So this November 2016 would have marked the 10th anniversary of the nossa group. Wow! 10 years ago! Unfortunately, the group ended in 2013. It was quite a ride though. When I reflect on the many ups and downs that I had experienced with nossa, I can't help but think of my direct role in both our success and our failure.
The first major challenge I faced as a board member involved a controversial statement made by our Secretary. He was asked to comment on a Nebraska criminal case in which a short man was given a very lenient sentence for child molestation. Joe was quoted in the media as being in support of the lenient sentence which resulted in the group receiving a great deal of negative backlash. The board decided that Joe should step down as Secretary of the group. I was angry with Joe at the time as i felt that he should have been more careful with the words he chose with the media. So I did not ask him to leave as respectfully and as graciously as I should have. If I could do it all over again i would have stood behind not the comments he made but the man who was making them. Joe is a committed activist. He was the kind of person we needed in our corner for the fight against heightism. I could have learned a great deal from this man who i had considered a friend and a mentor. The end result was our losing a valuable member of our team and years of hostility.
Steve was our founding Treasurer. A smart IT guy, he is the owner of the Short Support website that gave rise to nossa. Throughout his involvement with the group, Steve was perpetually on the fence about the need for an organization. Steve participated for several years before finally making the decision to leave. As a leader on the board of directors, it was my responsibility to build a strong and committed team. But I never took the time to sit down with Steve and talk with him about how he was feeling. Open communication is essential in team building. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference in Steve sticking around, but it certainly would have improved Steve's experience and participation on the board by addressing his uncertainty.
Chris served as both our President and our Vice-President. Chris was the kind of leader that we all strive to be. Chris would never ask anyone to do anything that he himself would not be willing to do. I will never forget the images of Chris standing alone on a Manhattan street corner holding a sign denouncing heightism. How many of us would have the guts to do that all alone? Chris eventually grew frustrated and left the group just prior to the end in 2013. Like the situation with Steve, I did not take the time to sit down with Chris and discuss how he was feeling and what we could do together to build a strong team where everyone felt that they were a valuable and essential member of the team.
Clearly my greatest failures with nossa were my communication and team-building skills or lack thereof. This is an essential aspect of any effective organization. I hope that anyone who comes behind us learns from my mistakes and will come together as a team. Because that's the way we could have made a difference. Despite my mistakes, i am still proud of my accomplishments with the group. I was part of something bigger than myself. I helped to form a group that challenged a pervasive prejudice in society. Maybe i inspired or influenced a few people along the way. And to my fellow activists, I want to say thank you for being a part of that with me. Although I am no longer actively involved in this issue, I will stand behind your efforts and support you as best I know how.