• MSA Team

Board Spotlight: President

In case you haven't heard, our board applications are open for our 2019-2020 year! Over the next few days, I'm going to spotlight some of our executive board positions with a series of interviews. If you're interested in learning more about a board position or are ready to apply, please follow the instructions here.

Nikole Schmidt

President of the Mildenhall Spouses’ Association

Roughly how much time do you spend a month on MSA?

I recorded roughly 40-50 hours each month. And that is just the activity I quantify, but I definitely spend a lot more in conversations, messages and emails - ensuring everything is communicated properly and moving along. I will say, also, I POUR myself into this position, and that isn’t for everyone. A lot needed doing this year, and my goal was to make it right for the next generation of board members.

Did you have any help and guidance with this position?

Leading leaders is a constant learning experience. The key is to help empower others to lead the team and do the work. Micromanaging this position does not do well; it is a team effort and you have to give people the room to grow into their positions while nurturing them along the way with what you know from experience and vision. The 10,000 ft view that comes with this office is a great responsibility, and it is the President’s job to constantly communicate what that looks like as pieces articulate with each other.

How have you encouraged the development of your team?

I have really encouraged all of my chairs to be leaders, to take control of their part in the equation, and to leave it better than they found it. We have done a TON of work this year surrounding professional development and bettering the condition of our volunteers as seen through the eyes of our community. This group does a lot and they need to wear that for themselves and their future.

What is your leadership philosophy?

I am always growing as a leader, so I love to hear new tag lines or read lots of leadership books on strategy. Here are some of my favorites that have helped to shape my methods this year:

  • Leadership is not about being the best. Leadership is about making everyone else better.

  • Always remember that leadership is a privilege. When you’re in a leadership role, your influence may affect the trajectories of peoples entire careers (and, often, their lives!).

  • It is amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.

  • AND LAST - The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet. (<—THIS ONE!)

How do you organize your work and schedule your time?

I work full-time as well as my President volunteer work - so my days are all jam packed! I need to delicately plan when I will engage in MSA work, but it often flows into all parts of my day because emergencies and conversations don’t wait for a specific time! I try to protect my personal time and put boundaries up, and encourage my volunteers to do so as well, because volunteering is a wonderful thing - but it is capable of burning you out completely if you aren’t careful! We need all of our members to be involved but remain enthusiastic and not overwhelmed. Our mantra for the year has been, “many hands make light the work!"

What aspect of MSA drew you to join?

My interest in spouses’ clubs came from a desire to get involved and help out in the community, but I stayed for the philanthropy of the organization. I have served in many of the roles related to that aspect of our board and continue to stress the importance of all we do in our organization revolving around what we give back to the community. We do have fun, and we do need members, but if we aren’t serving the function of providing more funds to our community partners, more issues arise in the Tri-base community. A lot of funding depends on the events we run and the volunteers we rely on to help us out - it really makes a big difference!

What's something you hoped to accomplish this year in this position?

One of the biggest things we did this year was REBRAND. We wanted to stress what volunteering for the MSA (or being a participating member) can do for your resume, for your skill set and for your self-esteem. This is truly an amazing opportunity! So we became an Association, we focused on bringing professional development to our members, and really developed our processing in the organization to ensure everything was running smoothly and able to be properly passed on and replicated, year to year.

Looking back, what's one thing you would advise the new board to do?

Really focus volunteer efforts on things that won’t burn people out, and always bring it back to what we can offer to our volunteers in any ask. Even for our social events - how can we bring the community together to ensure we aren’t wearing ourselves thin but we are serving the mission - CONNECT, DEVELOP, ENGAGE.

What's next for you?

My family and I are headed to Hurlburt Field in FL this summer, after 4 years here at RAFM. We have had an amazing time, and I know we will leave the MSA in capable hands! I will stay in my role at The Paradigm Switch, advocating for military spouse un/underemployment solutions through harnessing the power of technology to take control of career options! I hope you will all find me, join our community and stay connected with me!

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Please read the following article to see how members from the MSA have volunteered their time to help the local community against COVID-19! Click to read the article.