I spent this past week at the National Association of Government Communicators 2018 Communication School held in Cape Coral, Florida. Like all of the previous NAGC events I have attended over my career, it was a wonderful experience with excellent training sessions and the opportunity to network with so many other fantastic fellow professionals in government communication careers.
Although we only see each other once a year, the camaraderie and friendship that has developed between many of the attendees is heartwarming. Spending time with these friends is one of the things that makes this event so very special to me. And, of course, making new friends each and every time as well. Many of us stay in touch throughout the year between conferences to share stories, consult each other and ask advice on issues and challenges, and just to have someone to bitch with that only a fellow in the career field could understand. That’s the power of this organization and why I have been a volunteer member of the Board of Directors for over a dozen years, serving in a variety of roles.
About 14 years ago, I attended my first NAGC Communication School, and was immediately enamored by the applicability and appropriateness of everything I learned, as well as the instant bond among members and attendees. I haven’t missed an event yet. When I was asked to fill a vacancy as Communication Director about 12 years ago, I jumped at the opportunity. I subsequently ran for and was elected to several different positions over the years, including president.
On Thursday, NAGC installed the new officers, marking the end of my time as the Association’s Immediate-Past President and my farewell to the Board of Directors. Kathryn Stokes, who was replaced by Chris O’Neill as NAGC’s president, and thus replaces me as the immediate-past president, brought tears to everyone’s eyes with her tearful farewell. I must admit I choked up myself and for the first time, found it difficult to speak. And not just once, but multiple times.
It was so amazing as people came up to me throughout the day relating stories about when we first met or how I had convinced them to join the association. Someone reminded me that I was responsible for recruiting the past three NAGC presidents (four if you include myself) to the association and then convincing them to run for a position on the Board. I guess we don’t realize how many people we touch throughout our lives.
As I said at the School and have said it many times in the past – joining NAGC was the first best decision of my career. The second was accepting an appointment to the Board of Directors. The whole experience has been professionally and personally rewarding, has made me better at my job, introduced terrific friends into my life, and opened doors to amazing adventures.
I encourage everyone in a communication position for a government agency at any level – federal, state, or local – to become a member of NAGC. And not just a member, but an active member. Take advantage of the webinars, training, and networking events. Enter the awards programs, or serve as a judge, providing guidance for your peers. Be active in the new forums where we can learn from each other. Participate on a committee or run for a leadership position on the Board of Directors.
You won’t regret it. I don’t.
Although I am stepping out of a leadership position with NAGC after 12 years, I won’t exactly be going away. Of course I will continue to attend and participate in all the events, and likely will serve on a committee or working group or two. And I will continue to develop our international partnerships.
Yeah, I’m addicted to NAGC. They’re not quite rid of me yet.