Leadership Paves Way to Future

by NSEA President Jenni Benson

When I started my leadership journey many years ago, I relied on other, more experienced leaders who had paved the way ahead of me. They shared their expertise and knowledge, and I grew by watching and learning from their experience.

I have always believed that it is important to share my gratitude for those who taught me, those who fostered my leadership abilities. I also believe it is important for you, as an NSEA member, to understand the work being done each day on your behalf by your leadership teams at the local, district and state levels.

Today, I extend heartfelt thanks to my presidential predecessor, Nancy Fulton. Three years ago she decided it was time for Association leaders to conduct an in-depth review of NSEA’s Strategic Plan. The plan was written in 1993 and had not been updated since. Think about it: when the plan was written, cell phones were essentially nonexistent. Self-driving cars were science fiction. Taylor Swift was 4; Bruno Mars was 7!

The strategic plan, 20 years old when Nancy acted, was in dire need of revision.

Huge Undertaking

Nancy assigned Paul Schulte, then a member of the NEA Board of Directors and today your Association’s vice president, and myself – then NSEA vice president – as co-chairs of the committee appointed to review and update the plan.

To be honest, I questioned why Nancy would want to update a plan she would not be present to implement. It was a huge undertaking, and took much time and work.  Today, as NSEA’s president, I can say Nancy was a visionary in her thinking. She wanted to leave NSEA with a very specific direction for the Association’s future, and we now have that road map. I am grateful every day for the work she led.

To start that process, Paul and I, along with the NSEA Board of Directors, received training. We then spent two years collecting data, surveying, listening and visiting with members across the state.

Last year members at the 2017 Delegate Assembly voted unanimously to accept the NSEA Strategic Plan’s goals and outcomes with the understanding we would develop our budget to meet the plan. We did not change our mission, vision or core values. Under NSEA’s Mission Statement, we continue to advocate for all education professionals, empowering them to provide an excellent public education for every student.

Wise Use of Dues

Since Delegate Assembly, the NSEA Board of Directors and NSEA staff has worked to add activities to the goals. NSEA Executive Director Maddie Fennell has led staff through hours reviewing the work they do for members and how that work fits into each goal. The board added input to revise and enhance the process. The staff and board eventually met and worked together to finalize the activities and to add descriptions to each.

This year at Delegate Assembly the NSEA’s budget will be presented as goals based on the updated Strategic Plan. Under each goal will be activities, reflected as a cost item in the budget. NSEA Comptroller Sheri Jablonski has had the Herculean task of formulating the 2018-19 budget to reflect the Strategic Plan’s goals. This format reflects our strong respect for the wise use of your dues dollars.

Today, NSEA has a fresh and comprehensive Strategic Plan. It guides our work and advocacy each day. I hope you will join us at the 2018 Delegate Assembly to learn and grow on your journey to leadership.