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2008-2009 PA Presidents Forum

May 5, 2009

Program Summary
Lee Arrowood, Outgoing President of St. Patrick’s Parents Association, opened the program with a short talk about the challenges facing Parent Association Presidents and some suggestions.
Highlights included:
Obtaining buy-in from your community:

  • Spend first month or six weeks of your term listening in meetings with key people at your school: outgoing PA President; outgoing members of Executive Committee; key volunteers, administrators and parents.
  • Look for themes in what people are telling you
  • Create a strategy for your term: develop 5 things that you want to accomplish during your tenure. Examples: improved website; better communication; more diverse volunteer participation
  • Make all items actionable, with objective way to measure success

Managing Through Current Economy:

  • Look for novel fund-raising ideas
  • Leverage outside resources: use PCW speakers and calendar, as well as events at other schools

Developing Talent For the Future

  • Compile a list of people to watch the following year
  • Keep a spreadsheet of who was asked for what job and why they declined
  • Offer secondary roles to people you are grooming for leadership


  • Make sure by-laws, job descriptions and voting procedures are up to date
  • Use technology for school-wide volunteer recruitment
  • Keep good records of what was done in each position to avoid re-inventing the wheel each year

Following Lee’s talk, the group had a wide-ranging open forum discussion. Issues raised included:

  • Communication
  • Volunteerism – breaking jobs into manageable bite sized pieces
  • Fundraising – particularly in this economy
  • Policy-making
  • Budgeting
  • Relationship with Head of School
  • Diversity in volunteer group
  • Parents’ reluctance to attend meetings
  • Welcoming new families
  • Appropriate role of parent business community for networking
  • Losing volunteers to workforce due to economic downturn
  • Parent education efforts
  • Time management for parents
  • Documentation for future volunteers
  • Input from students
  • Institutional tools – software to manage volunteers

Discussion of Issue of Volunteerism:

  • Break down jobs into manageable sizes, so working parents can participate
  • Cut back programs to those that parents really care about to encourage attendance and deal with time management concerns
  • Vary meeting times to capture different audiences
  • Use technology instead of meetings to alleviate time management issues; for instance, post videos of speakers on website
  • Use volunteer software: PTO Manager is a good one – it is inexpensive and permits people to volunteer on-line
  • Create notebooks for each job and capture them electronically
  • Succession planning: have someone you’re grooming shadow the person in job

Discussion of Fundraising:

  • Most PAs receive funds from mandatory dues; some are voluntary
  • Dues ranged from $25 -$150
  • New ideas for fund-raising instead of auctions

Discussion of Expanding Diversity of Volunteer Pool:

  • Hold meetings at different times
  • Remind parents in every e-mail that they are welcome to attend all meetings
  • Assign people at meetings to welcome new people
  • Bring a guest speaker to meetings as a hook to get people to attend PA meetings
  • Personally invite new people to meeting; let old people know that it is their job to bring in new people; mandate that every Executive Committee
  • member bring someone new to each open meeting
  • Hold meetings on campus instead of in someone’s home
  • Thank people for helping
  • Wear name tags on campus that include job titles and committee names
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Use personal e-mails and personal phone calls


May 5, 2009
Event Category:


National Cathedral School
United States


May 5, 2009
Event Category:


National Cathedral School
United States