Meet Your Area Reps
By Kathy Goeke
Marylill Elbe took the reins as the Area Representatives Committee Chair in 2004 at a time when the PSA was considering discontinuing the committee altogether. According to Elbe, the representatives were inactive and not effectively engaged in their positions or with the members in their areas. However, through her efforts over the past eight years, ARC has blossomed into the important liaison between the PSA Board of Governors and the membership it was originally intended to be.
Elbe’s first tasks in rebuilding the committee were to establish a mission statement and clear directives for the representatives, and to ensure that communication would become the key component connecting all levels of the organization. She created the “ARC” acronym to represent the connection established through that communication, and stood firmly on the ARC’s new mission statement: Involve, Value, Validate.
“My vision for the committee was to make representatives easily accessible, visible, and viable sources of information and support for the membership,” Elbe said. “Using our new mission statement, the representatives were involved in every step of development and approval of a new, official job description for committee members and establishing an open line of communication between the committee, the PSA office, the Board of Governors, and the membership. Together, we created and refined a committee job description, making the Area Representatives Committee both responsible and accountable.”
It was also Elbe’s vision that being an Area Representative would become a sought-after position of responsibility within the PSA, and a gateway to greater service within the organization. Several representatives have now gone on to be members of the Board of Governors. PSA’s current president, Angela Riviello-Steffano, was previously an ARC representative, as well.
Elbe was also on the forefront of bringing ARC into the 21st century by employing frequent electronic communication with the membership through E-Reach and ARC Forward, allowing the committee to provide their area members with timely and up-to-date information from PSA, U.S. Figure Skating, and the ISU.
“Again, communication and the ARC mission statement are the key,” she said. “Once the representatives were engaged, it became a priority to embrace and engage members in each area.”
ARC is a very different entity now from when Elbe first became the committee chair, and she feels many of her original goals have been achieved.
“We have a good start. The committee communicates regularly, including an annual conference call. We are honored to have our own committee logo, designed by Lee Green in the PSA office. We have a unified protocol – everyone follows the same rules with the freedom of their own style and personality. All members are responsive and contribute to the continued growth of this committee.”
Other accomplishments during Elbe’s term include establishing an area representing international coaches living outside the United States, and redefining the area boundaries (which was further championed by incoming ARC chair Gloria Leous who has expertise in geographical mapping). ARC now represents 17 areas with an average of nearly 400 members per area. “Meet Your Representative” sessions were instituted in 2007 at the Los Angeles Conference, followed in 2008 by the addition of the “Meet Your Representative” feature in PS Magazine.
Personal projects Elbe is most proud of include programs which directly recognize PSA members. A program to award anniversary pins honoring members for continuous membership was established, and, with involvement from the committee, the PSA established Life Member and Life Member-Retired categories of membership.
Elbe’s tenure as the ARC chair ended in May, and she hopes Leous will be able to see a few of the committee’s other projects through to fruition. She hopes the committee will continue to identify and pursue member-driven projects in the future.
“I would like to see the completion of several of the member-driven projects that are now in the works,” Elbe said. “Most notably, the member recognition program to be completed by the PSA Awards Committee, the establishment of an IT/Talent Pool, and especially the establishment of informal PSA meetings at non-qualifying competitions within each area.”
Elbe wishes Leous good luck in her new position as ARC chair, and offered this advice for her successor: “Be patient and compassionate. Always remember, to be a good leader you must also be able to follow. And never lose sight of our mission statement. Do your best to make the members and representatives feel involved, valued, and validated.”