By Steve Shlisky
I’ve enjoyed the last four years, mostly for the richness, depth, and intricacies of relationships with the quality people who populate this chapter. Each of the 18 other Chapter presidents brag how their members are the best in the country. I say, without hesitation, that our Bay Area and regional colleagues are the finest professionals in the industry. I am proud to represent you within our local regions and across the nation. Know that our Chapter is much respected among all. This is evidenced recently through the feedback from our virtual Gala last month. Some chapters are already asking for advice for their own virus affected award shows.
Many have facilitated my two terms. I value these unique connections between to the officers, governors committee chairs, national trustees and all the members who care so much for this chapter.
Four years ago Keith Sanders, then the sitting President, asked me to consider running for this office. I was flattered but still happy chairing the Education Committee. It wasn’t until John Odell and Linda Giannecchini, past presidents who served with both ceremonial and constitutional alacrity, took me to lunch and convinced me to run. Linda assured me at the time that I would be effective in the position. She told me to always remember: “To just be Steve.” John, who has held many Chapter positions including National Trustee, multiple Committee Chairs and Secretary, promised to support and advise me going forward. I had great respect for the judgement all three of these early counselors and so enthusiastically took on the presidency.
Part of my presidency included time as a National Trustee. It was a joy to travel around the country and serve with Alison Gibson, Joyce Mitchell, Wayne Freedman, and Randy Forsman. The intelligence and hard work these individuals contribute is amazing. They monitor our Chapter’s interest on a national level and are listened to especially in the areas of awards, finance, national scholarships, and several of other interests affecting this organization.
What our trustees cover at the national level our Chapter Committee Chairs take up locally. I am indebted to: John Catchings (Archive & Museum), Jim Spalding (Finance), Mark Pearson (Legal & Bylaws), Larena Baldazo (Marketing), Alison Gibson (Treasurer), Wayne Freedman (Awards), and Keith Sanders (Education). I want to especially thank Membership Chair Patty Zubov who became my closest advisor. We spoke and met at least once each month during my tenure. Patty and I bounced the ideas which evolved into the Mentor Matches, regional Member Mixers, Spanish newsletter translations, and planning the “Hamilton” event. Patty along with Kim Stephens, Nazy Javid, Joyce Mitchell and Larena Baldazo revitalized our social media presence and streamlined the production of our newsletter “Off Camera.” I also thank the previous Membership Chair Mike Moya for single handedly developing and providing the headshot member benefit.
To our officers who represent our Chapter to the local and outlying regions, a toast, you extend my reach near and far: Don Sanchez (San Francisco), Lexi Sisk (Smaller Markets), Terri Russell (Reno), Pamela Young (Hawaii), Richard Harmelink (Fresno), and Joyce Mitchell (Sacramento). Randy Forsman, a constant and defining presence as Chapter Secretary, took on a position which is hard to fill. He did it well.
As you can see, no one does this work alone and no one mentioned above does much without the tutelage and assistance of our Executive Director Darryl Compton. He is the ethical voice echoing through our heads before we take on any Chapter function. No president could be indebted more to Darryl. He keeps the chapter honest and efficient and we could not do what we do without him.
I have loved this time in the big chair. It did not go too fast or too slow. Nor was it too hard or too easy. I got to serve the Chapter in this unique way. Maybe I can call it giving back to a profession where I spent more than a generation. Maybe it had to do with showing respect to the many members I have admired. Mostly I served the Chapter because I could, because service means stepping out of yourself to make the whole better and service invests myself beyond making a living and creating a comfortable life.
I started as a member in the 1980s. Like many, I was motivated to receive a universally respected award. And that did happen a few times. Over time the award, still a powerful motivator, morphed toward service. I became involved in committee work, evolved to chairing a committee, got appointed to national trustee, and finally elected to a Chapter office. During the decades my appreciation to NATAS has grown. The camaraderie within the local chapter and the experience with the national office went well beyond receiving awards.
I found that service has been an award on its own. It’s inspiring to be in the same room with those newscasters I’ve watched for years, shake the hands of producers and craftspeople I respected and produce activities with content creators I hold in high regard. I’ve learned that NATAS is not just one Chapter on one coast but our chapter multiplied by 20 – 19 separate chapters and a national office. I get to be part of that.
Lastly, fittingly as a final act to my presidency, if there was anything good to come out of this Shelter-in-Place situation, there was the chance to work on last month’s Gala. Virtually everyone mentioned in this remembrance had a hand in its production. I add to this list Julie Watts who invented the new wheel when we pirouetted from a traditional show to a virtual one. A superior achievement produced by skilled professionals and consumed by top broadcasters. It was the first time since my retirement from KTVU that I worked in my profession, with professionals, doing what skills we do best. For the finest of reasons (no member was paid) and the purest of heart (all wanted to make the best possible event) the Gala marked a milestone in these toughest of times. That there even was a show, a driving dedication to do something we did not have to do, is a testament to the character of this chapter. This is why I love our members and am honored to serve along side of you.
I do need to mention Linda Giannecchini once more. This Chapter has always been her special place. We lost her just over a year ago and her presence is still intrinsically felt. She bookended my tenure. At first with her gentle encouragement against my trepidation of the position and now with the ending of my second term her presence watches over the chapter and keeps it vital. Linda’s voice is in my head still telling me: “To just be Steve.”
Thank you NATAS NorCal. I pledge my continuing support to this chapter and to Randy Forsman who replaces me now. I ask all of you to do the same.