Tuesday, January 14, 2014


In the active duty military, transition is a constant theme.  In fact, it's the backdrop to a lot of what's done -- at every level, in every type of unit, and every day of the year.

Really, really squared away NCOs and Officers often begin working on their "turnover book" or their "turnover binder" as early as the day they start a new position.  

Because they realize that no matter how excellently (or terribly) they perform, they'll be through the revolving door in either 24 or 36 months, they think ahead about how to prepare their successor to be, well, successful.  

The bad ones don't. They take an "apres moi, le deluge" approach, and sometimes go on leave, or flat out refuse to share information.  

Regardless, most people claim to have "had a bad turnover" and vow that they'll give a better turnover to whoever follows them.  Yet, most don't follow through...if they did, the cycle would break. 

Anyway, last night at Gallagher & Cavanaugh (Michael Gallagher, thank you for organizing and moderating this!), I got to see how a transition is done right.  Kathleen Marcin skippered the Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association (LDNA) for ten years, but is no longer able to keep carrying the torch.  Instead of just sort of slinking away into the proverbial night, she called for a special LDNA meeting to basically say, "I've been doing this, and I need to hand it off.  Let's all get together and talk about how to do this smoothly -- who's going to take on what roles, how should things look going forward, what other organizational issues should we consider, etc.?"  

We did.

As with anything, there was some pain involved.  There were a couple people who, sans irony, referred to things that LDNA should have done, or should do -- as if LDNA were some outside, separate entity over which they bore no influence or control.  

Things may have gone over the top when a woman made mention of the need for better gender balance (at the time, the board was headed by a woman, with three males playing very minor support roles).  Big props to erstwhile Lowell blogger Kad Barma, who piped up to say (paraphrased): "I'm going to push you on that a bit...what's stopping you or any other woman from stepping up and playing a role?" 

Seeing my opening, I jumped in to cite Gandhi.  "Be the change you wish to be," I said, before adding that it was "hard to listen" to people who were so vocal about what LDNA should or shouldn't do, yet were apparently so unwilling to take a turn in the batter's box.  

The meeting went a bit long, but things ended on a pretty good note.  We now have two interim co-chairs (Jack Moynihan and Sue Purdy), a new Treasurer in Carolyn Mooney (as minimal as my role was, I'm also quite glad to have made a clean, honorable break), and we've retained our excellent Vice Chair/Secretary duo (Stephen Greene and Corey Sciuto, respectively).  

A huge, much-deserved "thank you" goes to Kathleen Marcin for running the organization throughout a ten-year period that saw tremendous changes to the downtown.  And a second thank you goes to Kathleen for orchestrating a totally graceful and classy exit -- unfortunately, that type of thing is way too rare.

UPDATE:  In the original version of the post, I forgot to mention that Caroline Gallagher selflessly volunteered to take a communications/media role for LDNA.  She has an extensive media background that includes experience with national outlets...having her on board is a huge coup for the organization -- thank you, Caroline!


C R Krieger said...

Agree fully on the turnover folder.

On the other hand, as I was advised once, overlap is bad.  That is the other side of the story.

And yes, thanks to Ms Kathleen Marcin.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lynne said...

Great job, Kathleen! Onward and upward! :) Glad to see such a nice breakdown of how to do it right.

Caroline Gallagher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caroline Gallagher said...


KMM said...

Thank you for the kind words Greg. It is more a selfish move since I sleep better at night knowing my "hit by a bus" file is up-to-date.