When Staff Is like Family
Finding the right fit for a small staff is no easy feat. Many of the Letters’ readers know that I have been involved the last year with the restructuring of this publication and strategic planning for the organization. For the publication, we dissected the operations and processes to make the tasks manageable and efficient. For the organization, we underwent a full year of planning, visioning, community input, cultural examination, and process analysis.
As part of the strategic plan, we underwent a full staff analysis to identify the resources needed to move CAMP Rehoboth from a founder-led to professionally-led nonprofit. Getting the work done in programs, outreach, and advocacy with a full-time paid staff of four, part-time contract staff of seven, and several unpaid “staff” (volunteers who do staff-level work in development, accounting, programing, and outreach) plus large volunteer committees who manage the operations for our largest initiatives (Women’s FEST, CAMP Chorus, Sundance, Block Party) is a lot of juggling of resources. Each position was examined, with responsibilities and authorities aligned. I am pretty sure that from the outside the pace looked like slower-lower Delaware lava, but inside it has been a cauldron of energy and ideas and emails that move in a flood.
Resulting from this analysis last fall, the Board approved several new staffing initiatives. The first was to approve a new position of communications manager to be hired immediately. Second was to initiate the search for a new executive director. The third was to approve a staff position in development, to be hired by the new executive director.
There was a great deal of discussion on why we would hire this new communications manager ahead of the other positions. That answer ended up being simple: this job had been primarily filled before 2018 by Murray and Steve and others. As a fulltime volunteer, Murray had managed the graphics and communications, shepherding the organization to new tools in the last decade: a website, the world of social media, and email communications.
In order for Murray to lead the organization as interim executive director, and in order for him to move on and for a new executive director to succeed, these tasks had to move to someone else. Through our strategic planning, communications was identified as one of the fundamental keys to fulfilling our mission of creating a positive community. Over the past year, we consolidated the oversight for the production of print and digital materials, including the website, social media, brochures, and other materials to mostly one person: me.
Lots of people play important roles in keeping this organization humming and bringing this publication to life 15 times each year. While I have preferred a mostly uncredited role, I’m outing myself today to thank the board and staff for allowing me to plug along as my bossy-boss self moving us to this future. Most of the work that I’ve been doing has been structural: creating consistency in vehicles like the Monday emails; setting schedules and tools to coordinate functions and reduce the deluge of emails; writing, tweaking, creating checklists and policies; acting as managing editor for this publication.
My entire motivation has been love. I love this organization and the people involved too much not to help it fly on its own.
We interviewed many people for this position. Using a screening questionnaire, phone interviews, and in-person meetings, we talked to a lot of people who each would have brought different talents to helping us fulfill CAMP Rehoboth’s mission. Our first round straddled the holiday season and we weren’t able to find just the right combination of talent and skills that we sought. But in our second round, as these things go, we found just the right person. In the current world of recruitment, we haven’t circled around to respond to each applicant, but we want to publicly acknowledge our appreciation for every resume we received.
We are thrilled to welcome Mary Shockley to the CAMP Rehoboth staff. As communications manager, reporting to the executive director, Mary comes into a job that has a pretty full plate and plenty still to develop. About half of her job is directing this publication. In addition to that, she will be focused on promoting programs and events, supporting membership, and increasing engagement. While there are many aspects of communications that still live within committees—CAMP Chorus, CROP, Women’s FEST, Sundance—those committees will have better support to meet the CAMP Rehoboth mission.
Mary brings a range of experience that includes marketing, journalism, and promotion. She has worked in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. She is local and loves this area. She understands our mission completely and without question. She has a good attitude and is a quick study. She and I will work side-by-side for many weeks to give her a firm foundation in all of the tasks and responsibilities. We expect her to keep things the same and also to change everything. We count ourselves very lucky to have her as part of the CAMP Rehoboth family.
Starting this issue, you will see two major changes to the masthead: Murray moves to the more-appropriate role of publisher, and Mary begins as managing editor.
Murray’s role as publisher continues to make him responsible for the editorial and commercial success of this publication. He will guide the editorial position (how this serves the CAMP Rehoboth mission) and manage business operations so that the publication provides high quality content while maximizing revenue and profit.
As managing editor, Mary takes over what I have been doing this past year to coordinate a lot of moving parts. She develops ideas, handles problems, keeps everyone on schedule, writes and coordinates the “In Brief” department, and determines the layout of the publication. She organizes the graphics and photography, and is the liaison with advertising. She oversees all of the contracted part-time staff that make this publication interesting, relevant, and excellent.
Our part-time contract staff make a lean-mean machine: Fay Jacobs as editor, responsible for content acquisition, editorial development, and writing and editing content; Mary Beth Ramsey as our art director, responsible for design and layout; Marj Shannon, our editorial assistant, who hones our product with copyediting and proofreading; Doug Yetter, our arts editor, who keeps his eye on all of the entertainment around this area; plus our many columnists and writers who remain committed to focusing their lenses on the world around and deadlines that come too soon. Additionally, our only true fulltime staffer, Tricia Massella, advertising sales manager since the start of this publication, continues to be steadfast in adopting new systems and more responsibility without batting an eye.
There is plenty of work for everyone. There is room for all.
My love affair with CAMP Rehoboth is not at an end. It is my family.
You still will see me active and involved, doing things here and there. I still will continue as tireless cheerleader, supporter, donor, and activist. I will continue to be constructive about our future and work to make each day as positive as I am able. But I am going to step back some and watch this seed grow. It will thrive. I’m thrilled to have Mary as a new member of the CAMP Rehoboth family and know that you will be too.▼
Sondra N. Arkin is an artist in Washington, DC, has served on several nonprofit boards, and has been involved with CAMP Rehoboth since she was recruited in the mid-90s to do “one small thing.”