Working hard for Forum excellence

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Working hard for Forum excellence

Postby eleni » Mon May 01, 2006 01:41 am

This Forum has undergone several changes over its 3 year history, always in an attempt to steer toward our mission of providing solid preeclampsia information and emotional support in real time. Recently, we had an opportunity to step back and look at some longer-term solutions, not just intermittent course corrections. Our ultimate goal is to stay true to our mission, but it is incredibly important that we not lose sight of those very people we serve -- the women and their families who have suffered through preeclampsia, sometimes resulting in tragic loss, ongoing health concerns, psychological distress and more.

Our mission is to stop senseless illness and death of moms and babies by improving diagnosis and patient care, developing new health care practices, and helping women through the impact of preeclampsia. That is what we are most passionate about AND what we can be the best in the world at. The forum is one of the most publicly visible means of addressing a good portion of that mission. Our forum is not the only one in the world where preeclampsia information is shared among members, but it is the best in the world. We will always strive to keep our support efforts at that level of excellence.

As the PF's Director of Support, Laura Muller is charged with that task, among others. She has been a valuable leader at the PF for many years and we are thankful for her continuing leadership.

Changes will always be necessary in this - as in any - organization. Our goal, however, is to make any transitions respectful, proactive and as seamless as possible. We also operate under the principle of "measurable results" which means that we will always evaluate any programs and services in a quantitative as well as qualitative way. We're still looking at the impact of our recent changes on the Forum and will adjust accordingly. Based on lessons learned, we've also developed some new practices moving forward.

More PF communication to all volunteers. It's clear that while we're working in the background to get and keep the organization functioning effectively, developing strategic plans, forming alliances, organizing national events, staying on top of medical developments, and on and on, that we've not been as good about communicating what's going on to the members and active volunteers of the PF. I've taken the approach that since I only have a limited number of hours, I'd rather spend it accomplishing something rather than talking about accomplishing something. Sadly, I consider myself a professional communicator. [:I] I think a great deal of the frustration over this and other issues, is the lack of "official" communications from me as Chair of the Board (and Acting Director). In the future, this communication will come from occasional postings in the forum providing some organizational updates, but we are also getting ready to launch our first "Volunteer News" newsletter that will help address the need for broader, official communications from all our departments.

Moving quickly when expediency is necessary. The forum admins and mods are already great about doing this, as certain postings need immedate responses or action taken. This will continue.

Moving more slowly when major changes have to be made to ensure we've collected all the info we need and to communicate proactivly and effectively throughout the organization and membership.

Develop a Forum Advisory Council that includes a good cross section of forum users from different "lifestages", and also people from outside our forum who are instrumental in other successful forums. This group will also oversee the conducting of an annual survey, and be able to provide some objective perspective to the the forum administrator, either on request or if it feels things are getting off track. The FAC can also serve as a sounding board re: forum administration (almost like an Ombudsman).

Formal and mandatory training and education for almost all volunteers, certainly for those who require certain skill sets or knowledge base. Organizational growth requires a solid training program to ensure that those coming up through the ranks are maintaining or even exceeding the standards set at the beginning. An online interactive module on the topic of preeclampsia, a technical module that walks new moderators through the operation of the forum, as well as guided tour of the content, including how to navigate the rich archived information. If you have other ideas for volunteer training, please submit your ideas to Laura ([email protected]) or Carol Hamilton ([email protected]), our Director of Volunteer Development.

Volunteer job descriptions that outline scope of responsibilities and time commitment will be developed for all key positions. This is as much for your benefit as ours -- it is not fair to hold you accountable, even as a volunteer, without being clear what is expected of you.

Feel free to provide feedback on any of these ideas or others you may have. And especially, please be patient with us -- did I remind you that we're all volunteers, too? -- as we work to implement these changes.

It is because you all care so deeply about preeclampsia that we are here. Many of us have lost children or loved ones and want to deal with that pain and help others deal with it as we grow with new members. The ultimate wish is that, someday, no family will ever have to suffer the way we have.

Warmest regards,
Eleni Tsigas
Chairman of the Board
Acting Executive Director

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