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CSI West Region Leadership Conference Fall 2016



West Region Leadership Training Conference

Santa Ana, Ca.

November 5-6, 2016

The CSI West Region is composed of CSI Chapters in the states of California, Hawaii and Nevada and is organized to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas to further the purposes of the Construction Specifications Institute in the region and at the chapter level.


The West Region conducts a yearly leadership training conference to provide chapter officers, board members and committee chairs with tools and insights to be more effective in the operation of their chapters.  This fall, the leadership training was held in Southern California. The East Bay Oakland chapter had several new board members attend the training.


The conference is preceded by a West Region Board meeting on Friday to discuss and vote on West Region business. The following is a brief outline of this weekend’s activities.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Paul Kane, West Region President welcomed the leadership conference attendees.


Ed Buch, of the Los Angeles chapter, kicked of the morning session with an overview of the schedule and description of presenters and topics for the day, the coaching sessions that would take place in the afternoon and the Sunday group strategic planning activity. He said it is important that all attendees exchange information, especially if they are a new leader, and to ask questions about chapter operations.   We made self-introductions of all attendees, giving our Name, Chapter and role, and what type of work we do. Ed reviewed the following key points.


  • Leaders make the chapters successful, help the chapter define success, keeping members in the chapter and attracting new members.
  • Leaders must plan for their successors on chapter boards and committees, find them and help them to improve on the previous leaders effort.
  • Leaders recruit volunteers and convince them to participate actively.
  • Leaders must do their work, and share the load with other chapter leaders.


  • Why join CSI?- some reasons for joining CSI
    • Professional growth
    • Technical information
    • New business contacts
  • Why do members keep their CSI membership? –
    • Think they are getting money’s worth
    • Satisfied with results
    • Because of personal relationships/friendships
  • Every chapter leader is responsible for membership retention and growth, not just the membership chair
    • Talk to about why you joined CSI
    • Have a membership table at all events
    • Keep membership applications with you as you visit colleagues
    • Contact members with upcoming renewal due dates
    • Contact non-renewals to find out why they did not renew
    • Contact members that do not attend events and find out why

Sue Bowman– Sue is the new CSI Director of Marketing and Membership

Sue came out from Virginia to join us and share what is going on at CSI Institute offices.  The last two years have been challenging for CSI at the Institute level. The Executive Director and other members of Institute staff left CSI. There were management and operations problems, especially with the IT system and website, that are still being resolved.

A new CEO was brought on board last year and a thorough business review of CSI operations, Mission and Goals was conducted, resulting in a new “Policy Governance” style of management.  The Mission and Goals are outlined as follows;


CSI exists so that:

Members enjoy an environment conducive to realizing their full professional potential –

(with results optimizing return on available resources)


(1 thru 5, not reflecting any order of priority)


  1. Members have building information and project delivery knowledge.


  1. The construction industry recognizes CSI as the leading technical resource for the built environment.


  1. CSI’s credentials are recognized as “gold standards” of competence.


  1. Members engage in a robust community of related professions and organizations.


  1. Members receive exclusive benefits and discounts on CSI products, programs and services.


Sue advised that the CSI Institute staff are dedicated to providing customer service and listening to the CSI membership, while working within a realistic budget. She wants to know what the chapter boards need from Institute, to help support our efforts in delivering valuable services to all CSI members.  CSI will be improving information delivery to members, moving away from publications and more into digital delivery that is stable, mobile and state of the art. This leadership training conference was Sue’s first face to face interaction with chapters. Other key points;

  • CSI has rolled out a new website, csiresources.org that will eventually replace the old csinet.org website.
  • CSI is embarking on a study to help determine the value of the Certification programs (some of the funding is from the NSF). This will provide information to help CSI move certification education into college level courses. There is a new Manager of Certification for CSI.
  • Cathy Stegmaier is new Chapter Relations manager. Matt Fochs, who has been a help to us all over the years, has a new position as Technical Services Manager.

Valerie Harris of the Los Angeles chapter led a review and open discussion of chapter operations;

Chapter leadership, finding successors for leadership and recruiting volunteers for chapter committees.

  • Long-term leaders should be open to helping new leaders, let the new leaders take over operations.
  • Long-term leaders can help with other roles on committees and task teams.
  • Important to define and share the chapter mission and goals; where is the chapter going and what do we want to accomplish?
  • Not everyone wants to be a leader, but they may want to help in some way. Listen to what they are saying and find a way for them to help, within their means.
  • The chapter board sets the tone for the organization, present a positive example.

Finding volunteers to help the chapter; recruit people for tasks that are suited to them. Find enough volunteers to share the load of the committee or task team.

  • Monique from the LA chapter offers that sometimes they do not have a formal committee, but “swarms” of helpers, with no “chair” just folks getting together to get stuff done.
  • Chuck from Redwood Empire, says they have an “SOP, standard operating procedure”, breaking down tasks is helpful. Just give this SOP to the volunteers for them to follow.
  • The East Bay Oakland chapter is in the process of writing task descriptions for their Chapter Operating Guide.
  • Tim from East Bay Oakland says, tell the volunteers that it is ok to ask for help, or clarification on a task, encourage and reinforce this with new volunteers.


Don’t make assumptions that everyone automatically knows what the chapter is doing;

  • Share chapter goals often
  • Clarify volunteer roles, let volunteers know where to get information or help
  • Give feedback, volunteers come and go, share experiences in order to help new volunteers

What leaders can do;

  • Active listening with volunteers about their experiences, mentoring and support for volunteers
  • Discuss matters publically, keep the information flowing, seek input from new volunteers
  • Evaluate and reflect on the chapter efforts, lessons learned.

See handouts from Valerie for more information:

Handouts (PDF)

Bob Seigrist from the Fresno chapter reviewed financial planning;

  • CSI chapters are non-profit.
  • Finances are the responsibility of all board members
  • Keep accurate information on income and expenses
  • Be aware of all reporting due dates; IRS Form 990N, State Form 199 and Secretary of State non-profit registration, all due yearly.
  • Budget committee should be chaired by the President-Elect. Budgets must be approved by the board at the start of the new fiscal year July 1st.
  • Be aware of any tax issues when co-sponsoring events with other entities.
  • Two signatures required on payments, two people keep track of monies collected at events.

Paulette Salisbury of the San Francisco chapter reviewed income sources for chapters;

  • Diversify chapter fund raising, do not keep doing just one event that has worked for you in the past.
  • Look for sponsorships outside your usual chapter support
    • Other Manufacturers
    • A/E Consultants
    • Reproduction companies
    • Consider services in lieu of monetary support; printing, mailing, catering, in-kind promotion, equipment rental, etc.
  • Leveraging sponsorships
    • Technical articles for the website
    • Sponsor biographies on website
    • Newsletter sponsors
  • Evaluate the Return on Investment of your events, and how much effort it takes.
  • Partner with other construction organizations; Builders Exchange, AIA, DBIA, consider setting up an Affiliations Committee.



At lunch break, each table discussed sponsorships for chapters and chapter events.

After lunch;

Sheryl Dodd-Hansen from the Sacramento chapter reviewed proper procedure for conducting chapter business during the board meetings.

  • Roberts Rules of Order.
  • The importance of the Presiding Officer conducting the meeting following the official agenda in order of importance, having a quorum (per chapter by-laws).
  • Secretary keeping accurate minutes.
  • Making motions

See Sheryl’s handout for more information:

Handout (PDF)

The group discussed sponsorships;

  • With other industry construction organizations
    • LA has WWCCA party, building materials, trade associations
    • Estimators
    • Inspectors
    • Announce other organization events on your website
    • Get other organizations to speak at chapter events
  • DBIA joint meeting. Contact their local education committee, they need specification information from CSI and CDT material.
  • Other ideas
    • Designers fashion show
    • Speed dating with manufacturers and specifiers, like the CSI specifiers retreat, Chicago chapter event.
    • Building tours, events like the SC chapter Levi stadium tour.
    • Outreach to schools Fresno and Sacramento chapters working with Chico State, Cal-Poly, Sac State.
    • Get design firms involved
    • Owners associations, BOMA, IFMA, etc.




The late afternoon session we broke up into coaching sessions on various topics.

  • Awards
    • Chapter level; use the Outstanding Chapter Commendation criteria as a checklist for chapter operations. Every chapter should apply. Keep you awards programs brief. Describe what the award is being given for, what specifically did the individual do for the chapter.  Be aware of due dates for submitting awards.
    • Region level-Best of the West, Frank Smith, Jim Butler, Wilber Johnston awards, check the West Region web site for kinds of awards and submit proper information by the deadline.
    • Institute awards, OCC, every chapter should submit, big criteria is to increase membership, other criteria should be easily achieved. Fellowship, requires much work and documentation, explain the story of the individuals impact on the construction industry. Submit on time.
  • Social Media
    • See the hand out and reference to the EBO blog on Social Media.
  • Chapter Website
    • Mitch Lawrence gave a tutorial of how the LA website was set up, host, website program, how to manipulate data.
  • Programs and Membership
  • Budgeting
  • Setting up a Chapter Newsletter
  • Certification
  • Effective Fundraising
  • Survey Monkey for Elections

Sue closed us out for the day with thoughts to prepare for tomorrows strategic planning exercise.

Strategic planning is really the process of planning. Focus not so much on the planning but what your goals are. Consider the following five questions;

  • Where are we now?
  • What is changing in our environment that will affect us? (technology, politics, environmental requirements, etc.). What is in our control/what is not in our control?
  • Where do we want to be? Think in terms of short term and long term goals
  • How do we get there?
  • How do we know when we get there (and was it worth it)?




Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ed gave a recap of attendees, he noted the following about the attendees; 18 Architects, 14 Product reps, 2 Contractors, 1 Other.  A good mix.  Attendees CSI membership duration; 4 – less than 5 years;    12 – 5 to 10 years; 3 – 11 to 15 years, 16 over 16 years.

Paul talked about the upcoming West – Northwest Region Conferences, Seattle 2017, Alaska 2018, LA 2019 . The West Region has been having Bi and Tri region conferences the last few years to help share cost and resources of putting on these events. San Diego included WR,NWR and SWR; Spokane WR, NWR.

Valerie kicked of the planning exercise. We worked in groups and tackled issues each group wanted to work on. Each group was to apply the five questions that Sue reviewed with us yesterday.

Our group was comprised of Dan, Jerry, Tim, Joel from EBO and Monique from LA. We worked on Increasing Membership Participation in Chapter Events.

  1. Where are We Now?

We discussed the current state of our dinner meeting attendance at both the EBO and LA chapters. Based on our collective observations, the two chapters have similar percentages of total attendance and a similar breakdown based on the type of member/attendee category.

The percentage of members who attend meetings is approximately 25%-30% of total chapter membership.

The types of attendee categories were described as;

  1. Chapter leaders who attend meetings regularly
  2. Chapter members who attend meetings occasionally
  3. Non-members/speakers/guests/sponsors

Each meeting includes approximately 33% of each type of attendee category.  This breakdown is for a well-attended meeting, if a meeting is not as well-attended, the percentage for category a) member, increases.

Even though LA is a much larger chapter than EBO and has more attendees at each dinner meeting compared to EBO, the percentages were roughly the same in both total attendance and type of attendee category.  I attended a chapter meeting in Portland last year (a very large membership with 60 to 80 members attending each meeting) and they said they had a similar total and category breakdown percentage of attendance.



  1. What are factors affecting us and what is in our control and not in our control?

Factors not in our control include;

  1. Overall economic situation
  2. Business climate
  3. Members schedules
  4. CSI Institute dues cost

Factors in our control include;

  1. Meeting venue (restaurant, hotel, office, etc.). Select a pleasing and affordable venue.
  2. Meeting geographic location. Select a place that is easy to reach for members.
  3. Time of meeting. Generally early evening.
  4. Programs at the meeting. Select informative, relevant and timely topics, fun too.
  5. Networking opportunities. Give members a chance to talk with one another, be creative.
  6. Benefits to members. Find out what is important to members.


  1. Where do we want to be? Short term and Long term.


  1. Short term, we want to increase membership participation in monthly meetings by 10% to 15%.
  2. Long term, (we did not agree on what we wanted long term, we will keep working on this one). EBO will continue to reach out to other industry colleagues to increase participation, continue to offer free dinners to members (at least for this year) and build membership. We have increased membership.


  1. How do we get there? Short term and Long term.


  1. Leadership outreach directly to members (Personal touch), phone calls, e-mails.
  2. Promote and develop sense of community/friendship/fellowship
  3. Program topics – current, popular, interesting, entertaining
  4. Joint meetings with other industry organizations
  5. Collect and analyze data from past meeting attendance. Categorize by program type
  6. Base future programs on analysis of attendance and feedback from attendees.
  7. Target invitations to non-members, allied industry groups.
  8. Collect and track “how did you find out about the meeting” data




  1. How do we know when we get there (and was it worth it)?


  1. See the increase in member participation we planned for
  2. What kind of effort did it take, what metrics were helpful, and not so helpful?
  3. Follow up with improvements to process.


We decided that we will keep gathering data on this and share at the next WR Leadership Training Conference.  EBO to keep in touch with Monique in LA.


Highlights of other work group report outs;

Redwood Empire

  1. The chapter has several younger members taking leadership positions. Encourage all chapters to find program topics and resources for younger audiences, current technical issues. Listen to younger members, ask what they desire to see CSI provide.

San Francisco (LA, Fresno, Honolulu)

  1. Getting members to meetings; have a regular meeting time/location. Get program announcement out on time.
  2. Getting your chapter house in order; create an organization chart to go with your operating guide. Each board member has a committee or two. Each committee develops tasks, committee member does at least one task.
  3. Breakdown the task efforts needed and make it clear to volunteers.


Santa Clara (Fresno, Honolulu)

  1. Declining membership and revenue, doing well is 25-50% membership attendance at meetings. Need good programs
  2. What is changing
  3. Develop the CSI brand. Have a good “elevator speech”, define “what is CSI” in a few words.





  1. CSI should market more to contractors. Design Build is becoming more popular
  2. Don’t call them meetings, (party, event, program, forum, whatever)
  3. Our electronic data (websites) should provide more useful information so we are seen as a resource.
  4. We need to connect with local college faculty to get to the students. Even though CSI does not become more relevant to young professionals until mid-career, they know who CSI is.



Chapters represented included:


The agenda for Saturday:


The agenda for Sunday:


CSI East Bay-Oakland Chapter President Dan Galvez gave a presentation on the growing importance of Social Media to CSI chapters. We encourage anyone who wants more information to check out the presentation and our follow up post on the topic. We believe that Social Media is an important method of increasing chapter and organization visibility to potential new members both now, and even more so in the future. This is a topic that we would like to expand on and hopefully get others involved in.



To see the full photo album from the conference, Visit the album on Google Photos or check out our Facebook page. If you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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