July 24, 2006
By Corinna Sager
Farewell? Not a chance! MCA-I NY has become my home in the communications industry. After four years of being president, I’m delighted to say that the chapter is moving forward with renewed energy and commitment and wonderful people in leadership positions, headed by your new president, Linda Lopez, and president elect, Lloyd Nilsen.
Obviously four years is a very long time to lead an organization, especially a media organization in the aftermath and fallout of 9/11, so it is with pride that I look at our chapter now and the changes we have implemented, the people we have attracted, the connections we have made and continue to make, and the high standards we have set.
This is evident in the fact that three leaders of our chapter received national recognition from our international MCA-I office this spring at NAB and ProTrack. Linda Lopez was honored with the Shining Star Award, I myself received the MCA-I Board of Directors Award, and our chapter’s previous past president and international past president, Emma Justice, received MCA-I’s highest honor for outstanding national leadership, the Chuck Webb Award (named after the founder of our organization). That is an incredible achievement by one chapter and shows the dedication of your leaders.
The irony is that I never wanted to get much involved in MCA-I. I was like most of you, a member who attended an occasional meeting, networked and always admired those who got more involved, who donated their time and effort. I always thought, “Geez, I can’t believe people do all that for FREE for us members.” Well, little did I know that I’d be president for four years and would do more than I ever imagined for free. Little did I also know that I’d learn so much and meet such wonderful, talented, and dedicated people.
I became a reluctant president in the summer of 2002 (only because no one wanted the job; so I said, “Ok, I’ll do it for a year”). It was a very bad year for MCA-I. Our industry was still reeling from the impact of 9/11 on business, marketing, advertising, sales, training — you name it. Many of our members who had worked in corporate communications departments were laid off, as were so many others, and freelancers had a hard time finding work. The question was, why would people still want to spend money and belong to an association such as ours? The ovious answer was: only if it was relevant to their lives and their needs, if they could see a benefit.
It then became clear to me, what this role means. It means you must get involved, lead, find solutions, learn new things; and it opened doors to opportunities I had never considered before.
Working together with my board and specifically my wonderful communications chair, Linda Lopez, who was by my side the entire four years, we set out to change things. We developed a new Web site to reflect our new identity (check it out — it now includes job search, industry news, events, and equipment listings). We created an online newsletter, FOCUS on New York Media, which you are reading right now, to share our and our members’ knowledge in the NY communications field. We offered members press release space in the newsletter. We developed new relationships with other organizations such as The New York Television Academy, the Foundation Center, and the DVDA. We held joint meetings to broaden our networking opportunities. And we reached out to the film community and indeed the world, by producing documentary film festivals: first the MCA-I Film Festival (2003) and the Underdog Film Festival (2004), both of which showcased Oscar-nominated documentary shorts; and more recently, Stories from the Field, the United Nations Documentary Film Festival (2005 and 2006), in association with the United Nations Department of Public Information.
Stories from the Field has made us a player. It attracted many new members and many corporate supporters. For two years now we — members and non-member volunteers — have produced an international film festival, and companies and people in the industry are reaching out to us. As the Festival continues to grow, people sense opportunities; they want to work with us, plan with us, get their product shown, get involved with us. This year, people attended not only from right here in NYC, but from as far away as Hollywood and London. Just google the Festival and you’ll see our worldwide reach for yourself.
These achievements only happen when many dedicated people come together — and I must first and foremost thank my board, which has been extremely supportive these past several years, particularly Dave Driscoll, our former treasurer; Gale Grant, our former production chair and co-producer of Stories from the Field; Donna Coney Island, our secretary for twelve years (we need a new one, so anyone willing to join a great team, email us); Carol Nadell, our special events chair; and finally — with a huge thank you — our communication chair and new president, Linda Lopez.
Many times during these years I wondered why I did it. Why I was willing to spend so much of my time. And for what exactly? The answer is clear to me now: Leadership is a challenge. When you don’t like something you can’t just complain to a board member or the president. As a board member or the president you have to DO something about it. And that’s the beauty of it — you CAN do something about it. You CAN make a difference!
MCA-I is an international organization, and the New York Chapter is one of the largest and most active ones. It has been my pleasure to serve as your president and lead the path for renewal. I only hope that many of you will also consider getting more involved in the developments of this chapter. Remember it is YOUR chapter. And if you have ideas, want to see changes, lead chapter development, then YOU must do it. We have several new board members now. Each one will bring his or her personal expertise to the job, and further enrich the chapter. It’s a thrill to see this development and I wish your new president, Linda Lopez, and her board all the best success in the upcoming year.
As for me, I will be rocking the Programs chair! Look out for a better-than-ever season of events — and make 2006-2007 your year to get in the mix!
Immediate Past President