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Volunteer Leadership Initiative Conference Highlights the Best of the Best in Fund-raising Leadership

Co-chairs Pam and Lou Mertz were on hand to welcome the more than 250 volunteer leaders at the Volunteer Leadership Initiative (VLI) conference in March.

Everyone always talks about 'the CF family,'" said Peter Hodge, chair of the Major Gifts committee of the South Florida office. "Here at VLI, you can feel that family's warmth and support. And it's abundantly clear that we share one goal — to cure CF  — and that working together, we can't fail."

Success — in recruiting new volunteers, re-energizing veterans and strengthening fund-raising events — was uppermost in the minds and hearts of the more than 250 volunteer leaders at the Volunteer Leadership Initiative (VLI) conference. Held in Virginia in early March, the conference featured workshops on best practices in fund-raising and volunteer recruitment, and gave volunteer chapter leaders from across the country the opportunity to trade success stories and hard-won experience. In addition, the Foundation recognized corporate sponsors Airgas Puritan Medical, Kohl's department store chain, BJ's Restaurants Foundation, and Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for their longtime support.

Asked what they took away with them from the conference, many volunteer leaders enthusiastically mentioned Keynote Speaker Don Wood's  "500 hours" speech. President and CEO of Federal Realty Investment Trust, Wood chairs the committee of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Chapter's Breath of Life Gala, which raised an unprecedented $3,100,000 in 2007.

"The very day after your last event is held," he told the crowd, "you've got to start thinking realistically about the number of hours you'll expend on your next event. Say you're going to put in 10 hours a week. That's 500 hours you're going to invest in the job of fund-raising — and it is a job — in the next year."  Asked what to do when a prospect says no, he replied, "Say 'I don't want your money but I do want you to send out 25 letters. Give us your letterhead and your list of contacts and we'll send them out.'" 

Throughout the weekend, participants attended a variety of workshops on topics ranging from building a successful "people pipeline" to recruiting and involving the right prospective volunteer and successfully integrating Bid for a Cure into chapter events. According to David Parkinson, the Utah Chapter's VLI chair, building a successful people pipeline means reaching out beyond the families of those with CF and recruiting high-level business and community leaders to embrace the CF cause. "Along with those great new leaders we recruit," Parkinson said, "come more and more new contacts, new sponsors, new committee members and new chair people, all resulting in vital new revenue for the Foundation."

Jim Hartigan, board president for the Western Tennessee Chapter, has found it useful to carefully cultivate prospective volunteers. "Invite them to participate in some small way, engage them in the CF mission, and then go back and ask them to take on a larger role," said Hartigan. He added, "The success of any chapter is defined by the number of active volunteers. Targeted networking and emerging leader campaigns are the perfect recipe for building a larger, more energized volunteer base."   

After a dynamic weekend recognizing both chapters and individuals for their excellent efforts in recruitment and fund-raising, attendees left well armed with new strategies and ideas. "VLI is a celebration of all that volunteers do to make a difference in so many lives," said Angie Kinney, board member and VLI chair of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter.  "I left the meeting motivated and with great ideas for the year ahead."

2008 Leadership Council (by chapter)

Clay Hagler
Amy and Peter Barry
(Amy, Chair), Carolinas - Charlotte
Kevan and Sue Combs
Carolinas - Raleigh
Ronald Sherling
Central New York
Bruce Kerr
Central Ohio
Steve McNally
Central Pennsylvania
Kay and Brian Hill
Florida - Orlando
Peter Hodge
Florida - South Florida
Todd Smith
John Condit
Greater Cincinnati
Richard Gray
Greater Illinois
Noreen and Chris Tarletsky
Greater New Jersey
Margarete and Marc Cassalina
Greater New York
Sean Cawley
Greater New York
Steven M. Silver
Greater New York
Beau Guyette
Heart of America
Don and Carolyn Schenkel
Robert W. "Woody" Wilson
Texas - Lone Star
Dr. Kenneth and Gloria Friedman
Bob and Jennifer Travis
Massachusetts/Rhode Island
Bernie Willett
Massachusetts/Rhode Island
Northern New England

Carl and Judy Riedy
Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Jackie and Keith Peterson
Matt Elmore
Northeastern Texas - Dallas
Cindy and Mark Fortunato
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Bruce and Ellen Kunkel
Northern New England
Mary Pozsgai
Andy Baskin
Rainbow (Ohio)
Joe Heider
Rainbow (Ohio)
Dave George
Rochester, New York
Chris Palmer
Sooner - Oklahoma City
Jerry Hennessy
Southern California - Anaheim
Mike McGinnis
Texas Gulf Coast
Jim Hartigan
Tennessee - Memphis
Jeanne Marchetti
Tennessee - Nashville
David Parkinson
Josh Brown
Manny Lezama
Western New York
Jim Hegenbarth
Wisconsin - Madison
John Steinmiller
Wisconsin - Milwaukee