By Mary Mares-Awe—LEADERSHIP, CONNECTIONS, relationship building, common values…these are some of the concepts discussed at last Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 workshop entitled “The Fulbright Branding Effect on Membership Development” that took place in the journalism department at Columbia College Chicago.
The workshop was possible thanks to a small grant from the National Fulbright Association and led by Fred Siegman, a branding expert and consultant to major corporations and nonprofit organizations. Forty people attended the workshop including eight members of the Fulbright Chicago Chapter board. Organized by Chicago Chapter Director of Membership Ana Gil-García, and President Ron Harvey, the purpose of the four-hour training session was to develop a strategy to promote the Chicago Chapter, expand awareness of its activities among Fulbright alumni, and increase membership.
Participants had the chance to get to know one another through a series of communication exercises. Because of the workshop we now know where the term “six degrees of separation” comes from. It’s all about finding commonality with complete strangers and building new relationships.
For me personally, it was fun to learn, in just a few seconds, that I had something in common with the person sitting next to me. It turns out we both are life time members of the Fulbright Association. She had a Fulbright to Warsaw, Poland; my best friend in college was born in Warsaw, and the Cultural and Educational Attaché at the American Embassy in Macedonia, the country where I had my Fulbright, taught ESL in Poland before joining the Foreign Service.
Siegman also emphasized the importance of sharing experiences and learning from each other especially from those who’ve been part of Fulbright for many years. He said the workshop provided a great reflection of cross generational communication and shared interests.
“We have here age groups spanning 40-50 years” Siegman observed. Just then someone chimed in “65 years… or more.” All heads turned in his direction. To everyone’s surprise and delight, he introduced himself as 88-year-old Dr. Bruce Douglas, the first president of the Chicago Chapter of the Fulbright Association. We’ll hear more from Dr. Douglas in an upcoming post in the form of an interview.Photos by Elio Leturia