A Chat With Our President
A few weeks ago, DONA International membership got the news that we have a new Executive Director as part of the DONA staff. Here’s a short interview with DONA International President, Virginia Rivenbark, about our new Executive Director.
Virginia, can you share a bit more with us about the move to a new executive director?
In discussion with Bostrom, our management company, we decided it was time for a new executive director to help guide DONA to the next level. As we work toward evolving and growing based on the feedback from the member survey, we are confident Michael Chan is the right person to assist with that task.
Michael has experience with organizations similar to ours, as well as excellent customer service skills. He also has experience working with boards of directors. Michael shared with me that he was excited to have the opportunity to work with us because he sees the great value in our organization and in the work of our birth and postpartum doulas.
Can you tell us a little more about the role of the ED?
The executive director is our connection with Bostrom, the management company we have chosen to contract with to provide support as our home office. As our executive director, Michael is available for guidance, advice and strategic planning. He understands very well how non-profit organizations function and what needs to happen within our by-laws and the laws governing associations such as DONA International. Although the title may imply that the executive director is “over” the board or the membership, that’s not the case at all. He does not make any decisions for DONA International, and doesn’t vote on motions brought forward; all decisions/votes come from our leadership team (member volunteers) who make up the Board of Directors.
Have you had an opportunity to get to know Michael, and has he worked with the BOD?
Michael and I have been having weekly phone meetings, so he is kept up to date on the needs of members and board. I also receive regular staff updates from the home office. I have enjoyed working with Michael and feel like he has worked hard to reach out to board members so that he really understands our amazing organization. He also has been working closely with our office staff, whom many of you already know. After watching Ramona and Kristin work, talking to them and board members, he understands some areas where we can improve our customer service- for instance, wait times for calls and emails to be returned. He immediately went into action and developed a plan to hire another full-time person to work with Ramona and Kristin. We know this additional staff will make a difference for our membership!
In addition to the weekly President’s call with Michael, we have held several phone call board meetings since he started, and they have gone smoothly. He has also guided our board in preparation for the upcoming board meeting next week. Michael has been a strong resource in planning the agenda and how we can best use our time to get the most work done.
What excites you about this new direction for DONA?
DONA International is better than ever, and we board members are working to continue that. Michael is just the person to help us. He makes himself available to the board when any of us have questions. He is also excited about the new things we are starting, such as the advocacy committee, and working with the merchandise committee to expedite getting our online store up and running.
In the DONA International statement of values, we mention that we value diversity, and we really like that Michael brings a new element to our organization. He truly wants to support our leadership and members into the future. He believes in the work that we are doing, and we are happy to add Michael’s skills to our staff and as a resource for our organization.
How can members learn more about Michael?
If you have any questions about Michael or DONA, in general, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a few ways planned for members to get to know our staff better, including our new executive director, so be on the look out in our publications and on social media in the coming months. Michael Chan can be reached at email@example.com.
Virginia’s involvement with DONA International began with a doula training in 2001 and certification in 2002. She currently works with clients as a certified doula and Lamaze certified childbirth educator. She became a DONA International volunteer in 2011 and has since served on numerous committees, including certification and conference committees, and as DONA International Northeastern US Regional Director. Since January 2106, Virginia has been serving the organization as President Elect. Virginia’s focus is on finding new and different ways to reach all DONA members through webinars, the blog and social media. Virginia and her husband, Tom, were high school sweethearts and have been married for 37 years. They enjoy their eight children and seven grandchildren, and they make their home in Berwick, PA, a small town in the northeast part of the state.