I joined CSI in 2003 and became very active in my local chapter – Central Virginia CSI. In my second year as a member, I was elected as a Chapter Director and also served as the Academic Liaison, Electronic Communications Chair, and on the education and hospitality committees. That year I also started a student CSI Chapter at the University of Virginia with Meghan McLoone, our first student chapter President. In other words, I became VERY active with CSI.
So why is this the organization that I decided to put in volunteer hours – lots of volunteer hours? First, there was Ray setting the example and talking about the power of the organization that encouraged me to get involved. However, once I got involved it was the willingness of the local chapter to give me an equal footing with the other more seasoned professionals involved in the organization. I was the youngest active member at the time, probably by more than 15 years. Yet, they elected me to the board of directors and gave me full license to start a student chapter of the organization. This willingness to let me run with an idea and support me in my efforts showed me the true power of CSI. This is an organization that brings everyone in the construction industry together at the same table as equals and the local chapter proved it.
This willingness to allow all voices to be heard was not just a local-level anomaly within CSI. In 2004 I attended my first Leadership Orientation Seminar with CSI – a regional leadership training. There I met Mitch Miller who encouraged me to speak up at the meeting – a meeting filled with people who had way more experience than me. They wanted to hear my ideas. They allowed me to be an equal at their table. Mitch set the stage for me to get even more involved with CSI.
I am no longer one of the young members of CSI. I have been active for 12 years, attended 8 regional events, 9 national conferences, served on two national committees, and served in almost every position at the local chapter level. I have presented topics at 6 national conferences and 3 regional events. I am a frequent contributor to the CSI weekly newsletter (Thanks Kaitlin). I have many friends in every part of the country and some in Canada through CSI. The President of the organization and many of the board members know me – a member from one of the smaller chapters in the organization. I am still just one of the people at the table.
This year at the Construct Show (CSI’s national conference) I was reminded of the importance of just being one of the people at the table for the betterment of the industry. We need to stay relevant, on the cutting edge, and a leading organization in the construction industry. There is no room in the industry for pushing down other members just to try to stop change for the sake of keeping things “the way we always do it.” This is the organization that shapes communication within the industry. Clear, complete, concise, and correct communication is the only way we are going to be able to keep up with the pace of change we are experiencing and going to experience in the coming years. The only way that we are going to be successful as an industry and as an organization is to continue to invite everyone to the same table as an equal no matter age, gender, or industry.