Who We Are

Rebecca Lord - ISA Ontario (Canada)

Sebastian Poutsma - Kring Praktiserende Boomverzorgers (Netherlands, Europe)

Lisa Hanussak - Utah Community Forestry Council (USA)

Andres Ochoa Prieto - Asociación Colombiana de Arboricultura (Colombia, South America)

Rebecca Lord – Component Executive (ISA Ontario)

I always look forward to the Leadership Luncheon at the ISA Annual Conference.  Usually held on the first day of the conference, it is the perfect time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and meet up with new component executives. This year was particularly eventful as we had so many new staff with ISA, and this lunch is such a great opportunity to sit down with them, and find out where they have come from, and what makes them tick.Most of all, it’s wonderful to put a face to a name.

As usual, after the customary “hello hugs” were passed around by ol’ friends, the lunch was enjoyed over a lovely chat.  We then we moved into the ISA update, with feedback/questions from the component executives.  Caitlyn Pollihan, ISA executive director gave us all an update on where ISA is and where they have come from.  We could all agree, it’s been an uphill climb with changes at ISA and challenging to work with the component executives to keep their members updated, engaged and less exasperated. Pollihan was happy to report that she felt that the organization has turned the corner now, and the components should feel that knock on effect! If I can speak on behalf of the component executives, this is something that we are very much looking forward to, and would like to express our gratitude to ISA staff, for a job well done! It’s been a long road, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  As usual, ISA is there to support us, and hopefully this will become easier in the near future, as staff are hired and become more familiar with their jobs, ISA and our industry!

Lastly, a plug for the Leadership Workshop. If you have not previously attended this meeting, I can speak from a few years of experience; it is very beneficial for incoming Board members and/or staff, and for component executives.  We have a valuable meeting with component executives the afternoon that the workshop begins.  This gives the executives an informal opportunity to sit down and discuss all those things that go wrong and go right, within the component. It is really important for other components to hear this information and equally as valuable for you to take information away. The Workshop is packed full of educational opportunities for the leaders, and you certainly come home with a lonnnnngggg “to do” list!

This year was a great opportunity to see the new ISA offices, get to know Atlanta, and meet all those new ISA staff.  It is so important to build relationships with staff and network with component leaders around the world.

Leadership Workshop (LSW) Atlanta 2019 

By Sebastian Poutsma (Chair of the Dutch chapter)

Attending the ISA Leadership Workshop is a valuable experience each year. As chair of the Dutch chapter (which means Holland or the Netherlands, a small country in Europe with the capital of Amsterdam, known for its wooden shoes, tulips and red light district), we come to the event to learn how to meet the organization’s challenges and create friendships with other component executives.

A little background on our chapter: Holland is densely populated, roughly one large urban area with little forest land. Our chapter has about 900 members; most of them are practical tree workers. We have a small board of volunteers (five members) and we outsource our accounting and have 1.5 days of secretarial assistance. Our main activities are providing information and knowledge through “knowledge information days” and distribution of a magazine.

I have been on the board of our chapter for four years, initially as the treasurer, and, since the beginning of 2019 as a chair (though it feels a lot longer). I have been invited to attend the ISA Leadership Workshop by our former chair from the beginning, but I was not interested at all. We are a national chapter and do not have a lot of contacts with our neighbouring countries. We do have a connection with Belgium, our southern neighbour, since we speak the same language. But this is not even a very close connection. We have no contact with other foreign chapters, let alone did I know what happens at the other side of the ocean, regarding trees. Off course I knew we are part of a global organisation of arborists, but I could not find a reason why I would spend time to go to the USA for some meeting. I just did not see what I could learn there, what I could not also find in our own country.

In 2018, our former chair finally persuaded me to go to the meeting (then held in Champaign, Illinois). I gave in since we had internal board problems and externally more information providers started which could mean a reduced need for our organisation. This trip would cost the chapter little money, so I was willing to go.

I was overwhelmed by the luxurious hotel, good food and fancy conference halls. What a difference with the low budget meetings we often organise! All was well planned and neatly organised. The majority of attendants are Americans, of course, but members from all continents where present. Many persons in similar organisations with the same passion for trees and all have familiar issues and challenges in their organisation. I realised there is a huge tree-family gathered around ISA.

That meeting was so inspiring for me that I volunteered, successfully, for chapter presidency in 2019.

I was excited to attend again, to see the new office in Atlanta and to meet some of the new staff. I must admit, this time I was prepared and was not so impressed by the surroundings and workshops as the first time.

Most importantly, I realised that most problems we face as an organisation presently, some other chapter faced them earlier and they found a solution. So, why reinvent the wheel? Is it not easier to contact the right chapter and learn from them? I also realised that as an organisation there is a lot to receive, we should be open to give away information for other “younger” chapters since they can learn from us.

It was nice to meet the staff and get an idea of how they are situated. This makes a long distance phone call less far away. The “evening workshops” with colleagues and board members in restaurants and pubs were also great. The red phonebooth bar was really interesting.

On one session of the meeting,we talked about generational differences. It was meaningful to learn how to reach the younger generations. It was also useful to learn how the different generations like to gather information. Generational differences are globally the same, so this applicable for all countries. On the other hand, non-American chapters have different legislation, culture, language and organisational problems. So, it was not strange we ended up with some of other the European participants in the same bar. I know this also happened with the Latin Americans since many of them share Spanish as the same language, and it is not always easy to speak a foreign language.

We ended Leadership Workshop with a big action list with short- and long-term actions based on the information from the workshops. What I realised is that it would be meaningful to have a session for the non-USA chapters. It was striking that during one session that dealt with USA legislation and problems, many of the “foreigners” where at the back of the hall behind their laptops. Maybe there is room for a European, Asian or Latin American subgroup. Such a group could sit together to start cooperation under the guidance of ISA.

Our large family of arborist organisations and can learn from each other. The ISA has heaps of tools and information that our chapters can befit from. This is my personal conviction. I have to my best to transfer this ISA-enthusiasm to the individual chapter-members.

Lisa Hanussak - Utah Community Forestry Council (USA)

As the component executive for the Utah chapter, I had the privilege of attending the ISA Leadership Workshop. I am not able to attend every year. However, I was determined to make it this year, and I did! I was also excited to extend my trip to visit my parents (and the beach) in Florida prior to the meeting. I was born and raised in the St. Petersburg, Florida, but, 25 years ago, my husband and I moved to Utah due to a job. With winter coming (not my favorite time of the year) at home, I enjoyed spending time with my family and soaked up as much warmth and sun as I could.

Then, it was time to fly to Atlanta, and I knew the weather was not as nice. However, I was excited to attend the ISA Leadership Workshop to be around people who love trees, want to educate others, want to learn more and want to have fun seeing and talking with others involved with ISA. Plus, I wanted to meet the new ISA staff to match faces with names.

When I landed in Atlanta, I took the MARTA (the subway) to the hotel. I love observing people, so it was interesting ride to the Westin. My room was on the 25th floor not even half way up as the hotel has 70 floors!

The first meeting I attended was the Component Executive meeting. I saw some people who I have met in the past and a lot of new faces. I especially enjoyed hearing from Oraya Sutabutr who started the Thailand organization with her husband because they wanted to help others.  Her story was amazing!  What dedication, love, and time they have and are sharing with others to learn more about trees!

Our Utah Chapter editor, Rachel Broadbent, also attended this conference with me, and we met up at the kick-off reception. Before Rachel walked in, I saw Aud Norunn who is from Norway. We started talking to each other and another friendship was formed.  Her story is also amazing. She told us that it took her almost 55 hours to get to the meeting, she lives on an island and has her own boat!

On Wednesday, I enjoyed attending the Future of Membership session.  It was interesting to learn how Baby Boomers to Millennials think and act. It gave me a different perspective on how to talk to and respond to different generations and what they value in a membership. The information given to me is making me think about different strategies on offering a membership and what benefit expectations potential members may have.  I heard others say what their memberships include, learned about member involvement, why people join, and always to find out more from members how the chapter can best serve them. 

After this part of the conference, I attended the program discussion on Women in Arboriculture and Rachel attended the Student Outreach. We both gained some great information from all of you that we can use in our chapter. It was great to hear from everyone what works in their chapter and what they want to have happen to make it even better for members.

That evening we all walked to the new ISA office.  Once again, it was fun mingling with others and meeting new people before the tour of the ISA office. The first thing I noticed during the tour was the interesting plant wall. I want one of those for my home! Then, I saw the gorgeous new table that had just arrived that was made especially for ISA. What beauty and love is shown by a tree crafted into this table to be enjoyed by many who will sit around it. The new office is beautiful and has nice views. Now when I call, I can picture where someone is sitting.  Great job ISA in creating your home away from home during the work day!

On Thursday, we were all privileged to hear from Tip Tucker Kendall (what a cool name) on memberships. Once again, I gained valuable information that I can use in our chapter. I wrote down a lot of ideas that I hope to use or use better in our chapter.  I want to thank Tip, Diedrea White and the rest of her staff on the great work they are doing on membership services and their willingness to help us in our chapters to help our memberships grow.

Afterwards, Anne Beard, ISA’s president-elect, spoke and then we had a credentialing services round table discussion led by Director of Credentialing Services Luana Vargas. Finally, Caitlyn Pollihan, ISA’s executive director, talked to us about the future of ISA. All of these discussions gave all of us more knowledge to help all of us grow together. 

At dinner at the Braves All Star Grill, friendships were grown even more. We also walked around and saw the Ferris wheel at Atlanta’s Centennial Park where some took a ride. Walking around a big city is a lot different than walking on the beach!

I had to leave early Friday morning but I left with new friendships, new ideas, new knowledge and new determination. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and want to thank all who put so much time and effort in putting this together and for all of you who work at ISA to help all of us.

Andres Ochoa Prieto - Asociación Colombiana de Arboricultura (Colombia, South America)

Attending the 2019 ISA Leadership Workshop, held in Atlanta in October, was a great opportunity to be exposed to new ideas, perceptions and experiences from the other ISA components. It was a great way to know “where we are” and “what are we doing” as a community within the industry, and it was to hear how, regardless of where you come from, our issues are quite similar. We are all trying our best to improve our organizations and the industry at local levels. The sharing of experiences is priceless, and it reminds us that we are walking similar paths and focused on the future.

I have been part of ISA for almost a decade, since I became an ISA Certified Arborist ®. Since I became the executive director for the Asociación Colombiana de Arboricultura (Colombian Association of Arboriculture or ACA), I have been a lot closer to the organization. I used to perceive ISA as a huge international organization beyond reach that we try to follow. But through these opportunities to connect with ISA staff and other component leaders, I realized how close it is to our component, our members and even to me as an Arborist, as well as how important we are in ISA´s world. We are following ISA but it is helping us work together to create a stronger industry, develop trained personnel and build an amazing worldwide network.

This was my first time attending the Leadership Workshop. For sure, I did arrive with high expectations and with the goal to know more about how fellow components handle their issues on daily basis, finding solutions to the challenges ACA is facing as it grows. Perhaps I did not get every answer to our problems; however, I did witness a great community spirit, all around good vibes and camaraderie from all the people who attended, which is so common in our arboriculture industry. It gives me a great hope for the future in our industry because as one of us grows, we all grow as well.

I came back to Colombia full of ideas and a list of things that we can do and apply in our component to continue growing with the help of ISA. I thank ISA for all the effort done to organize the workshop and for creating this opportunity for the components. I will certainly attend an ISA Leadership Workshop in the future as there is still plenty to learn and share.