On Leadership

Bea Leopold served as Executive Director of the National Society of Genetic Counselors for 18 years and worked with 18 Presidents during that tenure. "I was often the recipient of sympathetic gazes and stares of astonishment about the short 10-12 month tenure of the association’s presidency," she says with a grin.

"How can a President accomplish anything with such a short tenure?" was a frequent question from colleagues and new leaders in the field. The abbreviated length of Presidential time in office never bothered her. If anything, the short tenure often served as an enhancement and motivator, once the President-elect understood that work initiated in a Presidential term may not be completed in that term, but would be a legacy to the association.

"The most successful Presidents were those who understood the power of the volunteer/staff partnership. This understanding trumped the nuances of all personalities and work preference styles …theirs and mine," she noted.

Whether working with strong, vocal, visionary leaders or quiet, behind-the-scenes, To-Do List personalities — Presidents she communicated with daily, weekly or less frequently — she found that the stronger the volunteer/staff team was valued, the more successful the vision and mission of the association was advanced and the more fulfilled the President felt.

Another stated benefit was that the stronger the volunteer/staff team, the more successful the President perceived the term to be and the more likely s/he was ready when it was time to turn over the reigns and responsibilities to the next in line.