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Goodbye Piedmont Chapter?
2005, Q1 (June 11, 2007)
By Brian Follas, President of the STC Piedmont Chapter

STC Piedmont Chapter members are broadly based geographically. Unlike the Carolina and Metrolina chapters, whose membership is generally derived from a dense “local” business environment and large municipal setting, Piedmont chapter members reside in many cases hours from the chapter base.

This single factor has challenged our chapter for several years. Monthly meetings gradually eroded into a routine gathering of board members. The chapter board decayed over time to a few dedicated persons. Our chapter has not maintained leadership in accordance with the chapter bylaws for several years and subsequently we have suffered further by the disqualification of chapter membership rebate funding. With the advent of STC communities, the viability of the Piedmont chapter is questionable.

Recent economic changes in our region contributed to membership decline and additional work responsibilities of our waning membership base have all but made it impossible to participate as a member volunteer. Adding to the chapter’s challenge of signi.cant geographic membership dispersal is the difficulty of coordinating a board or chapter leadership group through remote means.

A logical solution is to coordinate a leadership body in one area of concentrated membership. For the Piedmont chapter, that area now seems to be at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. It is plausible that the chapter leadership locus could migrate to the Blacksburg area. There is a strong group of chapter members there that may be able to form support for the necessary leadership positions required by current organization bylaws.

During the past two to three years, repeated requests for volunteers in the Piedmont area have gone for the most part unanswered. Considering STC transformation efforts, their may be no need. STC Communities will address the geographic issues we have faced for years as the most significant opportunity to alter the way we’ve “done business.”

One member recently asked if we would need to travel to Virginia for chapter meetings if a board were formed there. Of course that is an option, but there are many technologies available today like video conferencing or web-based communications vehicles that might help us redefine the manner in which we meet. Perhaps sub-chapter meetings are possible or progressive meetings in which we gather at a more central location.

Who knows the possibilities? It is true, though, that most options explored have not made much sense in the end.

Without a board, I have found the challenges of this chapter presidency to be insurmountable (but practically irrelevant). However, it is clear to me that our challenges are merely self imposed by the structure (geographic and organizational) under which we have operated for years.

Unfortunately, the social aspect of chapter membership was significantly important to many members whom we have lost since the onset of chapter activity decline. Despite our best efforts, the great separation distances of our membership has been the most difficult obstacle to overcome.

Brian Follas can be reached at bfollas at excomedia dot com. End of article.

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