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Council Leadership Academy: Destination Success

 | May 28, 2013

In response to the operational challenges faced by literacy councils in recent years, the International Reading Association hosts a Council Leadership Academy from June 27 through 30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Non-profit associations have been hit hard by a tsunami of challenges. Membership levels are eroding, revenues are declining, and conference attendance is suffering. Leaders of most non-profit educational associations are struggling to find a path to turnaround and survival.

The International Reading Association (IRA) developed this intensive multi-day program with the theme “Destination Success” to equip council leaders with the strategic vision and tactical skills that their organizations will need to prosper in this climate. The Council Leadership Academy promises to help council leaders to conduct an operational assessment; learn strategies for turning challenges into opportunities; gain insight on effective ways to utilize social networking; and discover new ways of thinking about and improving governance, organizational management, advocacy, communications, member recruitment and retention, leadership development, and more.

Inspiration and Networking on Thursday

maureen mclaughlin
Maureen McLaughlin

marcie craig post
Marcie Craig Post

steven layne
Steven Layne

Jill Lewis-Spector
Jill Lewis-Spector

richard long
Richard Long

The Academy begins at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 27 with an opening session featuring IRA President Maureen McLaughlin and IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post, who will unveil the IRA plan for strategic improvement and how it impacts the work of IRA’s vast network of councils. A networking reception is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., followed by a 6:30 group dinner with inspirational speaker Jodi Hills, author of I Am Amazed. Hills operates a Minneapolis design studio named Studio J which features her collection of “visual verse.”

Wit and Wisdom on Friday

Friday, June 28 begins with an 8:00 a.m. group breakfast and general session with IRA Board Member, author, and speaker Steven Layne. With trademark wit and wisdom, Steven Layne presents “The Success Story Nobody Else Can Write,” an address that outlines four basic tenets that lead to effectiveness and inspiration for all of the key players.

At 10:00 a.m. attendees begin a strand that includes four sessions: organizational management with IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post and IRA Director of Business Operations Linda Marston, council network & communications with IRA Leadership Development Associate Tiffany Sears and IRA Content Strategist and Senior Writer Lara Deloza, council leadership with IRA Board Member Steven Layne and IRA Leadership Development Associate Rayann Mitchell, or membership development with IRA Director of Marketing Stephen Sye. There is a mid-morning break, a group lunch, and a mid-afternoon break. The program schedule has more information about the timing of each session and takeaways from each of these strands.

Part I of the mentorship program orientation begins at 4:45 p.m. The mentorship program is a voluntary partnership opportunity for new and experienced council leaders to develop an ongoing relationship to consolidate knowledge, share effective practices, and provide support through feedback and coaching. Friday evening ends with a networking reception at 5:30 and a group dinner at 6:30.

Advocacy and Strategy on Saturday

IRA President-elect Jill Lewis-Spector and IRA Director of Government Relations Richard Long lead the general session at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 29. Lewis-Spector presents “Why Advocacy is Important for IRA, State Councils, and Literacy Teachers,” and Long discusses “What Are the National, Federal and State Issues Impacting Literacy Teachers?”

IRA Director of Marketing Stephen Sye

After a short break, the learning tracks begin at 10:15 a.m. There are two learning tracks, each with three sessions. (Breaks and lunch are scheduled between sessions.) The Council Leadership Track features Lara Deloza, Steven Layne, Linda Marston, Rayann Mitchell, Marcie Craig Post, Tiffany Sears, and Stephen Sye. Expanding on the previous day’s curriculum, the team presents more in-depth content tailored to individual attendees to assist them in refining their knowledge of organizational management, membership activities, social media tactics, networking, and leadership development. The Advocacy Track features Richard Long, who proposes answers to the question, “What can state councils do about the big federal and state literacy issues impacting literacy Teachers?” Building from the general session, Long’s sessions will focus on how to look at the intersection of advocacy and professional issues and how an IRA state council can organize to effectively communicate, make decisions, and reach out to legislators and state officials to make a difference that will impact students.

Lara Deloza discusses communications and social media

The first strategic planning session is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, after a short break after the final learning track sessions. At the planning session, Lara Deloza, Steven Layne, Rich Long, Linda Marston, Rayann Mitchell, Marcie Craig Post, Tiffany Sears, and Stephen Sye facilitate small group meetings to review the rubric, continue council self-analysis, and begin strategic planning and goal setting. The second mentorship program orientation is scheduled for 4:45 p.m., followed by a reception at 5:30, and a group dinner at 6:30 featuring Steven Layne’s speech “Confessions of a Reading Arsonist.” Layne’s charismatic blend of anecdotes and practical suggestions for engaging struggling readers in the classroom are sure to fan the flame of literacy into a raging inferno, inspiring teachers as well as their students to keep the bedside lamp on just a little bit later into the night.

Goal-setting and Farewells on Sunday

After a continental breakfast on Sunday morning, the second strategic planning session begins at 8:30 a.m. Facilitators Steven Layne, Rich Long, Linda Marston, Rayann Mitchell, Marcie Craig Post, Tiffany Sears, and Stephen Sye continue to meet with attendees in small groups to review rubrics, continue council self-analysis, and begin strategic planning and goal setting.

The closing general session features “Honoring the Past, Building the Future” with Marcie Craig Post at 10:15 a.m. She reviews what was learned during the Academy, summarizes the long- and short-term goals of IRA and of councils, and shares progress that has been made so far and plans for the future. A “grab-and-go” lunch will be provided.

How to Attend

The Council Leadership Academy is geared towards council leaders as well as council members who are interested in extending their impact on literacy through council involvement. The ultimate goal of the Academy is to create more robust operating exchanges between and among IRA and its affiliated councils, and to strengthen the channels for continuous long-term support.

The Academy will be held at the Hilton Minneapolis at 1001 Marquette Avenue South in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The registration fee is $249, and all sessions, materials, and group meals are included.

Register by e-mailing customerservice@/, calling (800) 336-7323, faxing the registration form to (302) 737-0878, or mailing the registration form to CLA, International Reading Association, 800 Barksdale Road, Newark, DE 19711.

Cancellations received before June 1 will receive a 50% refund. After June 1st, no refunds will be made for cancellations. Substitutions are permitted. Registration closes June 25.

The special lodging rate for the Hilton Minneapolis, the conference site, is $159. In order to secure this price, reservations must be made by June 13, 2013. To reserve, call (800) HILTONS (445-8667) and provide group name “IRA” or reserve online at /CLAhotel.



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