Leadership Spotlight: Deena Smith

1.   How long have you been in the League?

This is my fifth Active year. My Provisional year was 2011-2012.

2.   Tell us a bit about your first JLW leadership experience. What inspired you to lead?

During the summer of 2015, I saw there was a vacancy listed in League Lines for a Community Outreach chair. I looked up the committee description and decided to throw my hat in the ring. I self-nominated to fill a late vacancy, and have been immersed in Community Outreach ever since!

3.   Tell us about the other positions you’ve had and what you’ve experienced through the process of developing your leadership in JLW.

This is my second term as Community Outreach chair. It’s still a learning process, because each year the committee members bring different strengths, ideas, and expertise. It’s really interesting having a different group of women tackle the same issues we had last year – but seeing the results come together in a very different way. Sometimes I’m a leader; in providing directions, offering guidance and helping steer us away from pitfalls. Most times, I’m a teammate – pitching in where needed and working to smooth the path and not reinvent the wheel. In addition to dealing with the day-to-day work of the committee, I’m excited to learn more about how my Council works and to work to strengthen my committee’s relationship with other groups within the League.

4.   Share an example of how your leadership skills have grown or evolved as a JLW leader.

I am very grateful that I was exposed to the inner workings of a committee with many moving parts before I was assigned my own to lead. While I was on Literacy Events Planning (LEP), Nancy Peele suggested I serve LEP and the National Book Festival the following year in a very specific role. While completing my assigned task, I was positioned to observe everything that went into planning, executing, communicating, and problem solving with such an active committee. Important takeaways include being accessible (by email, phone, or text) because things change and people always have questions; and the necessity of planning down to the details while being nimble enough to edit those plans while executing them. Working with the League reminds me that every role is important, everyone’s contribution is valuable, and our common goal is to make sure the people we serve receive the services they need. 

5.   What is the number one piece of advice you would give another woman in the League who is considering a leadership role for the 2017-2018 year?

Be open, be flexible, and self-nominate. Speak to the women you’d like to work with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get your hands dirty. 

Are you or someone you know interested in JLW leadership? Nominations for assistant council director and committee chair and rising chair positions and willing-to-serve forms are now being accepted. Be sure to nominate or self-nominate by February 1, 2017! If you have any questions about the nominating process, contact Brooke Horiuchi. Here are links that provide the 2017-2018 Chair descriptions and  ACD descriptions. Find the Nominating form here.