Chapters 101 / News from Active Minds

For the Future Success of Your Chapter

Summer is right around the corner! We can practically smell the sea breeze and the barbecues and many of you are looking forward to graduation and new challenges ahead. In all of the excitement, it can be hard to effectively wrap up your chapter activities and prepare your new leaders to thrive in the fall. Never fear, we have new resources available to help you make your leadership transition smooth and successful!

Here are some tips we’ve heard from chapter leaders about successful leadership transition to get you thinking:

  • Allison, The University of Rochester: “Create a way for there to be transparency between new outgoing and incoming leaders so they can share what the positions entail. They can also remind new members to keep good self-care routines.”
  • Russell, University of Maine: “We’ve kept a binder of information and records about things we’ve done in the past that pass it on to new leaders every year. If a new leader is feeling lost they can often refer to the binder for help.”
  • Kristina, Denison University: “Make sure outgoing leaders provide their new contact information so they can be reached if needed.”
  • Nycole, Marquette University: “Along with keeping records of our past activities we do team bonding and different activities for the new and outgoing executive board members. This helps them start to get to know each other and helps them learn about their upcoming roles and responsibilities.”

Another tip is to think about how your chapter leadership is structured. Are responsibilities equally distributed among your executive board? Are your general members involved in planning or otherwise have a natural path to taking on leadership eventually? Here are two different structures that we’ve seen work well when a traditional set up wasn’t doing the trick:

  • Saint Michael’s College holds elections in the fall semester to elect juniors and sophomores to leadership roles. The newly elected students shadow the seniors who have had a year of leadership experience and learn about their roles, different leadership styles, and help plan the coming year of events. In the spring semester, the seniors step down from their roles letting the underclassmen run the chapter but are there for support and guidance.
  • The University of Maryland and UCLA both have a committee structure that engages more leaders and members and may be well suited for schools with large chapters. There is an overall executive board managing all of the different parts of what is happening but smaller committees have their own leadership and member base for different initiatives, such a Stress Less Week, collaborating with the Student Veterans office, or social media and marketing. This gives younger leaders an opportunity to practice and hone their skill in smaller scale settings and engages general members effectively to keep them coming back to meetings and events.

Do you have other leadership transition tips? Having some trouble figuring out the best plan for your chapter? We want to hear from you! Email us at chapters@activeminds.org and let us help you brainstorm! And don’t forget to check out our new and improved Leadership Transition Resources and the Leadership Transition Notebook!