At the core of social media is the spirit of authentic conversations. We understand people shared a variety of opinions, emotions and concerns during the past week associated with the launch of the SMCJoCo chapter. We as a board have struggled with how to respond to our community about the events that have transpired since we were notified by National on June 11th that the two people had requested to start a new chapter. We quite frankly were caught off guard by the request and have held numerous discussions internally, with National and with the people interested in the new chapter regarding our approach to this new development.
We recognize one of our board members, Mark Van Baale, has been exceptionally passionate about this topic and recently posted his personal opinions on the subject. Mark has been very clear that his comments weren't meant to reflect the opinions of the board or of the SMCKC membership in general. We understand there are some who may consider his remarks as unfair or too emotional while others recognize his words as passion for the SMCKC community and desire to stay unified. Mark has expressed a desire to be able to speak without risking negative perceptions of the organization. At our regular board meeting held on Tuesday prior to the mobile marketing presentation, we reiterated that our elected board serves the members impartially. We respect Mark’s passion and his right to speak freely. To that end, we asked him to step down from his chair on the board. He then offered his resignation and we accepted. We have talked with Mark about using his passion for community in a different role and help solicit feedback from the JoCo community to see how we can better serve that area.
In an effort to not over-react but rather learn from this situation, we opted to hold formal communications for the past week since National notified us the SMCJoCo chapter was granted. We are continuing to gauge community reaction, questions, and interest in supporting a new Johnson County chapter. At this time, we are looking for feedback from our members on how they would like to proceed in working with the new chapter. With this said, here is our formal response:
How quickly changes can happen in only a few weeks and what a few weeks it has been! We have learned from top mobile marketing thought leaders, enjoyed a great tweet-up in the park, and celebrated all that 4 square has to offer at a local watering hole. We have also been made aware of a local company who has requested a new SMC chapter focused on the Johnson County area. Your board has been working diligently to understand and learn from this situation.
We take concerns of our members seriously and are always trying to improve in how we support the diversity of our organization. We have recognized that we need to be holding more events in more places throughout the metropolitan area including Johnson County locations. About half our membership hails from Johnson County with over half our board living in the Johnson County area so we have been trying for quite some time to do more in that particular part of town. We have been blessed with the generosity of Kansas City Café and have struggled to find a venue/restaurant with the same kind of set-up in the Johnson County. Our efforts have taken longer than desired. We are close to locking down an Overland Park/Olathe area breakfast location for future monthly breakfasts and will be having a variety of Kansas and Missouri area bars participating in our upcoming multi-neighborhood celebration of the Mashable Social Media Day on June 30th. For those of you who have organized and/or attended previous Johnson County lunches and happy hours we genuinely appreciate your support and participation in SMCKC events!
We are also announcing today an advocacy pilot program to solicit specific community feedback to ensure the SMCKC is achieving the mission of serving the needs of membership, community and businesses across the entire metropolitan area. The pilot will focus on the Overland Park/Olathe community. Once we’ve established a viable program, we’ll reach out to areas such as the Northland and Eastern Jackson County. This program will ensure community feedback is being solicited, analyzed and addressed in a meaningful manner. Information will be shared with the board and membership to be incorporated in to future event planning, educational efforts and outreach programs. Mark will start his efforts with a survey that will be distributed to the entire SMCKC community within the next few days.
With Mark moving to this new focus, we will also be requesting nominations for a new Education Chairperson. Please submit all nominations to Ed Roberts, Chairman of the Board by July 2nd. Voting will take place July 5th – 8th with the new Educational Chair being announced at the July 9th breakfast.
We want to take this opportunity to share some answers to the frequently asked questions we have received since SMCJoCo announced their charter on Twitter last week. This situation continues to develop and evolve daily so we will do our best to keep you up-to-date as new information/plans evolve.
Did SMCKC know this new chapter was being launched?
We were notified on Friday, June 11 from Kristie Wells at the National chapter that two people had submitted a request for a new chapter in Johnson County. We asked Kristie to give us the opportunity to meet with the two people prior to approving the request so we could understand the concerns that led them to create a new chapter. We reached out and had a 90 minute phone call with them. We offered a committee leadership position asking them to help us address their concerns regarding event locations and educational topics. We were told they weren’t interested in helping SMCKC in this capacity and were focused on starting the SMCJoCo chapter. This phone call was the first I had heard concerns expressed by the two persons. We attempted to address each of their concerns but unfortunately failed in getting them to reconsider their plans to start the new chapter.
Why did National approve the new chapter?
We corresponded with National regarding whether they would approve the SMCJoco chapter. After talking directly with the two people, National ultimately decided to proceed with approving the chapter. National told us on Thursday, June 24th that they would not approve the chapter request at this time and encourage the two people to play a leadership role with SMCKC. We were given guidance to conduct a membership survey, expand our event schedule to various locations and offer the two people a board position. We quickly replied that we were already making progress toward satisfying their requests except for the Board position as that would require a membership vote, but reiterated our offer of a committee lead position. About an hour after our reply we were told by National that one of the two people had contacted them on the phone and after additional consideration decided to approve their request and would see how things were managed for the next 30 days.
Will this impact SMCKC mission/objectives?
Honestly, we hope it will not. We will carefully watch the impact of having two chapters in such close geographic proximity and hope that this will not dilute our overall strength. SMCKC has experienced double digit growth the past year and have been honored with presentations from KC’s business elite such as American Century, Hallmark, and Barkley to name just a few. We embrace the diversity of our membership including the variety of professions, titles, ages, interests and geographical locations. We are enjoying the regional and national attention the group has received from out of town visitors such as Albert Maruggi, the Midlife Roadtrip Crew, and various industry thought leaders. We are learning from each other through case study presentations, group brainstorming sessions to help non-profits and attending educational programs such as the recent mobile marketing event attended in-person and online by almost 100 people. We will continue to focus on our mission and executing our 2010 strategy while embracing the National philosophy of “get it share it” across the entire metropolitan area. Our strengths are the diversity, knowledge, care and unity shared by our member-managed organization, and we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished to date. What has us the most excited? All that is yet to come!
We look forward to your continued support and feedback to help make us even stronger. Here’s to a prosperous future for each of you!