Dear Global SE Community,
Volunteer service is at the heart of any successful nonprofit organization. In my nearly 40 years of work with nonprofit and professional association communities, I have had the honor and pleasure of working with hundreds and hundreds of individuals who have freely given of their time, talents, and passion simply because they wanted to contribute to the organization’s vision, mission, and core values and were committed to its success and its potential impact on the world. This has never been so true or apparent to me as during my time with the SEI community.
I am extremely grateful for the steadfast dedication and love of our community to provide service. The cadre of our training assistants (over 1,000 individuals, collectively providing thousands of hours of support) consistently provides the container and the care to support our global faculty and students in trainings currently conducted in dozens of countries and territories. The quality and growing stature as one of the world’s best instructional programs in trauma resiliency and resolution would not be possible without the devotion and commitment of our assistants.
Additionally, in just over three years, we have moved from a three-person board of directors managing a challenging transition period in SEI’s history to a true volunteer governing board of nine individuals selected through an active and intensive nomination and interview process. We have created and built a committee system made possible by dozens of dedicated, expert volunteers that focus on key issues and initiatives of the organization, including research, governance, finance, communications, fundraising, and culture, to name a few. We have established our first international humanitarian task force with the European Association of Somatic Experiencing (EASE) and SEI bringing SE principles and education to those in need in Ukraine and neighboring countries, again with volunteer time and leadership.
The possibilities and opportunities for the growth and increased awareness of Somatic Experiencing globally depends on individuals, one by one, who raise their hands, give their hearts, and share their intellect with the desire to lead and serve for the betterment of SEI and the fulfillment of its vision to transform lives by healing trauma. As the current year of the SEI Board of Directors ends on June 30, I would like to pay tribute and give recognition to two incredibly special individuals who exemplify and personify the meaning of servant leadership – our outgoing past chair, Michael Changaris, and our current chair, Rebecca Stahl.
Michael has been on the SEI board for nine years and was instrumental in providing steady and visionary guidance to the organization during his tenure, especially the last four years where I had the honor and pleasure of receiving his gift of mentorship. He has brought patience, persistence, and purpose to SEI in all that he has done in his board years, whether it has been providing structure, policy, and direction to our initiatives in research, finance, and board development or simply to be of support to staff and fellow board members when needed. Michael has given many, many hours of time beyond any imaginable expectations to SEI because of his love for SE and the SE community. I have deep gratitude and appreciation for you, Michael.
Rebecca’s two years of service as board chair have been a sterling example of leadership under fire with grace. As SEI unveiled its strategic plan in early 2020 and began to build its professional staff and capabilities, we were confronted with a never-before-experienced pandemic that nearly shut the world down, almost taking SEI with it. COVID quickly changed the landscape and provided another set of unexpected circumstances for SEI to consider before Rebecca assumed the chair role in July 2020. No matter the situation, all hours of the day or the week, Rebecca has made the time and space available to serve SEI with their voice and the special ability to bring people together through articles in SE Today, ambassadorship at our trainings and participation in all kinds of meetings, many times going beyond the call of duty. You have been a special friend, partner, and support to me and the SEI staff, Rebecca. Thank you so much for what you have personally given to all of us.
Ten days from now, the start of a new board year awaits us with incoming chair, Michele Solloway, elected to lead for the next two years and to take our agenda and exciting initiatives ahead. I look forward with anticipation and excitement to the possibilities in front of us.
And to all of you in this thriving and passionate community who have given of your time and talent to grow and cultivate SE across the globe: thank you. Your service, support, and commitment are what makes all of this possible.