A Message from IDA Branch Leadership

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April-May 2015

Branch Leadership: A New Sense of Optimism Emerges at Spring Meeting

This is an exciting time to be a part of IDA! Having just returned from the spring IDA Board/Branch Council meeting, I can report that there is a renewed sense of optimism about our future direction that I have not seen since I first became involved with IDA. With Rick Smith as our new executive director, we have dynamic leadership at the IDA home office. Rick not only brings a wealth of experience in leading large national health associations, but also a significant understanding of the perspective from the field. In addition to Rick, we also welcomed fourteen new branch leaders at this meeting.

“The Power of Mindsets,” the theme of the meeting, created a positive tone from the beginning by acknowledging the idea that our beliefs go a long way toward shaping and changing our future. To underscore this idea, Rick gave an opening-night presentation on “Destiny Driven Leadership.” A central tenet of this approach is a willingness to challenge and break the rules in order to create paradigm shifts. Rick cited a number of leaders in different fields who defied the conventional thinking of their times. One well-known example is Roger Bannister, the British athlete who broke the four-minute mile in running, even though most people thought it never could be done. An example closer to our field is the leadership of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, who found an unorthodox way to fund research that extended the lifespan of children with the disease and changed their futures.

Attendees were treated to an inspirational talk by Brad Tyra, an Olympic track cyclist who shared his story of living with dyslexia while never giving up on his dreams. Brad is currently a graduate student at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Brad has offered to serve as an ambassador for IDA. In this capacity, he will put the IDA logo on his training and racing jerseys to raise awareness of dyslexia; he also has offered to help branches in other ways.

The concept of destiny driven leadership was further explored the next day by branch leaders, IDA board members, and the IDA home office staff through a series of questions and discussions that had us all envisioning what IDA could be. While the exercise encouraged bold thinking and brainstorming, the discussion groups addressed the practical matter of raising funds through a signature event (e.g., a bike race that would engage bike clubs around the country). This “team-in-training” concept was developed by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and it turned the organization around financially.

Inspirational and motivational are the words many attendees used to describe this spring meeting. I know I speak for many in expressing enthusiasm and excitement about the year ahead. I can’t wait to be a part of it and to see what transpires!

Jennifer Topple
Chair, Branch Council Executive Committee
IDA Board Member