Volunteers at the heart of AME

Friday, April 13, 2018

People volunteer for AME for different reasons… some do so to give back to the lean and continuous improvement community, others volunteer because they want to meet like-minded peers and gain insights they can take back to their companies. Whatever their motivations, volunteers have been the key ingredient for AME’s success since day one.  

Next week (April 15-21) is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. As a volunteer-driven organization, AME relies heavily on volunteers at all levels: from short-term opportunities as a writer or an event host to longer-term, to higher-level opportunities such as a member of our annual international conference planning team, to leadership roles on the management team and board. Even the chair position is held by a volunteer. Simply stated, AME could not exist without the hard work from its volunteers.

Leading the way is Ellen Sieminski, VP of volunteer support. A volunteer, herself, Sieminski has volunteered with AME for 12 years and finds that for her, volunteering is a “labor of love.” She began volunteering because a Midwestern regional board member saw her at a few events over the course of a year and suggested she join a group of peers who were equally as passionate about continuous improvement.  “I had no idea how much I would love both the act of volunteering as well as the people with whom I volunteer,” Sieminski says. “While I’ve held a variety of AME roles, right now it’s truly an honor to help my fellow volunteers get the most out of our collective volunteer experience.”

AME volunteers strike a pose at the AME Boston 2017 conference.

Another person who has supported AME through volunteerism is John Rubio, VP west region for Simpler Consulting, an IBM Watson Health Company. Rubio was introduced to AME 19 years ago by a colleague who wanted to connect lean thinkers with others in the field. Initially, Rubio joined the AME Western region board as a practitioner and has continued to volunteer by organizing and leading workshops as he has transitioned to consulting.

Rubio says one thing that keeps him involved as an AME volunteer is the opportunity to learn and grow. “Like anything else, no matter how long you’ve been involved, there’s always something new to learn. Things are always changing. AME provides a learning opportunity that you can’t get in many places, with all the activities and various ways you can interact with other members.”

AME Author and Target Online contributor Becky Morgan attended her first AME event fifteen years ago. The president of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks, Inc., she met the late Ken McGuire, who recognized her passion for manufacturing and encouraged her to get involved at a regional level. In addition to volunteer roles within her region, Morgan spent two years leading the networking (customer satisfaction) team for AME Jacksonville 2014.

As a Target Online writer, Morgan especially enjoys receiving reader feedback – good and bad. “The readers are so passionate,” she said. Morgan notes that she and fellow volunteers (as well as the organization) benefit the most when people, “jump in the deep end, and take on the role with full commitment, executing to the best of their ability.”

Nicki Schmidt began her career as an ER nurse and currently works as a lean coach for Michigan Medicine. After attending a lean workshop, Schmidt was eager to learn how she could remove barriers that prevented her from doing her nursing job more effectively. She got involved with AME and began presenting at AME Canadian regional conferences in 2009 and then joined the AME Chicago 2012 conference team as a co-lead on the value stream team.

Schmidt enjoys networking and noted, “I’ve really enjoyed the friends I’ve made. AME offers great opportunities to volunteer, create friendships and grow professionally. I get so much out of it.”

Did you know that AME has regional affiliates in the United Kingdom as well as in Australia? Gary Kerr enjoys volunteering for AME in Australia because it allows him both to give back and to network with peers. To the readers out there who are thinking of volunteering, Gary commented, “working with AME volunteers will likely be one of the most satisfying experiences that you’ll have. You’ll get to make a difference with a group of people who share your passion, and you’ll also have a lot of fun.

In closing, Sieminski said, “If you’ve volunteered for AME – whether that’s been for one hour, one month, one year, or one decade – from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Every one of you has put so much time and energy into ensuring that our members and event attendees have the best possible experience with AME. Your passion, knowledge and support enables AME to help lean practitioners around the globe share, learn and grow.”

If you’d like to volunteer or are curious about learning more, visit the AME volunteer page or send an email to volunteersupport@ame.org.