Wednesday, 28 May 2003

MADISON, Wis.

I began the day with a bit of puttering in the garden. Though the weather forecast had predicted overnight rain, there was only a trace more water in the rain barrel. The sunflower crop looks promising, if a bit on the dry side, so I hit the young plants with a quick watering before leaving for work. Yesterday’s final executive director interviews went well. The candidates we interviewed were very well-qualified, and the final decision will be difficult. Local Group Assistance Program Manager Diana Toledo has been very capably holding down two jobs here, piloting the River Alliance of Wisconsin while continuing to run the Local Groups program. Without an executive director, we have all had the opportunity to pitch in on grant writing, media efforts, and related work. It has been a good opportunity to grow closer and to add to our skills, but we’re looking forward to having a new director on board soon.

During the interviews, the executive director candidates have been asking staff about the River Alliance’s work and the role each of us plays. The five of us have very different jobs, but there are a variety of projects to which we all contribute ideas and energy. We enjoy brainstorming together, and I’m always impressed by the diversity of perspectives we bring to these confabs and the ideas we cook up. Mike brings his valuable dual background in law and music. Helen lends her top-notch ecologist training and refreshing Canadian perspective, Diana, her great wisdom and knowledge about regional and national resources, and Otis his computer wizardry and marketing savvy. For my part, I contribute networking contacts, paddling know-how (which comes in especially handy when we’re doing on-water events), and incurable optimism. Among us, we have a wealth of ideas and connections.

Dueling laptops: Mike and Otis take notes during the strategic planning retreat.

Photo: Lisa Goodman.

July 2003 will mark our organization’s 10th anniversary. In those 10 years, we have grown to seven full-time staff, plus several part-time interns. We enjoy the support of more than 1,700 individual and business members and nearly 50 organizational members. With our board of directors, we have been working to establish a slate of 10th anniversary events and projects. The most significant of these will be our 10th Anniversary Dinner, on November 15. We are working to identify and book a prominent keynote speaker for that event. The annual dinner program will also include the presentation of River Champion awards and a silent auction. Months of preparation go into lining up auction donations, seeking award nominees, and handling the many details that go with staging such an event. We all pitch in to make it come together.

We are also collectively involved in writing the River Alliance strategic plan for the next three years, as our current plan will expire in 2003. In April, we held a retreat with our board to begin to address 2004 to 2006. It’s exciting to be involved in charting the course for the organization and our program for the coming years. During the next few months, we will work to finalize the plan, and we will be ready to begin implementing it in 2004.

Today, I’m preparing for a meeting with one of our major funders and continuing to work with northern river groups to schedule organizational assessments. Our board chair just walked in for an impromptu meeting, so more on this tomorrow.