I didn’t know it at the time, but he was right. Thirty years later, I know that IMA is my favorite association—even though I’ve joined others over the years. As an IMA member, I’ve been active at the local, regional, national, and global levels where I’ve learned so much and made real friends, too.

It has been a long process. At my first IMA meeting, one of the other members asked me to join the local board of directors. I hesitated. I wanted to know what I was getting into. After all, I didn’t know much about IMA. But I said yes anyway, and, with a little coaching, I began attending meetings. Luckily, I was given a job that wouldn’t take so much time that it would scare me away: It was helping out with a phone tree. Each board member made phone calls to 10 other members, inviting them to the next meeting and getting a headcount for our dinner. Receiving a live phone call from another member—what a great way to make people feel welcome and part of the IMA community!

As a board member, I enjoyed the opportunity to do things I didn’t do at work. For instance, the year I was the chapter’s public relations director, we won one of IMA’s global PR awards. I had no previous knowledge about public relations, so this was a great chance to learn a skill that I used later to get good publicity for my company, too.

I also gained so much from our chapter meetings where I learned about what other companies did. Some of it was trivial (Did you know the biggest difference between a for-profit and a not-for-profit zoo is that the former depreciates its animals?), but other information was invaluable. In fact, I heard the best explanation of activity-based costing from the general manager of our local opera, who explained in a presentation that while they planned for three full rehearsals for each opera, if the cast did well enough with two rehearsals, they cancelled the third and saved the cost—a prime example of planned vs. actual costs.

The year after I served as chapter president (following a long stint on the board), I decided to get a second master’s degree, in executive leadership. My time became limited, but I still participated in IMA: I volunteered for the IMA Committee on Academic Relations and, later, the Committee on Ethics, where we revised the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice. And my IMA service isn’t finished. I’m still active in my local chapter and regional council and proudly serve on the Global Board of Directors and its Volunteer Leadership Committee.

I hope every member finds a volunteer ­opportunity that fits his or her unique talents. Explore IMA’s new volunteer web page at http://bit.ly/2B560QE.

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