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Fellows Forum Memories – From Carla Thompson

I was at Build Business in Boston 11 years ago and a woman came up to me and thrust her hand out and said, “Hi, I’m Kenda Salisbury and I’m the incoming President-Elect for the Seattle Chapter.”  I was the incoming Senior Advisor to the Seattle Board of Directors, so I was delighted to meet her. Several months later she fessed up and told me she was nervous to talk to me in Boston because she thought of the Fellows as “SMPS Glitterati.” I was stunned—and not in a good way--when she said that because the role of the Fellows is to “serve as a resource at the chapter, regional, and national levels, providing insight, ideas, programs, and mentoring for the benefit of the members and the Society.”

Kenda’s perception was my new reality. She was right—our Fellows were not very active in Seattle Chapter activities and it wasn’t just our Fellows and our chapter that had that problem. So I made it my mission to get the four other Fellows in our chapter—Bill Strong, Ted Sive, Karleen Belmont, and the O.G. of our chapter, Vicky Cooper—to join me in a program that would bring members and Fellows together in an intimate setting to share our experience and challenges in an interactive format over a glass of wine or two. Now, here we are 10 years and 36 Fellows Forums later, Kenda is a Fellow and, hopefully, whenever a member or aspiring member sees one of us, they’ll say hello, or feel free to ask for advice, or invite us to coffee. There’s nothing glitterati-ish about us at all.

The success of the Seattle Fellows Forums inspired me to take this program national. I went on to become the Fellows Delegate on the National Board of Directors because I was passionate about activating Fellows across the country and getting them engaged in their chapters. It’s been incredibly rewarding for our Fellows to reconnect with each other and with our members. I just hope the Fellows Forum attendees have learned as much and gotten as much value out of our interactions as we all do. Here’s to 10 more years and more new Fellows to follow in our footsteps!

By Carla Thompson FSMPS, CPSM, Zweig Group.


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  1. Heidi Maki

    Dec. 5, 2019

    Great article, Carla! I never knew the story behind how the Fellows Forum got started. So funny that it was Kenda that got you thinking!


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