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Sep 26

Considering Kindness As We Move Into Fall

Posted on September 26, 2023 at 4:21 PM by Karen Lee

The second weekend in September, I found myself traveling once again – this time to beautiful southern California to attend the annual IIMC budget committee meeting. Usually, the budget committee meeting is full of lively discussion and compromises. This year was no exception, but overall, the process went very smoothly. A special thank you to our budget committee chair, Terri Kowal, who kept our meetings focused and on-track.  I am pleased to report that IIMC is in good financial condition and a budget has been prepared to present to the Board of Directors.  I hope the Board will consider and adopt the committee’s recommendations.

As always, I was again struck by the professionalism of our IIMC staff. Their ideas for improvement and commitment to our organization are limitless. I appreciate them far more than my words can express.

Many thanks to our education department which has launched the Education Plus Program and on-line courses, organized our speakers and program for our conference in Calgary, and implemented a new portal system which has tripled the number of CMC’s and MMC’s certifications. Hats off to Dr. Bea Rodriguez, Dr. Jai Ulrich, and Iris Hill for bringing a breath of fresh air to our educational programs and conferences. I am very excited about the changes and additions to next year’s annual conference in Calgary.

The membership department is busy keeping up with this very impressive number of new CMC’s and MMC’s. Janis Daudt and Tammie Storrie have added these new members and certified members to their already full plates. I am always so impressed by them at conference. They appear so calm and collected, never complaining or frazzled; they are truly everywhere, all at once.

Supporting them are the financial and communication departments. We already miss Maria Miranda but wish her the very best in her much-deserved retirement. We welcome Marlena Hernandez to this position and look forward to meeting her at the Mid-Year Board Meeting in Orlando. Janet Pantaleon has her hands full, training both Marlena and the new part-time finance person, Shannon Kane. We appreciate their hard work in keeping us financially sound.

Making me look better than I really am, both on-screen and on-paper, is Karen Lee, our communications expert. I thank her for thinking outside the box and creating new ways to reach out and communicate with our members.

Of course, I have enjoyed working with our Executive Director Chris Shalby. He has been so easy to work with. I have discovered many things about Chris -- like how he absolutely despises a glass of milk to how committed and protective he is of IIMC. We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated leader of our organization.  

I always have a good time traveling to our IIMC headquarters in Rancho Cucamonga. Part of it of course, is visiting with the other members of the Executive Committee. The more time I spend with these ladies, the more I appreciate them. First there is our President-Elect Lisa Garcia, who is my opposite. With her vivaciousness and her powerful can-do attitude, she has proven that there is nothing she cannot do and a stranger to no one. She has been through so much in her lifetime and lives her life fearlessly. I admire her ability to step into any situation with her head held up high. “I am woman, hear me roar”. There is so much we can learn from her. We are in for an exciting year in 2024-2025.

Then there is our Vice President Dawn Abrahamson and of course, her precious dog Every. For someone who has a hearing disability, she hears more and listens better than anyone else I have ever met. Her years of wisdom and experience in life and as a City Clerk will be a wonderful asset to IIMC. Her kindness and thoughtfulness will be her hallmark during her year as President.

And then there is our Past President Pamela Smith. This is a relationship I will treasure for the rest of my life. She has the biggest heart and she wears it on her sleeve. She feels for everyone – human and animals alike. And most importantly, she is never scared to speak her mind– you always know where you stand with Pamela Smith. What wonderful qualities in a leader.

I have been so blessed to work with these three ladies; I feel humbled by their leadership qualities and spirit of character. What a wonderful team I have to work with and support me on this journey as IIMC President. Oh, you ask what leadership skills do I bring to the table? I am the thinker – the one who thinks before speaking and looks before stepping. I try to discover the areas we have in common, come up with a consensus that everyone can agree to, and as Stephen Covey would say – develop “win-wins”.

When I lived in Nashville, I attended this Sunday School class in which the teacher was also an attorney to the Country Music Stars. He shared with us an important life-lesson. I always thought that attorneys had to be cut-throat, and in certain circumstances, cut-throat attorneys are exactly what you need. But as a contract attorney, maybe he would negotiate a great recording contract for his clients – the first time. However, if he wanted future contracts for his client, he knew the importance of developing long-term relationships in which all the parties won.

Why do I share these stories? The important lesson for us to learn – we are all very unique individuals, with different backgrounds and values. We look different; we act different. Yet we still work together as a team, recognizing all of our strengths and weaknesses in order to move our great organization forward.  It is important that we all win.

It breaks my heart when I talk to our members and they tell me that other IIMC members have been just downright mean to them. We are all different, whether it is the color of our skin or hair, our sex, our religion, or our height or weight, or perhaps the relationships we have with people. But at some time in our lives, we all have been bullied and experienced its sting, or even in some cases, ostracized entirely from the group.

This is a personal experience I want to share with you. In January, I had two dental implants, and I needed some medication to help with the pain. I went to the Dollar General, but I messed up. I was standing behind some boxes and did not see these people standing in line for the self-check-out. I jumped into the line in front of them. Oh, it was horrible how they treated me; you would have thought I had committed murder. I apologized profusely, but I left the store in tears.

Since COVID, I find that my patience for standing in line has disappeared and I will admit I would not have been happy about someone jumping the line in front of me. I confess that there would have been a lot of eye-rolling. But after this incident, I made myself a promise – to remember how I felt and how I was treated that day and to remember that what the other person needs might be a little care and compassion, not judgement.

We need to be more accepting, stop being mean to one another, and start embracing our differences. This is what will make IIMC the premier organization that we know that we can become.  Not to mention, the organization that people will want to join and participate.  

“People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Let’s be that organization – one that has a reputation of supporting and accepting one another.