Denise here, with my final blog posting as president of CPSA District Chapter 210. I've been president for five years, and what a journey it has been! At the time I joined, only six and a half years ago (2010), our chapter was hosting the national CPSA convention (good) but was going through a dramatic decline in membership (bad). When I became president in 2011, we had fewer than 20 members and a couple of meetings were attended by only four members. I had never led an organization before and lost quite a bit of sleep over this. How could I revive the chapter? With few people left to help, I found myself also doing the jobs of webmaster, blogger, show organizer, marketer and presenter.
Things began to turn around when Maryann Kot moved to Livermore from Arizona and started teaching colored pencil classes at the Bothwell Arts Center. She talked up the CPSA to her students who were looking for more colored pencil information and fellowship, and they began joining and participating. Education was the key: people wanted to know more, more, more about colored pencil. I revived the tradition of an annual show and continued organizing our annual booth at the Livermore ArtWalk; these got us great exposure in communities around the bay area, not only in Livermore but also San Mateo, Half Moon Bay and Los Altos. I gave presentations about colored pencil as a fine art medium to many art clubs in the area, and collected advice and suggestions from members of these other clubs--community in action. Wherever I exhibited my own work, I talked up colored pencil and the CPSA.
"Education, Exposure, Community" was the mantra that I learned from former CPSA national president Cindy Haase, which I realized along the way was exactly what was working. In three years our membership doubled in size, which caught the attention of the national board. I was asked to lead the District Chapters Forum at the 2015 national convention; I wasn't sure I had any idea how to do such a thing, but I accepted the challenge and to my surprise and relief I received great reviews from my fellow chapter presidents. This led to my being asked to lead it again in 2016.
And then to my surprise, I was offered a position on the national board, as Marketing Director. I've never held a marketing position in my life, but I soon realized their logic: that all the things I've done to revive our chapter are...marketing! What an opportunity! I never imagined when I joined CPSA in 2010 that I would ever become a chapter president, let alone a national board member helping to promote over 1700 fellow colored pencil artists in several countries.
My new role dictates that I must step down as chapter president. And that's okay! As I write this, DC 210 has almost 45 members, several established annual events, members who are happy to volunteer to help, and a healthy treasury balance. And two members--Paula Greer and Peggy Milovina--are stepping up with their many combined years of organizational and administrative experience, their easygoing personalities, their intelligence and their enthusiasm for colored pencil and our members, to take over the roles of chapter President and Vice-President, respectively. I'm comfortable stepping down at this moment, knowing that the chapter is healthy and in good hands!
I'll still be an active, participating member of DC 210, I just won't be instigating things, leading meetings or sending mass emails to our members anymore. It's been quite a journey, and I'm very grateful for all the people who have helped me as president and us as a chapter get to this moment. Thank you, and HAPPY DRAWING!
Denise J. Howard, CPSA, CPX