Home CSI CSI West Region Leadership Conference Part II

CSI West Region Leadership Conference Part II

Note: this report from the CSI West Region Leadership Conference was written by Timothy G. Schoder. To see the report posted by the East Bay-Oakland Chapter, click here.


West Region Leadership Conference – Fall 2016  –  November 5th – 6th, 2016

Embassy Suites, Santa Ana, California

Report by Timothy G. Schoder, CSI, CDT, LEED AP BC+D

Attendance at the West Region Leadership Conference is an experience that all up and coming and even veteran Chapter Leaders should attend if they have the opportunity.  All Chapters should include in their budgets monies to make this happen.

The Conference is a forum that stimulates and promotes enthusiasm that sometimes is lacking in most Chapters.  Interacting with the presenters and other experienced members encourages all participants and also reinforces the fact that there are a plethora of individuals that are more than willing to help anyone and all Chapters to be successful.

The conference opened on Day One Saturday, November 5th, 2016, with a round of introductions of the attendees by Ed Buch from Los Angles..  It was very interesting result from the introduction tell of how long you have been a member.  It ranged from 4 months to 30 years.  There were many with less than 5 years as a member.  This is exactly the target audience.  These newer members are the future of the organization.

The presentations continued with a session on Chapter Succession and tools for success by Valerie Harris. (see handouts)   All leaders are encouraged to find their successor and hand the torch to someone so that you can move into newer roles.  Having a mentor program is a good idea.  Train someone to do your job.   Getting volunteers is very difficult for all organizations.  When recruiting volunteers, try to find ways to show them the opportunities that are available to them so that they can see the returns on investment.   Let them know that they are not alone.   Have some short statements (SOP similar to Redwood Empire) that can be shown, given or explained, to the newbie so that they can pick a path that suits them.  It is a bad habit to get the new guy involved and then they are president with no direction, explanation, training, guidance or help (San Francisco).  Institute (Sue Bowman) also has some power point resources available.  All Chapter committees are not individuals and need to be part of the whole.  An example was given as the Membership Committee can’t do the recruiting all by themselves.  It takes everyone’s efforts.  This is true for all committees.  Easy to say hard to do, committees should not be committees of one.  If there are more participants the load gets shared and no one is overwhelmed.  Paul Kane has the West Region Operating Guide as a resource for all chapters as they write, edit and update and modify their Chapter Operating guide.  The guide should be a living document that gets revised as the Chapters evolve with the economy and local community environment.


Sue Bowman is now the new National Chapter support contact.  She gave a report on the Institutes organizational health.


Newly hired CEO

Fractured organizational Infrastructure

No clear budgets

Frustrating Customer Service

Crashed data base and IT problems

Best practices resources not readily available

Lacking supplemental staff


Improve information delivery system – go digital

Help development of members in every stage of their carriers

Improve resources and resource retrieval

Provide knowledge base for committees

Acknowledge diversity of thought and knowledge

Improve on-line information and access for members (revamp entire system)

Create better and improved website (library of videos and other media)

Hire new “getter-done” people

A lively discussion around the room was had regarding the responsibilities of being a Chapter president.  Finding a successor and getting people to help is always a creative challenge.  Having a board retreat is one way to assist and get everyone on the same page as a “team” and agree on common goals for the Chapter.   Creating a Chapter calendar and keeping it current is another toll that would help.

The West Region Treasurer, Bob Segress made a presentation on Chapter finances.   (Power point handout)  Strategies were discussed on how to categorize your Chapters budgeting as it is a constantly fluctuating document and bust remain flexible as the Chapter evolves.

Discussions continued on how to collect revenues.  Each Chapter must determine what works best for their chapter.  Brown Paper Bag, Pay-Pal, Square are a few models discussed.  For events an overall total budget is established then the costs and revenues applied and then a final report is made.

What is the ROI.  Revenue vs time involved is it worth it?

Each event has to be standalone and have its own budget in the overall Chapter budget.

A suggestion came up to spend the Chapter monies to assist members to participate in additional events (Conferences, seminars, etc.)

A presentation on how to conduct meeting and the use of Roberts Rules of Order was conducted by Sheryl Dodd-Hansen.  One notable point was to make sure you have a copy of the Chapters by-laws handy for reference.  (See Handout)

Ideas that were inspired for the EBO Chapter – Have a winery donate logo wine glasses for our 50th anniversary party.

A presentation on how to keep your Chapter Solvent was then conducted by Paulette Salisbury.

(See hand out) There were lots of discussions about revenue generation and how to think outside the box.  You never know what works until you give it a try.  Continue to have joint meeting with close organizations and sometimes to open up to outside organizations.

In the afternoon the sessions were in a more targeted structured.  The ones I attended were as outlined below.


The programs session was hosted by Monique Birault and Ed Buch both from the Los Angles Chapter.  The session was initiated by them giving a hand out list of the last 3 years of their programs.  They use the list to promote new members.  Show them the list and say this is what we do.  It can keep fuel in the fire.

Programs are the blood of most Chapters.  It is what usually draws in the new members.

We discussed resources for programs.

Read the newspaper and trade magazines.  Many times there are interesting articles in there that with a little follow could result in an interesting topic and speaker.  Resources include local newspapers, Architectural publications, other trade publications, Union fliers, and other association publications, expos, even at Universities.  Look around you would be surprised what is out there.

When attending other trade or organization meetings sometimes it won’t hurt to ask the speaker if they would be interested in speaking to CSI.  Ask.

When planning the programs for the year, it is good practice to have a few flex dates as you approach speakers.  We understand that it gets more difficult as the program slots get filled.  If a speaker has only a select date and it is full, look to re-arrange the speakers, most time they are flexible.

When scheduling a tour, sometimes a two-fer can be arranged.  The first month have the PM or contact give a talk on the project, then the following month have the actual tour.  Even factory tours could be interesting if they are available in your area.

A program can be as simple as a social hour.  Everyone bring a guest to just mingle the entire evening.  Could be the meeting after the installation of Officers, “Come meet your new officers, bring your ideas, mingle etc. This is YOUR Chapter” (Includes one free drink.  LOL)

Plan to have joint meetings with other surrounding Chapters.

Use a Tech Talk or similar topic.

Carry CEU credits are a very good way to encourage members to attend.  (Member incentives)

Use an advertising incentive to get speakers.  We will advertise in our newsletter and offer free table tops etc. (Speaker incentives)

I am in the process of soliciting the lists of other Chapters past programs as a resource for speaker/program ideas.  Once the lists are compiled it will be posted on the West Region website for all program committee chair and all others to use.


The certification session was hosted by Kathryn Marek and Tan Diep Both from the Los Angeles Chapter.

The discussions were focused on what the certifications were; CDT, Construction Document Technologist, CCCA, Certified Construction Contract Administrator, CCPR, Certified Construction Product Representative and CCS, Certified Construction Specifier.

Resources available from Institute include Slide Show modules, Practice Tests, Guide Books and other items, all available at the National CSI website.

National sells the modules for the Chapters use.  Each Chapter is required to purchase them for their individual chapter’s classes.

Suggest an 8 week length of study courses to cover all materials.

Suggest having mock exams to better prepare students.


The Fundraising session was hosted by Craig Mott from the Los Angeles Chapter.

Fundraising should be looked at as an Opportunity for the sponsors to participate.  Make the sponsors feel that there is a value benefit for them; networking, meeting new people (contacts and customers).

The programs also need to be of service to those who contribute.

Successful ideas for fundraising included;

  • Make convenient times for the event
  • Make opportunity for sponsor advertisement
  • Have targeted invitations and flyers
  • Make invitations as personal connections
  • Start early on solicitations and invitations
  • Be organized – get enough help for the entire event process (pre-event and the event)
  • Make the event enjoyable for participants
  • Solicit feedback (and share with sponsors for repeat sponsorships)
  • Suggestions included beer fests, wine tours and bus tours

At the end of the session the organizers had dinners arranged at various restaurants in the Santa Ana area and they had signup sheets so the participants did not have to stress about dinner plans and it was encouraged to mingle with participants from other Chapters to share fellowship and ideas.  The evening was a great success.


The Conference concluded on Day Two Sunday, November 6, 2016 with a welcome again by Ed Buch from Los Angeles.

An announcement was made regarding then next few West Region Conferences;

Bi-Region Conference in May 18th – 20 in Seattle

Construct in September 13th – 15th in Providence

Bi-Region Conference (Dates TBD) 2018 in Anchorage

The participants broke into small groups and were tasked to come up with a strategic plan for a Chapter to include;

  • Where are we?
  • What is changing our environment that will affect us?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How do we get there?
  • How will we know when we get there?
  • Evaluate, Rate Return on Investment, and the Matrices

Our group started by evaluating the current participation of the Chapters in our group. (Los Angeles, Orange County and EBO)

It was determined that the average member participation range was about 30%, (for LA it was about 25 participating of 70 Members) and we thought a reasonable goal would be to 35%. (+4 new participants)  Membership broke into (3) basic groups; 1/3 Constant, 1/3 One off tours and 1/3 guests and other.

The items affecting us that we discussed included; Business Schedules, Venue Variations, Economy (Business Budgets), Benefits from Organizations, Time (Lunch vs. Dinner) Programs and topics and costs (Dinners, National and local dues).

We asked ourselves if we were in the normal range of participation vs other organizations.  This would help to determine if an increase was even possible in the current business climate.  Some investigation is required to find out from others such as; AIA, ASCE, WESCON etc.

The goal of 4 consistent participants was determined to be reasonable.  This goal could also be measured in the appropriate time frame to determine if the efforts were successful.

We discussed on how we would accomplish the goal.

Include more personal participation of current members to reach out to get more members to get involved.  Use the networking and contacts in the industry.  Personal calls have worked.  If we make the calls more show up, if no calls are made less show up.

Be comfortable at meetings; be friendly and allow fellowship to follow.  IF you see new participants, engage and talk to them for continued support to participate.

Having quality programs and good advertisement is also a key factor for constant continued participation.

Have Joint meetings with other organizations is another strategy.  Some members may be joint organization members and see the networking opportunities.

Web based advertising and targeted invitations are additional avenues for participation.

Have programs on current topics.  What are current in the area would be topics for constant draw of members.

Once the strategies are in place have a follow up matrix.  Keep data from past meetings.  What topics worked well and were a big draw what were not?  Surveys sometimes do not get replies that one would expect.  People are too busy for surveys.  Send personal e-mails, member to member see to work better and a personal phone call works the best.  Ask; how did they hear about meeting?  Give the members options for the result answers that were used in the metrics; e-mail, topic/program/speaker etc.  Ask at the meeting too, of those who attend.  Simple questions asked around by a designated person and KEEP THE RESULTS.

The return matrices would determine if the strategies implemented were successful.  This matrix would help.

Once the time was up, all small groups presented their strategies and metrics.  When each group made their presentation there was much discussion on their thoughts and ideas and Lots of good additional information was presented to the group.

These Region Leadership Conferences are fantastic resources for members, and leaders.  It is encouraged that ALL CHAPETERS use their resources to send their members to these.  They are well worth all the monies.  They are extremely valuable return on investments.  These are Conferences are highly recommended.  Thanks to all those who attended and those who presented and organized the Conference.

Respectfully Submitted

Timothy G. Schoder, CSI, CDT, LEED AP BC+D

East Bay-Oakland Chapter CSI West Region Director
















Share This