Monday, January 20, 2014

Leadership Spotlight - Linda Hanson

Why did you join PTA?

When one of the most well-liked moms at my daughter’s school asked me to become a member of PTA, I joined to get to know my daughter’s friends and their parents and the teachers at the school. I knew that being involved in my daughter’s education was important.

How did you progress from being a PTA member to Washington State PTA president?

A few years after becoming a member, the PTA at my daughter’s school was experiencing some difficulties in finding people willing to serve on the board of directors. At that point, I offered to serve as co-president, but wasn’t planning to ever stand up and talk at a general meeting.  As a co-president, I received the training offered by the State PA and my eyes were opened about the potential of the PTA to work with the district, community and state to achieve great things for kids. I started to attend council meetings and had a greater desire to learn and grow as a PTA leader. The PTA region director must have recognized my enthusiasm because she asked me if I would be willing to participate on the region service delivery team. The goals of this team is to education and assist over 140 PTAs units in our region. I was surprised how much I actually learned about PTA and leadership by attending region conferences, council trainings and our state legislative assemblies and conventions. I was able share my experiences and lessons learned with others to help them succeed!

After serving on the service delivery team, I was nominated and elected region director and became a member of the Washington State PTA board of directors. At this point, the bigger picture of PTA was clear—no other organization represents the whole child, parent engagement, advocacy, programs, health, safety, welfare, and education – than PTA.  Following my term as region director, I was elected state leadership director. This gave me an opportunity to shape the leadership development the state PTA offers our PTA members and leaders. This position helped prepare me for my next position in state PTA leadership—state PTA president, which was such an honor and privilege!

How has your PTA training and experience helped you in your professional development?

No other organization trains members and leaders the same way we do in PTA. The skills we learn carries over into our parenting, marriages, friendships, and other board service in our community. The skills we learn in PTA carries over into career opportunities we never dreamed about pursuing. What we learn in PTA through classes, conferences, each other, and being on the ground in our schools are life skills. PTA helped me become a better person and is a gift I will forever cherish.
 The knowledge and skills I gained through PTA has personally has made a significant impact on my professional life. After my presidency for WSPTA I started a consulting firm. I now train other nonprofit boards on boardsmanship, leadership development, strategic planning, nonprofit law, best practices, conflict resolution, and advocacy legislative work. All of these skills I learned through PTA.

Why do you continue to volunteer for the WSPTA?

Ever since my state PTA presidency, I have been involved on various National PTA committees. The state presidents who followed me allowed me the privilege of continuing to serve at our state level with appointments to co-chair the Simple Majority Campaign, chair of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and now convention chair. Often I am asked why I still volunteer so much of my time with PTA for over 20 years. PTA is in my heart; it is a part of me. PTA changes the lives of children and youth. It creates lasting memories and provides opportunities for youth they might have otherwise missed. Why do I continue to volunteer for the WSPTA? Why wouldn't I?