Interview With The PA-TSA Committee Vice Chairs

As the state conference is approaching and committees are at the height of their work, I wanted to focus my blog post around state committees. I thought a unique way to do this would be through interviewing the vice chairs of the state committees. Being a vice chair is a great way to enhance your PA-TSA experience and make connections. This year, Jonathan Xu, Phillip Gao, Tanisha Johri, Zane Al-Saleem, and Katherine Smith hold the positions of vice chair on the Outreach Committee, National Service Project Committee, Communications And Promotions Committee, Conference Sessions And Activities Committee, and Bylaw And Resolutions Review Committee, respectively. Here’s what they have to say about their committees and their experiences as a vice chair.

Question: What do you do in your position as a vice chair?

JX: As vice chair of the outreach committee, I coordinate with the chair, the secretary of PA-TSA, to help run the committee, executive its objectives, and to help committee members go about completing their tasks. This year, I’ve had the pleasure to work with a really great secretary, Megan Cooper, who has really helped the committee and me as a person in executing those tasks, getting to know the members better, and serving in a leadership position. I think this year, we changed things up a little bit, even though membership has been a little sporadic, we’ve focused on making sure that everyone had a team that they could rely on for getting things done. We’ve broken up into three different subcommittees, I led one of these committees and helped push its initiatives and the program of work assigned to it. I would say overall, as a vice chair, I was in the role of coordination as well as just helping out members and subcommittees with their work. 

PG: Within the National Service Project Committee, we split our committee up into three parts. There’s chapter fundraising, which is the part I take care of, the state treasurer, Arnav Dhingra, takes care of conference fundraising, and we also have another part run by Michelle Zheng who runs the NSP blog and takes care of outreach. We each have different responsibilities, but mine is mainly to focus on chapter fundraising responsibilities. This year we’re working on developing an online fundraising kit which involves things like a list of fundraisers that chapters can do, and a form for questions where chapters can meet with different NSP committee members to basically talk over ideas and establish a plan for fundraising. This year is a little different, we normally would do more at a state conference, but right now my main responsibility is to help chapters out with their fundraising.

TJ: As a vice chair, the committee chairs, Madison and Avery, gave me the opportunity to lead my own subcommittee, the surveys and polls subcommittee. In that committee, we’ve basically managed to figure out how we want to go about things to make the best surveys and polls for the PA-TSA social media. We wanted to really connect with the members and hear their feedback, and then put that feedback out to the rest of the PA-TSA members. Basically, we’ve created a monthly survey document where we list what questions we want to put out, and we edit those questions every month. We’ve put out the January and February surveys, and those were successfully completed, which is nice.

ZA: Basically, I help out the chairs with things like the agendas and the other things that the committee has to write up. I also help out the different subcommittee with planning their special interest sessions. The committee is split up into groups that work on the different special interest sessions, and each session has a person in charge, and I’m in charge of some of the sessions. I’m also available to help out with everyone else’s sessions.

KS: As a vice chair, I help write the meeting agendas with the chair, who is the parliamentarian, Ben Moldovsky. I also take attendance, and I would say I help lead the meeting. I also get to lead my own subcommittee, which meets once a month. 

Question: What are you most proud of your committee for accomplishing this year?

JX: I’m really proud that the committee has been able to do exactly what it set itself out to do. At the beginning of the year, Megan had a really cohesive plan that we met to hash out a bit. She had a very comprehensive plan for each of the subcommittees where she laid out the groundwork so we knew what we had to have done by when, and she also had meetings planned. In each of the subcommittees, we were basically assigned a task which included things like making flyers or making certain lists of opportunities for the members. This was all about laying the groundwork for future years, given the circumstances this year and how it is somewhat difficult to do outreach right now. I think at the end of the day, or at the end of our primary set of meetings, we were able to do what we set ourselves out to do, and each subcommittee was able to completely fulfill each of their objectives, so I’m really proud that our committee as a whole was able to get everything done. 

PG: I think that our progress this year has been really good, there’s been a lot of work done in my subcommittee particularly because our work is very clearly defined. We still have a lot of work to do, like listing out fundraisers, or giving answers to lots of questions that people may have. Once we start the initiative where we reach out to chapters and meet with them, we’ll probably find that that’s very tasking, but I’d say we’ve been staying on top of things, and I think we’re going to get our virtual fundraising toolkit out in time for the state conference and by the end of Miracle Month. 

TJ: I’m really proud of the committee for putting out the surveys so far, things have been tough with everything being virtual communication-wise, so being able to come together and put out those surveys is something that I’m pretty proud of.

ZA: I’m most proud of our committee for being able to work around the issue of being virtual. When I started I didn’t think we would be able to have a lot of the sessions be virtual, but as we moved along we found a bunch of creative ways to work around that.

KS: Something that I’m really proud of my committee for accomplishing this year is that even with not being able to vote on any bylaw amendments at the state conference this year, we still were able to produce two proposals which are postponed for next year. My subcommittee wrote a proposal together that I’m really glad we were able to create. 

Question: What have you learned about PA-TSA and yourself as a leader through your vice chair position?

JX: This is what my advisor, Mr. Piotrowski often says, but leadership is about being a servant; it’s about servant leadership. I can find this message really clearly written in my own experiences as a vice chair. I think that being in a leadership position in TSA warrants that you have the capacity to really put this committee, and this organization, above your own whims and wishes. Leadership, really, is all about the service and all about putting your best efforts forward into making something better. I’ve learned that first-hand from my experience as a vice chair, and I really hope to further that experience in my future in TSA.

PG: I’d say that I’ve learned about accountability. I myself had been busy with my events especially around regionals, along with other members of my committee, so what I did was communicate with all of my committee members. I remember the week before regionals I had a lot of work to do on my events, and some members communicated to me that they were also busy, so we worked together to set up another meeting time and we were able to basically offload our work for one week, but we made sure that we were able to adjust our workflow so that we weren’t behind. Even though we had a really busy schedule with regionals, I made sure that our committee communicated well so that we could stay on top of our work.

TJ: I think that communication has been pretty hard, so as a leader it’s important to take initiative, which is something I’ve seen not only in the committee but in TSA teams right now. I’ve definitely learned that taking initiative is an important part of leadership.

ZA: I’ve learned that everyone who is a part of PA-TSA committees is always working to find solutions to all different kinds of things we want to see happen at the state conference. I’ve learned that in order to get on the path of having the right ideas, people will already have those ideas, but you just have to guide them to produce those. If you work as a team, you can bring out everyone’s ideas and use that to move forward.

KS: One of the great things about being on a committee is that you get to learn about how PA-TSA works throughout different regions with other members. For example, through a committee icebreaker I have gotten to learn things like how some chapters are smaller than others, or how some chapters have different traditions. I think that this is very interesting because it’s a way to bond with other members of PA-TSA in ways other than competing in your events. The committees also have really friendly environments. I way I’ve grown as a leader specifically by being a vice chair is with the increase in responsibility that comes with being a vice chair. I’ve really had to learn how to plan and lead parts of my meetings and my subcommittee meeting. 

Question: How have you grown as a leader throughout your years in TSA?

JX: I think that leadership was a very foreign thing for me when I first joined TSA—I joined in 6th grade—as I had never been subjected to this kind of thing where you had so many opportunities to exercise leadership, and so many events both within your chapter and outside of it. I was really foreign to this, especially when it came to things like watching a bunch of teenagers doing really cool projects. I think as I’ve grown and gone through these years in TSA, I’ve learned what leadership is really about. As I said, it’s about putting your best effort into making the organization better. I’ve seen that first-hand not only in my chapter but also on the state level as a vice chair. Having that experience, having that ability to help others get things done, has really shown me what leadership is about, furthermore what servant leadership is about. 

PG: I have to stress again that communication is definitely key. I remember when I was an officer in 7th grade—even though middle school officer positions weren’t really demanding—that my communication was much worse than it is now. Our officer team would meet about once a month, and not really get much done, even though there wasn’t much to do as a middle school chapter anyway. Now, my officer team meets about once or twice a week, we make sure that everyone is getting everything done, and we make sure that everyone knows what they need to do. Our communication is very good now, I’d say that basically anytime someone has to miss a meeting they always tell the officer team, which is amazing, considering that that doesn’t always happen in other clubs. I just love how I have been able to develop my communication skills as a leader and also how other members on my officer team are able to communicate and let everyone know what’s going on.

TJ: I’ve really learned that in a team, it’s not only important to lead but it’s important to listen to everyone else’s ideas, which also applies to the committee work we’ve been doing. I’ve learned that it’s also important to apply your own ideas to what others have to say.

ZA: I’ve grown as a leader by seeing how people work and seeing what people need to thrive. I’ve learned that people need different things and have different specialties. You don’t always have to tell people what to do, but you have to see how they want to do something and then guide them in the right direction.

KS: Starting out, I joined my first committee last year when I was in 8th grade. I knew that committees did a lot, but this year as a vice chair I really got to see what happens behind the scenes and the amount of effort that goes into planning each and every meeting. For example, we work on planning our agendas about two weeks before the meeting happens, and sometimes I meet with my chair before the meeting to discuss what’s happening, and of course we meet after the meeting to record attendance and send out emails reminding everyone about the next meeting. It really shows that there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make everything happen smoothly. 

Vice Chair Fun Facts: 


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