On Monday, August 3, I spoke before the Ames Community School Board, urging the directors to consider naming Ames High School’s new pool after the late Coach Dan Flannery. During this meeting, I was pleased to learn Ames Superintendent Jenny Risner supports naming the pool in Coach Flannery's honor. She shared in her statement her intentions to submit a formal recommendation to the Board at a future meeting. I'm grateful for Board President Alisa Frandsen's invitation to speak on this important action. You can read my speech in full below. We're not done yet, but we're making progress in memorializing Dan's legacy.
My name is Maddie Bro and I'm a former Ames High School swimmer from 2008-2012 and team captain of the 2011 State Championship Team coached by Dan Flannery. I want to share the following letter I submitted to the Board to remember Dan. Thank you to the Board for allowing me time to speak today. A special thank you to the Ames Tribune for publishing my guest column on the topic as well. And it goes...
“Swim with a Purpose. Dive with a Purpose. Win with a Purpose.”
This mantra was coined by the late Dan Flannery, head coach of Ames High School Swimming & Diving for two decades. This motto inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of his young athletes, including myself, to set and achieve lofty goals and carry ourselves with confidence both in the pool and classroom.
This brings us to the purpose of this letter. Today, I write to show my full support for naming Ames High School’s new pool after the late Coach Dan Flannery. I urge the Ames Community School Board to consider this important action to honor the life of Coach Flannery, a man who was a beacon of positivity and integrity in the Ames community and tireless advocate for this pool’s construction.
Coach Flannery was the most motivational coach I worked with in my 13-year competitive swimming career, inclusive of four years as a Division I NCAA swimmer at the University of Iowa. He emphasized the importance of mental preparation in addition to physical conditioning. His holistic coaching translated to countless victories, making Coach Flannery one of the most successful coaches in Iowa high school history. In the last decade, he guided the Ames High Girls Swimming & Diving teams to 8 of 10 state championships and was undefeated in all dual meets. I was a member of Ames High’s first two state championship teams in 2010 and 2011, serving as team captain in 2011. Coach Flannery effectively prepared his athletes for collegiate swimming as well, sending many, including myself, to Division I, II, and III programs, helping us secure scholarships to cover the high cost of college education.
A team is greater than the sum of its parts. However, without Coach Flannery’s leadership, I whole-heartedly believe the Ames High Girls Swimming & Diving dynasty would not have come to fruition.
Coach Flannery passed away in July 2020. The tragedy here is that he will never be able to coach in the pool he fought so hard to build. He will never again be able to inspire young minds to “Aim High” in everything they do. Naming the new pool after Coach Dan Flannery is the perfect way to memorialize his legacy in the Ames community. So, in the words of Coach Flannery, let’s name this pool with a purpose. Let’s name it after Dan.
I thank the Board for its consideration of this important action.
Ames High School, Class of 2012
Hall of Fame Inductee, Iowa High School Swimming
Team Captain, 2011 State Championship Team, Ames High Girls’ Swimming
Team Member, 2010 State Championship Team, Ames High Girls’ Swimming
4-time High School All-American, Girls’ Swimming
10-time Iowa High School State Champion, Girls’ Swimming
3-time Iowa High School State Record Holder, Girls’ Swimming
Finishing school during the coronavirus has evoked mixed feelings, and frankly, is anti-climactic. But, this morning’s sunshine and crisp air cleared my head and inspired me to write this poem.
This spring, thousands will graduate
But the coronavirus will not define our fate
Although we won’t walk across a stage
It is time to turn the page
Brains filled with new knowledge
From towering stacks of books bought in college
Will guide us through life’s next chapter
And journeys unknown thereafter
Most will celebrate their achievement from home
And tune in to virtual commencements via Google Chrome
Graduation-in-place is an unusual way
But it’s important to do so until the virus is at bay
This semester is one to remember
But, fellow graduates,
Know that this adversity makes you stronger than ever.
During times of crisis, we’re reminded of the importance of connectedness. Sticking together can create a common sense of purpose and confidence in one’s ability to face uncertainties that lie ahead.
Embracing connectedness can benefit organizations, too. Nonprofits often face helping the most vulnerable communities during crises, working hard to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
When providing or advocating for public goods, streamlining efforts during a crisis can simplify the implementation of services in the short-term. It can also become a moment of revisioning, or a checkpoint that clarifies strategic priorities to strengthen future work in the long-term.
However, the transition from *many* to *one* can be difficult. Existing duplicities in public services provided to a community can cause tension between organizations with similar missions.
Consider an example I experienced first hand, one involving two organizations that we’ll call Center A and Center B.
Historically, both viewed one another strictly as competitors, taking clients from one another, rather than potential partners fighting for the same clients and mission.
This tension was well known externally among the local political and social justice scene. I was aware of this uncomfortable dynamic, too, prior to accepting a role at Center A, but in light of my connection to leadership at Center B and having been a client of both organizations, I sought to end this hostility.
In 2018, Centers A and B faced a law that would jeopardize a key service and the licensing of staff who perform it. Amid talks with state-level legal partners to file a lawsuit, a Center A board member reached out to me saying legal counsel for Center B expressed interest in filing, too. I contacted the executive director at Center B to schedule a meeting with her, the Center A CEO, and myself. We all agreed joining forces as co-plaintiffs was the right thing to do.
Fast forward a year later: the judge declared the law unconstitutional. This partnership between Centers A and B continues to this day on an array of lawsuits.
This example demonstrates the power of partnership and having strength in numbers. Nonprofits with similar missions can be stronger together and ensure no one falls through the cracks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unique challenges to companies, employees, and job seekers, causing last-minute workplace changes in every industry and field.
Among those special situations are individuals starting new jobs. I’m one of them. It’s rare, and it was sudden.
Four weeks ago, I signed an offer letter with the nonprofit organization of my dreams and gave two-weeks' notice to my then-employer. The next day, my new company instructed its employees to work from home if they are able due to COVID-19, then, a few days later, its building closed.
Remote work is nothing new to me. Half of the positions I’ve held in my career were nearly 100 percent remote with onboarding taking place in person. Next month, I graduate with my master’s degree that I completed entirely online, having never met my instructors or classmates in person. Even with these experiences, I was still scared of my current situation.
Plus, I’m an ENFJ. I really value building relationships with my team. Virtual onboarding means I can’t shake my new boss’ hand, grab coffee or lunch with coworkers in person, or decorate my new office with pictures of loved ones.
Career coaches and human resources professionals will tell you that when working from home, employees should communicate more than you would at the office. Well, when onboarding from home, new hires should do more of everything.
Have more patience.
Show more empathy.
Fast forward to today -- a week and a half on the job. Confident, comfortable, and happy best describe my day-to-day feelings. Not the expected emotions: confused, anxious, and lost. How did this happen? Here’s what I did, and I hope this helps you, too.
“Get Up. Suit up.” My aunt says it best. Show up both physically and emotionally. Every. Day. Logging into Zoom meetings early shows your new boss and coworkers that you’re punctual and tech savvy -- you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with your company’s video conferencing platform(s).
Connect with others. Schedule 1x1 meetings with as many members of your team and department as you can. Then, follow up with a connection request on LinkedIn. Maintaining a baseline relationship with those you will frequently (or infrequently) work with will create a smoother transition once workers return to the office. Kindness is more likely to be reciprocated, too.
Structure your day. I’m one of those people whose anxiety flares up with extra free time. Outlining a clear schedule from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed allows you to follow step-by-step instructions throughout your day: wake up, workout, walk the dogs, shower, eat breakfast, power on your computer, etc. It’s efficient, too, helping you conserve mental energy that you might have used between tasks to decide what to do next.
Track your progress. Develop a 30/60-day plan that includes status updates for HR paperwork, skills training, organizational reading, and your first projects to stay organized. This could take the shape of a table in Microsoft Word, Google sheet, or other project management platforms like Airtable. Don’t be afraid to share your screen and show this off during 1x1s with your manager. Show, don’t tell.
Be patient with yourself and others.
Smile. No, this is not a gendered suggestion because you’re a woman and therefore responsible for your team’s emotional labor. You should smile during video conferencing calls because it chemically makes you and others around you happier. We all deserve more positivity during these trying times.
Be kind. Like the saying “the only constant is change,” the only predictable element of COVID-19 is its unpredictability. Assume positive intentions of those you interact with. For yourself, strive for progress, not perfection. Remember: We are in the middle of a crisis. It’s okay to slow down.
For those starting new opportunities and work-from-home journeys, I wish you all the best. I hope these tips help ground you. You’re not alone. You got this!
On the cusp of closure, Howard Brown Health Center rallied its supporters around what it does best: serving Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ community by providing comprehensive and nonjudgmental health care. Check out the case study below for analysis and best practices on building and executing an effective emergency fundraising campaign.
The following is a case study analysis I conducted in graduate school for the Digital Strategic Communications course in the University of Iowa's Master of Arts (M.A.) in Strategic Communication program.
The International House of Pancakes (IHOP), a family restaurant chain known for pancakes and breakfast dishes, flipped the script last summer when it made a dramatic name chain to promote a new line of burgers on its menu. In June 2018, IHOP announced the reversal of the final letter in its name: “IHOb” – “b” standing for “burgers.”[i] (Figure 1)
IHOb’s menu of seven new burgers attempted to challenge fast food classics like McDonald’s Big Mac with its own “Mega Monster” burger. “Everyone knows that IHOP makes world-famous pancakes, so we felt like the best way to convince them that we are as serious about our new line of Ultimate Steakburgers as we are about our pancakes was to change our name to IHOb,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for IHOb restaurants.i
The announcement set the Internet on fire. IHOP President Darren Rebelez said the company garnered “32.3 billion earned media impressions, 20,000 news articles,” and made them the “number two trending topic globally for Twitter, just behind the North Korea summit.”[ii]
Fast food chains weighed in on Twitter. Wendy’s, a national burger joint notorious for its aggressive tone on social media, tweeted the day of the announcement, “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard” and “Remember when you were like 7 and thought changing your name to Thunder BearSword would be super cool? Like that, but our cheeseburgers are still better.”[iii] Waffle House, a breakfast food chain, said in a tweet accompanying a copy of its burger menu, “Even though we serve delicious burgers... we know our roots.”[iv] Burger King, another fast food competitor, temporarily changed its name to “Pancake King” on Twitter.[v]
One month later, the company revealed the name change was simply a publicity stunt.[vi] (Figure 2) The name change followed IHOP’s 1.9 percent decline for same-restaurant sales in fiscal year 2017. Founded in 1958[vii], International House of Pancakes, LLC is a subsidiary of Dine Brands Global (NYSE: DIN), which is also the parent company Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar®.[viii] Although IHOb has been retired, the stunt netted unprecedented social media engagement for the 60th birthday of this pancake chain. IHOP’s pancake commitment has never been stronger and the burger menu will be sticking around, too.
2019 brought a new set of challenges: Moving halfway across the country, juggling a new full-time job, part-time graduate school, and a two to four-hour daily commute. Amid the chaos emerged a new beginning. 2019 was transformational for my outlook on productivity and success in the workplace.
What changed? I conquered my anxiety.
How did I do it? Yoga and meditation.
Finding stillness and grounding myself was once an impossible task. Nerves once swallowed me whole. I'm one of those determined and driven types who cares a lot. Now, I control my anxiety; it no longer controls me.
For those who feel smothered by seemingly unattainable to-do lists and goals, consider checking out Yoga With Adriene, a YouTube channel with dozens of free instructional videos for folks of all ages and abilities. Adriene has curated a truly judgment-free zone with exercises for both the body and mind.
Yoga is now a nearly daily practice of mine. Taking 10-30 minutes each day to re-center empowers me to show up more fully as a professional, friend, and partner.
For me, stress manifests in my upper body. Linked below is personal favorite. It's just 10 minutes -- Give it a try!
Consider the following pros and cons of virtual channels:
As for original intent, the distribution phase appears to be made easier by virtual channels to access wider audiences. Maintaining original intent is a more difficult task to attain due to the feedback loop of two-way social media interaction.
With this in mind, the following objective is a solid framing to make the most of virtual channels. Not the following organization is fictional:
To grow Bluebird Innovations (BBI) Twitter following to more than 5,000 followers by end of 2019 calendar year.
Career Update: I’m moving to Washington, D.C.! I have been named a 2019-2020 Communications Fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As a member of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT), I will build strategic communications campaigns to inform and educate the American public and world about cancer research and treatment.
Working in the D.C. area for the U.S. government’s top agency for cancer research is a dream come true. I’m honored to be one of 14 selected nationally for this prestigious fellowship and thrilled to continue building a career dedicated to fighting for accessible health care and education for women, girls, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Cheers!
For those wanting to take action and financially support patients and Planned Parenthood in the states who’ve faced recent extreme abortion legislation (Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri), this post provides clarification about how your contributions can make the greatest impact locally.
Planned Parenthood does incredible advocacy work nationally in the form of a “federation.” However, it is state and regional-level affiliates like Planned Parenthood of the Heartland whose funds and staff provide the important on-the-ground medical care and sex education in your community and around the country. This was a misconception noted during the 6-week abortion ban passed in Iowa during the 2018 Legislative Session.
In other words, if you want your donations to directly support patients, health services staff, educators, and all who keep Planned Parenthood’s doors open, please consider contributing to state and regional affiliates. For instance, to support patients and staff in Iowa, donate to the affiliate located in Iowa: Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
Outlined below are the Planned Parenthood affiliates who do this important work in Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri:
Thanks for supporting women, families, and LGBTQIA+ folks, all!