Building on the popularity of New Board Member Training, ASWB began offering additional trainings aimed at specific roles. “After the Executive Leadership Training for board chairs and board administrators in 2018, many of the participants asked for training on becoming the board chair for the first time,” says CEO Mary Jo Monahan. “So Jennifer [Henkel, senior director of member services and strategic initiatives] and I got busy designing it!”
The webinar series, held September 10, 17, and 24, combined video clips featuring advice and insight from members of the ASWB Board of Directors, a live presentation from Monahan and Henkel, and real-time discussions among participants. After trying various online conferencing alternatives, ASWB settled on BigMarker, a platform developed specifically for webinars. BigMarker could handle the transitions between recorded videos and screen sharing, allowing Monahan and Henkel to make the most of the recorded interviews with the Board of Directors. More than a dozen individuals attended each session of the live webinar, but any ASWB member can visit BigMarker to view the entire series.
“It was great to reach so many people in so many different locations,” says Henkel. “One hour weekly for three weeks was so much easier for attendees to manage than two to three full days away from family and work. It was a logical and practical alternative for ASWB and our members.”
By offering board chair training as an online webinar, ASWB leaders realized several advantages:
- Attendance was not limited by travel and hotel expenses.
- Participants could join the program without having to disrupt their lives for several days.
- Registration was flexible, so last-minute participants could drop in if their schedules allowed.
- Prerecorded videos allowed members of ASWB’s Board of Directors to assist in developing the training content.
- Participants could interact via a text-based chat, so they didn’t need a computer with a microphone or camera.
- The webinar platform (BigMarker) recorded the presentations, so other ASWB members can view the series online at their convenience.
The advantages of the webinar format impressed participant Brenda Dennis, who recently became chair of the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers. “I actually like the ability to refer back to the webinar series and recommend posting it for others to refer to easily,” she says. Dennis was a last-minute registrant for the webinar series, signing up just as she was preparing to step into the board chair’s role.
“My primary goal in participating in the webinar series was to gain confidence and guidance regarding how to start on the right foot in assuming the board chairpersonship,” says Dennis. “As a public member, I feel an additional burden of ‘doing it right’ in order to give confidence to our other board members, as well as licensees and the public.”
ASWB leadership provided high-quality content for the training sessions. “When I found out that all our current ASWB Board members have either served as board chair or board administrator,” says Monahan, “we decided to hold a focus group and ask questions specific to their expertise.”
Henkel interviewed Board members on camera in August, following a regular meeting of the Board of Directors. “Our Board presenters were by far the best part of the training,” says Henkel. “I loved interviewing them and then being able to share their learned experience—it was incredibly rich content.”
Dennis agrees that the video content offered practical information she could implement right away. “I really appreciated the discussion some of the Board members had regarding the differences between a board member and board chair and navigating the transition,” she says. “I was able to utilize some of that guidance in my first board meeting as chair.”