Note from the Editorial Director: The value of volunteering

CDI Strategies - Volume 15, Issue 23

by Melissa Varnavas

I’ve often said that when you ask for volunteers from a group of people, everyone takes a step back leaving only those not quick enough standing in place to be called on to take action.

I haven’t volunteered for much in my life. When I have volunteered, it was generally because a friend or colleague knew my talents and proclivities enough to encourage me to do so. That’s how I started writing poetry after undergraduate school. A colleague asked me to join her at a meeting, then asked me to volunteer to be the group secretary, then vice president. Eventually, I earned my master’s degree in writing, taught some classes, and had several pieces published.

The point, of course, is that you never know where that little bit of encouragement might take you, where that first step forward instead of back, might bring you personally and professionally.

In last week’s edition of CDI Strategies, we opened our call for committee volunteers. We do this twice a year—once in January and once in June. ACDIS currently has eight committees (visit our Board & Committees pages to learn more), each one with six to 12 participants.

Each group has its own, specific goals and mission, each has its own set of expectations and outcomes, its own time commitments. However, the commitment needn’t be onerous. Most committees meet via teleconference or online platform once a month for an hour with roughly an hour or two of on-your-own research or review efforts required.

The three committees now open represent some of our most fun ones. Let me tell you a little bit about them:

  • The ACDIS Events Committee: This group used to be two separate committees that helped plan our live annual conference and our outpatient-focused symposium. In the past year, however, we’ve consolidated the two groups and expanded their focus. Now, the Events Committee helps us plan any/all our events. This group arguably has among the greatest task load of all our groups—but could also arguably have the most fun. They review all speaking submissions, help to direct the topics and focus of event, work with the administration on event activities and gameplay, and provide direction for our education and networking efforts.
  • Furthering Education Committee: This group also used to be two separate committees. Now, the Furthering Education Committee will spend part of the year focused on CDI Week education and activities and part of the year focused on the ACDIS CDI Scholarship Program. We hope that you’ve benefited from ACDIS’ offerings during CDI Week over the years and that you know how much fun it can be to play along. Stepping forward to join this group, means that not only will you be able to influence those activities and education, but also be able to assist in the valuable efforts that are our scholarship program.
  • Diversity & Inclusion Task Force: This group is our newest committee, created to help ensure that ACDIS remains a community that embodies social responsibility through promoting a positive environment of greater diversity and inclusion across all cultures, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages, and educational backgrounds. It helps ACDIS break the silence that accompanies discrimination and inequity to ensure that all feel valued, empowered, and welcomed in this profession and within our association.

ACDIS rotates participation so that each group gets new insight every time a new volunteer steps forward but it also values consistency and lessons learned, keeping a core group to help train and mentor newcomers.To apply for any of these committees, click here and fill out the requested information throughout the month of June.

If you currently sit on an ACDIS board or committee, please take a moment to encourage a colleague of your own to take a chance in service of the CDI profession. If you’re thinking about volunteering and want to learn more, reach out to a sitting member of the committee or any of the ACDIS staff. You can also download and read each committee’s scope of work on the Boards & Committee page of our website.

I’m not going to say that you’ll be writing CDI poetry before you know it, but with each step you’ll be making greater strides toward enhancing your personal and professional knowledge—and having a bit of fun along the way. That’s the real value of volunteering. Once, again, if you're interested, click here and fill out the requested information.

Editor’s note: Varnavas is the editorial director of events and education at ACDIS. Contact her at

Found in Categories: 
ACDIS Guidance, CDI Management