Guest Editor – Melanie Quinton (LT 31)

Most five year olds want to be an astronaut or, like my four year old, a firefighter or “worker man.” As some of you know, when I was five, I was bound and determined to be a banker. All I knew about banking at the time was that my entire day would be spent pushing really fun buttons on a loud adding machine. I was sold! I started in a bank when I was 16, the same year I was given the opportunity to be a part of Leadership Haywood County in Tennessee, a close cousin to our YLT. This was my first glimpse at the power leadership groups could have in a community and the importance they would have in my life. I spent the next 14 years in banking, until one day, I was given an opportunity to move my for-profit experience into the world of non-profit. It was an extremely tough decision to leave banking, but I looked forward to moving my financial experience, my love for volunteerism and philanthropy, and combine it all into a new career in a whole new world.

In my many years of banking, I had little non-profit board experience and my very first board meeting was eye-opening. What I thought would be a few hours spent saving the world with collaborative conversation, polite applause and hugs, actually ended up being a time spent with extremely challenging discussions, a few differing opinions, and a lot of work to be done by the conclusion of the meeting. I was shocked. I even met with one of the board members afterwards saying I thought this world was only rainbows and butterflies. He laughed loudly and explained there was a lot of work to be done before we can have rainbows and butterflies.
While my new eye-opening career was moving forward, I came across the application for LT Class 31. I knew the benefits such a group could have in my life after being a part of a much smaller, similar group in Tennessee, and I decided to go for it. A few short months later, I was on a bus to Jacksonville with 40 extremely loud, intimidating, overly creative, one pretty scary (you know who you are), and all-around awesomely fun folks that I would soon call my great friends. My world was forever changed!

As we’ve all come to learn, Leadership Tallahassee provides so many opportunities to learn and grow, and towards the conclusion of my LT year, I signed up to help with Building Better Boards. I thought it could help transform my rainbows and butterflies mindset into productive, useful conversations that I could share with our leadership team at work, along with the boards I was looking to join and serve. I was so right! Not only did the event help me, a non-profit employee, but it also was designed to help the first time board member, and the seasoned one, as well! Also, as we’ve all learned through LT, sometimes when you volunteer once, you end up chairing the whole thing! As the current chair, (Thanks Kim Smiley (LT 22)!) I really hope to see you all on May 10th at this year’s Building Better Boards. Our BBB committee has been working very hard to make sure we put on a fantastic event and we really hope you’ll be a part of it.

The best part, Building Better Boards isn’t just for non-profit folks. For-profits have boards, too, just like the bank board meeting I attended a few weeks ago. That’s right, I’m putting those 14 years of banking back to work. Not only does LT provide you friends for life and the occasional wild trip to Mexico with classmates, but also employment opportunities like the banking one I just assumed with three of my LT 31 classmates! Leadership Tallahassee is AWESOME!


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