was the youngest-ever addition to the PRSA Board of Directors.)
My time with the Board was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Here are a few reasons why you should also consider applying for a Board position:
Have an opportunity to give back.
This can’t be overstated: Volunteering is one of the best ways to leave the world better than you found it. Joining an organization like PRSA plugs you into a wider movement of organized leaders striving each day to make a difference. As a Board member, you’ll have the opportunity to lead and set an example of service for others in the industry.
Invest in the future.
I say this often to my mentees and colleagues: Build the future you want. The future is a result of our actions today, and we have the power to shape it into what we want it to be. Joining the PRSA Board gives you the opportunity to advocate for change at the highest levels of the profession.
As a Board member, you will have an opportunity to influence industry awards, education, professional certifications, learning and development, and more. While I was on the Board, we established a Technology Committee and voted to create an innovation fund that would allow us to invest in future technology and better serve our members for many years to come.
Find mentors and mentor others.
The first lesson of mentorship is that mentorship goes both ways. In my time on the Board, I met incredible people that have become close friends and mentors. These are the people I call with tough questions or when I need someone to challenge my thinking. Similarly, those in leadership need people that will challenge them (positively) and provide strategic counsel. (This reminds me of a favorite proverb: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”)
Change the status quo.
We can’t make progress without innovation, and we can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results. My policy has always been to encourage people to volunteer when they have strong opinions about changes that need to happen to advance the organization. As volunteers, it’s important to challenge the status quo in a productive, helpful way to move the organization forward.
One of the hardest jobs for the nominating committee is finding a balance between Board members and finding people that bring alternate perspectives and experiences. If you think you bring a different perspective than what’s represented on the Board, then be sure to highlight that in your interview.
Advance diversity and advocacy.
While we recognize that there is always more work to be done, PRSA continues to make progress in this area, and the current Board is one of the more diverse Boards in the history of the organization. The Board should reflect the community it represents and advocate for the professionals that comprise it. While I was on the Board, we also established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, funded research, and created programming and educational resources to drive long-term change. PRSA is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion within the PR profession, and it starts with the Board.
If you’re a person that naturally sees a path forward through adversity or enjoys creative problem solving, then Board service is for you. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience.
Scott W. Thornburg, APR, is the global director of public relations for Sojern, a travel marketing technology company. He’s a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. Scott served on the PRSA Board of Directors as an at-large director from 2018-2019. He currently serves as a Board advisor to PRSA Silicon Valley.
[Photo by albert chau, 2017]