Jennie L. S. Socha, CAE, 34, works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as executive director of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, a client of Executive Director, Inc. As a 2018 40 Under 40 honoree, Socha discusses her passion for the events industry.
Connect with Socha on Instagram.
What I do: I am responsible for the general oversight and development of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. My responsibilities include supervision of day-to-day operations of the society, implementation of board strategies, actions and policies, program and sponsor development, and providing leadership and mentorship to the society’s 31 employees.
How I got here: After graduating with a Science Education degree, I started working at EDI as an administrative assistant for a healthcare organization, which offered an opportunity to explore my passions for education and the scientific/healthcare community outside of a classroom setting. The first organization I worked for had a small staff, enabling me to gain experience through the years, in a wide variety of areas within association management, including, but not limited to, congress organization, governance, membership, marketing and events (courses and training programs). I was able to establish myself with the client as an association generalist, with strong, trust-based relationships with the society volunteers, so when the executive director role became available, I was offered the opportunity to fill in on an interim basis and eventually accepted the full-time position, which ultimately led to my current job with MDS.
Impressive stats: Under my leadership, the MDS staff has grown by 48 percent from 21 to 31 employees over the last 2.5 years, all while the society continues to realize substantial yearly profits.
Specific improvement I’ve made: I directed the creation of a course director guide, which has enabled the society’s volunteers and staff to efficiently work together for the implementation of up to 35 international education courses per year. The guide provides timelines, as well as outlines the process for course development and approval, fundraising and marketing.
What I am working on now: We are expanding the society into Africa with a formalized structure to support our continental educational efforts. We are also exploring how to provide a more personalized approach to our membership experience, through the implementation of tailored education, both in-person and online, to meet the individual needs of our members.