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Advancing Literacy: My Journey on ILA’s Board of Directors

By Kenneth Kunz
 | Nov 15, 2023
Kunz at Little Free Library

In an educational landscape teeming with opportunities to make a difference, some moments stand out as truly transformative. That moment for me was when I received the invitation to join the Board of Directors for ILA. This opportunity filled me with both excitement and a sense of joy, as I knew that the work of this organization was dedicated to changing lives through advancing literacy.

This is a reflection of my journey, which I believe is a testament to the enduring impact of literacy and the tireless efforts of those who commit themselves to ensuring that every individual, regardless of their circumstances, has the opportunity to unlock the world through the pages of a book. I want to share my experiences, challenges, and lessons learned from my service on the ILA Board of Directors in the hope that new and longtime members alike might be inspired to serve and lead.

The Board’s role in ILA

The board plays a pivotal role in guiding ILA’s mission and initiatives. What does this look like behind the scenes? Members and affiliates of our network should know that the board is

  • Composed of passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds (elected by you!) helping to guide the organization. ILA Board members serve on a voluntary basis. We do this work because we are passionate about it.
  • A collective voice. Reflecting back now on six years of Board service (transitioning from a three-year term as a member-at-large to the three-year officer cycle: vice president to president to immediate past president, my current role), I am proud of how Board and staff have worked to position ILA for a stronger future.
  • Engaged in collaborative service. This high level of collaboration has led to the latest strategic planning, fundraising, and program development. It is also a great way to network and leverage your connections in meaningful ways.
  • Always meeting regularly. Through monthly meetings (weekly at the leadership level) and committee work, we set the vision and direction of ILA, ensuring that our programs reach those who need them the most.
  • Prioritizing fiscal responsibility. We do all this with an eye on fiscal responsibility during these ever-changing and often economically challenging times.

With a shared commitment to improving literacy and access to education, the Board works tirelessly to make informed decisions that empower our communities, support educators and, most important, provide individuals of all ages the opportunity to unlock their potential through literacy.

How the Board guides ILA

The Board's guidance is the compass that steers the organization toward a brighter future. Through strategic planning and thoughtful deliberation, we chart the course for ILA, setting clear goals and priorities.

We review and approve budgets, ensuring the efficient allocation of resources to fulfill our mission.

By leveraging our collective expertise, we stay attuned to emerging trends and educational needs, adapting our programs and strategies to remain effective and relevant.

This collaborative decision-making process not only safeguards ILA’s sustainability but also fosters an environment where innovation and creativity flourish, enabling us to make a lasting impact in the realm of education and literacy.

Most important, we listen to our global network of members and serve as elected representatives of the membership at large. We love our members, and your opinions matter!

The benefits of Board service

By now, you may be wondering what the benefits of serving ILA are, given the responsibilities. First and foremost, serving on the Board of a leading global literacy organization is a rewarding endeavor that brings about numerous personal and professional benefits, such as the opportunity to

  • Contribute your expertise. Whether you are a teacher-educator, administrator, classroom teacher, or education advocate, you have opportunities to play a pivotal role in shaping and carrying out ILA’s mission and initiatives. The use of your knowledge further increases your expertise.
  • Network. As I look back on my six years of service, I cannot express enough gratitude in words about the quality connections I have made. Many of you in the ILA community have become personal friends. ILA’s member survey shows members value networking as a top priority, and leadership roles like Board service are some of the best opportunities available to network far and wide.
  • Become a more skillful leader. In addition to learning more about literacy, Board members also gain experience in areas such as leadership, governance, strategic planning, fundraising, and financial oversight. The experience of serving on the ILA Board can also lead to personal growth and understanding; Board members are challenged to think critically, manage conflicts, and advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Become a respected leader. ILA’s Board members are often recognized and respected in their school communities for their commitment to a worthwhile mission and access to reputable research-to-practice resources.

I would like to give a special thank-you to the hardworking ILA Board (both past and present), ILA staff (dedicated and multitalented in so many ways), and members near and far (the heartbeat of our organization). Thank you for trusting me with leading ILA over these last few years.

For those of you contemplating service: You already have what it takes when it comes to the determination and passion for making a profound and lasting impact on the lives of others. Are you ready to trailblaze as an ILA leader?

Find out more about the official duties of the ILA Board or submit a nomination—for a colleague or yourself. The deadline for nominations for the 2024 elections is December 21, 2023.

Kenneth Kunz is the immediate past president of ILA.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in blog posts on this website are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of ILA. We have taken reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in blog posts but do not warrant the accuracy or completeness of such information.

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