Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Senior Sage Leadership: Interview of Keith Porter

Senior Sage Leadership: Interview of Keith Porter

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8. What is the name of the one organization on the list in which you are most involved and committed? Were you invited to become involved or did you  approach the organization and volunteer your services? Are you paid or unpaid? On average, how many hours a month do you give to this organization?

I am Board President of InConcert Sierra and was originally invited to be on the board. I am unpaid, and probably 120 of the 150 hours of my volunteer work are devoted to that organization.

9. I’d like to learn more about your involvement in this organization by asking four questions.

First, describe the leadership role that you play within the organization.

In my role as Board President, I do whatever needs attention. We have a very capable staff, but we are understaffed for the level of work that exists. So I do a bit of office work, with lots of set-up and take down for concerts. I am also the concert coordinator, which includes putting together the volunteers. And I am the organization’s “cheerleader,” where a sense of humor is important because people in a volunteer organization tend to do what they want rather than what may be needed. So I cajole, encourage, and beg a lot. And I jump in when someone else fails or doesn’t want to do what is needed—all the time expressing appreciation for what volunteers are willing to do. As president I asked a committee to help develop a strategic plan, but in reality I have done most of it myself and presented the results at a board retreat.

Second, in what ways do you believe you have most helped the organization?  

I most helped when I came on to the board about two years ago thinking I would serve on the board for a while and eventually take on a leadership role. But when I arrived the board was in a crisis that split the board and a number of people left. People asked me to stand for the board presidency in a contested election, and I was elected. Guiding the organization through that was extremely critical, and I am proud that we got through the transition with no permanent scars or breakage even when there was some hostility, anger, conflict, and some board members leaving. In the end, those who left were good losses in the sense that they didn’t share the organization’s vision. I was also able to resolve the remaining dynamics of various board factions. We do not have any residual bad feelings; some people may not particularly like each other but no one is out to sabotage the organization or speak badly of it. So I think as the result of this transition and a lot of hard work by many, the organization has ascended to a higher level in the last several years.

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