What’s It Like To Be On The RNA Committee?
14 October 2020
The RNA is run by members who volunteer to take on a role in the organisation. Some of the most central roles to keeping the organisation running are our management committee. Next summer several of our current management committee – including our Secretary, Treasurer and Awards Co-ordinator – will be reaching the end of their terms and standing down, so we’re on the hunt for new volunteers, so RNA Chair, Alison May has been asking our current committee what they do and what they most enjoy about their roles. Here’s what they had to say…
Celia Anderson, Awards Co-ordinator
I organise the entries for and the judging of the Romantic Novel Awards. The process begins in early May and involves, amongst other things, issuing books (now all digital) to panels of the 260 enthusiastic readers and coordinating the short lists in preparation for the awards event that takes place in March each year. A whole host of RNA members are involved in making this happen, and this is absolutely the best part of being on the committee, in my opinion – the feeling of being part of a well-oiled machine and the help that everyone gives to each other. Teamwork at its very best!
Liam Livings, Diversity & Inclusion Officer
I work with the other committee members to ensure we’re doing everything practicable to create a welcoming, inclusive RNA that promotes and values authors from different backgrounds, varied lived experience and the characters they create.
The best part of being on the RNA committee is working with other authors who are as passionate as me about creating a varied, all-embracing organisation that reflects the broad range of romantic fiction and its authors in 2020. And (in previous times) tea, biscuits, cake & laughs.
Jean Fullerton, Education Officer
My role as the RNA’s Education Officer I have a supporting role and gentle oversight on the annual conference, New Writer Scheme plus as, I’ve been doing in the past year with the RNA Learning workshop programme developing new initiative to enable writers to develop craft and career skills. In addition to this I’m the go-to person for all things appertaining to the RNA Chapters be they regional or online.
The very best thing for me about being on the committee is to be able to use my skills and experience as both a returned university lecture and a published author to give back to this most excellent and supportive organisation.
Virginia Heath, Events Co-ordinator
I’m your friendly Events Co-ordinator, primarily responsible for organising our annual Winter Party and The Romantic Novel Awards celebrations. I source and negotiate with the venues to get the best rates to keep the ticket prices as feasibly low as possible, choose the menus, the all important booze, arrange the right décor, music and tech to put on a good show and then ensure everything runs smoothly on the night. You’ve probably seen me handing out the lanyards as you arrive, before I can enjoy the party myself. As well as that, and because I cannot keep my mouth shut, when I mooted the idea of genre specific online chapters, I also became the overall co-ordinator of those too an am the Leader of the new online RNA Historical Romance Chapter.
I love being part of the committee almost as much as I love being part of the RNA. It gives me a much more fulfilling way of procrastinating when the words won’t come than bashing my head against my desk or scrolling on social media. Not only do I get to a get to give a little bit back to our wonderfully supportive institution, and it is a little as I am not toiling away tirelessly on the committee’s behalf I can assure you, I have also learned so much about the publishing industry on the back of my committee role. It’s fascinating being behind the scenes, get a true feel for the market and an insider’s perspective which has certainly helped my writing career more than hindered it. The camaraderie of being on the committee is also lovely and we really and truly are a democratic bunch. It is invigorating to be around such progressive, enthusiastic and resourceful bunch of people. And, as an added bonus, thanks to my committee role, I have also got to know many of the industry professionals on a personal level too.
Clare Flynn, Member Services Officer
The Member Services Officer looks after the membership, keeping members informed about what’s happening and ensuring they are well served by joining and paying their annual fee. There are two aspects – member communications and member benefits.
The two initiatives I’m focusing on at the moment are the development of a Member Handbook – so that each member has a one-stop port of call to find out everything about the RNA from event timings to discounts, and defining and broadening the “what’s in it for me?’ for members.
Joining the committee is a great way to become more involved in every aspect of our association as well as to get to know all the fabulous volunteers and committee officers who give so much to the RNA.
Annette Hannah, Press & PR Officer
My role is Press Officer for the RNA, which means I am responsible for external communications from the organisation across social media and other platforms. I also liaise with our events Press Officer during preparation for the awards. This year I created new banners and leaflets and I’ve been co-ordinating lots of publicity around our 60th Anniversary, including Romance Reading Month, monthly features in Frost Magazine and ‘Romance Aloud’, a series of podcasts involving many of our members. The highlight has been organising a video message from Marian Keyes to wish us a happy 60th and I arranged for her to be interviewed by one of our authors for Romance Matters, which will be coming up later in the year. I am also a member of the committee which means I need to vote on various proposals that arise.
My favourite part about being on the committee is helping out behind the scenes at events with my fellow committee members who are such a hardworking team.
Bella Osborne, RNA 60 Project Manager
My role on the committee is a temporary one to apply focus for a short period of time to a specific topic – in this case the RNA 60th anniversary celebrations. It’s about ensuring that scope for the project is clear, doable and in-line with the RNA’s aims, that the project is delivered on time and on budget. It means I get to work with lots of terrific volunteers who all come together to make bigger things happen for all of us which is great fun and immensely rewarding.
It feels good to be able to put my other skills to work and give a little something back to the RNA.
Morton Gray, Secretary
As Secretary I am listed on the RNA’s Companies’ House register. I manage the first contact information emails and direct them to the right person in the organisation. Drawing up the committee meeting agenda and collecting and circulating reports for the meeting is a large part of the job and following the meetings I write the minutes, agree them with the Chairperson and send them out. I also fulfil this role for the Annual General Meeting. I also manage some of the RNA’s insurance policies and trade marks.
And what’s the best part of being on the committee? Feeling I’m playing my part and giving back to a supportive organisation.
Sally Calder, Treasurer
I’m responsible for budgeting and overseeing the RNA’s finances. That means I’m the one sitting in committee meetings sucking the air through my teeth when people have bright – but potentially expensive – ideas. I’m also a director of the RNA, along with the Chair and Vice-Chair.
The best thing about being on the committee is being part of such a great team and feeling like you’re contributing to the RNA.
Imogen Howson, Vice-Chair
As Vice-Chair, I mostly support the Chair in her role, and take on other projects as needed. Currently I’m managing our Bursaries and Grants scheme as well as looking into how the RNA can attract a wider membership.
The best thing about being on the committee is the opportunity to work alongside such enthusiastic and generous people as our committee members always are.
And finally, Alison May, Chair
I’m the Chair of the RNA at the moment. That means that I’m responsible for everything else! I chair committee meetings and the AGM. I deal with complaints and problems that crop up and try my very best to anticipate issues before they turn into crises! In more normal times I spend quite a bit of time in London representing the RNA at meetings and events, and at the moment I spend a huge amount of time on Zoom doing the same.
I love the RNA. It’s an absolute privilege to be the Chair, and to work with such a fantastic committee, to serve such a brilliant organisation.
If you’re an RNA member and you think you might be interested in volunteering for a role on the management committee please get in touch.