I have spent the last two years serving on the Board of LOPSA. In that time we have made many steps towards improving our organization, but there is still much that needs to be done. We need to continue to improve our organization so that it will be viable for years to come.
Our greatest strength is our ability to bring both experienced administrators and inexperienced administrators together through education and career development. There are three main parts to our educational mission:
We need to continue to improve and expand our mentorship program to move it forward. It is probably the best program that LOPSA has. But there is always room for improvement. We need to close the loop and gather better feedback from mentors and mentees once they are matched. We also need to reach more potential mentors to meet demand.
The locals need a lot of work and improvement. One thing we all know is that the current model is not working. Yes, we have a few standout locals, but a majority of locals are smaller and need help. Additionally, we have not opened many new locals. So what is the problem?
First, LOPSA national needs to provide more support. We need to provide support, services, and structure so that they can succeed. We need to make sure they are setup for success and provide mechanisms for feedback and effective communication.
Second, we need to help the locals be more organized. Currently, many locals are loose groups of people who are meeting once a week for presentations. This model worked before the meetup world, before the modern world of the internet. What we need to do is change the way locals operate. LOPSA national needs to develop a plan in conjunction with the locals to help provide a strong, sound base. They need to become places of learning with groups of people coming together for a common goal. Locals need to be more organized and have a core group of leaders who are willing to educate and develop local system administrators.
The last part of making locals better is to harness the youth movement. Nearly half of our membership are student members. We need to take that enthusiasm and build a program of LOPSA local chapters on college campuses. This would allow us to bring a new generation into LOPSA, while instilling the values of education, mentorship and technical skills. These students can then return to their communities and join a LOPSA chapter, or start a new one to continue the tradition.
Conferences are an area that we have succeeded in the past. We have stumbled a bit with our East Coast conference in recent years, but I believe we will be able to revive it, and make it better. We need to provide structure and support so that we can replicate these small, affordable local conferences all over the US. We need to evaluate what went wrong with LOPSA-EAST, and put a framework in place to help prevent future cancellations. We should leverage the successes of CascadiaIT to build a framework for other conferences. The end-goal is to position LOPSA as the go-to organization for small, local, conferences.
My plan for the next two years is to make the locals stronger, and more relevant in today’s world. To build a framework so that we can open more local chapters, and give them a path to success. We will continue to develop and run local, low cost conferences to help the community learn. And, we will continue to grow and improve the mentorship program.