VolunteerMatch’s new book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, features chapters from 35 experts in the field of volunteer engagement. In this series of blog posts, get to know these #35experts and their areas of expertise.
Today’s expert: Katherine H. Campbell, CVA, Executive Director, Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA).
First of all, what is your chapter about?
Taking Charge of Your Professional Development revisits a familiar topic to encourage a broader, more proactive approach to learning and growth. The chapter suggests a wide variety of professional development options, their benefits for individual leaders of volunteer engagement and their organizations, tips on how to develop a personal, focused plan, and several helpful resources.
Special attention is also given to the concept of a peer career coach. This is somewhat different than the traditional mentor-mentee relationship. Peer career coaching is a flexible model that has powerful benefits for both parties.
Why is this topic important?
Two reasons come to mind. First, whereas most of the book focuses on how we work with volunteers, this chapter focuses on ourselves. Professional development is a critical tool for influencing one’s personal journey and avoiding aimless drifting.
Secondly, we need to remember that our own learning directly relates to our organization’s mission and our community. As leaders of volunteer engagement, we are inherently responsible for relating to both internal and external audiences, responding to trends affecting volunteering, and pioneering new ways of doing things. Actively seeking new information and honing our skills equips us for this role.
Explain your background on this topic. (In other words, what makes you a “volunteer engagement expert?”)
I began my career in the juvenile justice arena where I helped develop a volunteer program in an urban family court system. The profession of volunteer management was still in its early formative stages– so there was a lot of experimentation and learning by trial and error! As practitioners in the trenches, we were a fairly bold and creative bunch, yet we struggled to identify with the title “professional” when few regarded us as such.
As my career proceeded, the vast majority of my professional development was experiential. I marveled at how willingly the older pioneers in this field shared their knowledge and wisdom, and quickly learned the value of expanding my network of peer relationships throughout my state, nationally, and eventually internationally. Did I label it “professional development”? Probably not. But looking back, I now see clearly that it absolutely served that purpose.
A significant milestone came when I became Certified in Volunteer Administration. Although I had already been in the field for over 15 years, I hungered for a way to signal to others that I was a competent professional. Earning the CVA credential met that need and enabled me to fully embrace my chosen path with confidence and pride.
What did you learn and/ or struggle with when writing your chapter?
Although I began with a very broad definition of professional development, I still viewed it as primarily benefiting the individual person. Writing this chapter forced me to consider more deeply the ripple effect of individual professional development on organizations and communities.
What is the one piece of advice you would give volunteer managers to take with them to the future?
Commit to spending a few hours in the next 6 months to invest in yourself. Join a local professional network, tackle a book that challenges your brain, or think out loud with a peer about what’s holding you back from making changes. Even small steps like these can bring clarity and help you make strategic decisions about your personal and professional journey.
Katherine H. Campbell, CVA, has worked in the field of nonprofit and volunteer management for over 30 years as practitioner, trainer and leader. She now serves as Executive Director of the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA), managing professional credentialing programs for leaders of volunteers. She has authored and co-authored a number of books and articles, and has taught as adjunct faculty at several Virginia colleges.
To read Katherine’s full chapter, Taking Charge of Your Professional Development, order your copy of Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World today.