BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT:
Dr. Tina Marie Coolidge, ACHE President
Can you share how and why did you become a member of ACHE?
When I was working on the thesis for my first graduate degree, my thesis advisor, Dr. Fred Loomis, introduced me to Dr. Tish Szymurski. I connected with Tish to partner with the institution she served as Dean to collect data for my research. At the time I had never heard of ACHE and Tish was currently serving as ACHE President. It really was serendipitous that we connected at that time. Tish’s mentorship and leadership was a crucial component that framed my career and research focus. She afforded me an opportunity to present my research at the ACHE national conference and that was my first introduction to ACHE. At the conference, which, by the way was my first academic conference ever, Tish immediately brought me “into the fold” and introduced me to so many amazing members of ACHE. Many of those individuals are my closest colleagues, friends and are like family.
At the conference, Tish invited me to the conference planning meeting and Dr. Brian VanHorn, whom I never met before, invited me to sit next to him. I immediately knew during that meeting that ACHE was a new welcome home for me. I was surrounded by so many people that are just as passionate about continuing education as I was and continue to be.
Tell us the story of your leadership path from a member to serving on the Board of Directors.
As soon as I became a member, I immediately was invited to serve on the national conference planning committee. Being on that committee enhanced my opportunity to meet national leaders from across the country. Surrounded by such experience and leadership enhanced my leadership competencies and continue to do so. After several years of service at the national level with conference planning, I was nominated and elected to serve in a leadership role at the regional level, as Secretary of the MidAtlantic Region. With continuous engagement at the national level, I was then nominated and elected to the Board of Directors. As a person who subscribes to servant leadership, with each position and role, I was further assured that ACHE was the association for me.
What is the greatest leadership lesson you’ve learned from your experience with ACHE?
This is a tough question to answer as I’ve learned so much as a leader with ACHE. The best lesson that I carry with me every day was given to me by ACHE Past President, Dr. Bill Boozang. He told me, as a leader there is a lot of work to get done, don’t take anything personal and just focus on the work. As leaders, it can be difficult when you are giving an initiative your heart and soul to not take something personally. But, I hear what Bill told me and I refocus the situation to focus on how wonderful it is that others are as passionate about something as I am.
How has being a part of ACHE enhanced your professional competencies and career progression?
My engagement with ACHE cultivates an environment where I am surrounded by leaders, all of whom have different communication, problem solving and leadership styles. I learn and enhance my professional competencies in each meeting. When to use my voice, how to use my voice and the ability to be self-reflective. I take what I learn and apply that learning to my daily work and professional practice. No one is perfect and as a life-long learner, I work every day to better myself. The enhancement of my professional competencies, communication skills and confidence have positively impacted my career progression. In addition, the network I have across the country through the relationships I’ve built at ACHE provide me with a trusted network that I can rely on to support me with any initiative or situation I am navigating.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers about your experience with ACHE?
I would encourage readers to take that bold step and get engaged with their regional board, national board or both! The hardest step is the first step when you enter a room full of strangers. Take that first step. You will not regret being a part of ACHE.