Leadership During a Pandemic

Linda Rowe

When Ronda Jones moved to PebbleCreek in 2003, she had been sewing garments but was not a quilter. She was asked by Cathy Howell if she sewed. Cathy then invited Ronda to a PebbleCreek Quilters meeting. It wasn’t long before Ronda was hooked. “I was just pulled in by the excitement everyone had about making quilts and their willingness to help me learn,” said Ronda. Three years later, Ronda started her leadership journey by serving on the Community Service Committee. During the following years, Ronda served on nearly every committee and board position. Just before becoming president in 2020, Ronda served as historian and webmaster.

Given the extraordinary events of 2020 that are continuing into 2021, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on how one PebbleCreek club leader met the challenge. Due to the length of this interview, it will be presented in two parts.

What have been the biggest challenges in leading a volunteer organization during the pandemic?

The biggest challenge was communication. Initially information was changing constantly. Keeping our members aware of what was going on and sharing ways they could continue to participate was a major issue. However, being the webmaster was helpful because I was able to quickly post information on our website. Weekly emails were also helpful.

Other challenges were having classes and refunding monies paid for pre-paid activities while not knowing how long the quarantine would last.

Like many other clubs, we turned to Zoom as a primary way to hold board and general meetings, classes and small group gatherings and whatever came our way. Since many of our members had never used Zoom, we provided a training class so all could join the meetings. Just seeing each other was comforting and promoted socialization during the quarantine. Being able to continue “Show and Tell” of quilts members were making during the quarantine was also a big hit.

Classes are a bit more challenging. While it was nice to take classes from nationally recognized experts on Zoom, there is nothing that replaces the face-to-face experience. This was most evident during the Quilting 101 class. This is a class for those new to quilting or those wanting to improve their quilting, to learn the best techniques, and get real time feedback. Despite the very best efforts of Cheryl McGovern to use PowerPoint along with Zoom, it was challenging because the one-on-one was missing. Marie MacWhyte even created YouTube videos so that members could re-watch from our website. When members were able to again use the Creative Arts Center, Cheryl had follow-up classes to address questions.

Looking back, if you could do anything differently, what would it have been?

I’ve thought about this many times. We can never see what lies ahead, so all we can do is plan and make adjustments as we proceed. I think that’s all anyone could have done.