By Shannon Payne, Virginia

Now that the first few days of the conference have come and gone, a question that has popped up in the minds of many delegates, new and old is, “How do I get to be a PO?”

According to Article XX on page 17 of the Mountain Manual, “At the closing program, recognition will be given to the six delegates and six alternates selected for their outstanding statesmanship by the presiding officer selection committee.”  The qualifications for these 12 delegates are listed in Article XXI.  In addition to these explicit requirements, potential POs must also be graduating seniors who will attend a college or university in the fall.  Every delegate who fits these criteria is considered eligible, regardless of how many years he or she has attended CONA.

In an interview, Conference Director Bob McGaughey provided some insight into the PO selection process.  Delegates essentially serve as a member of the committee. The collective vote of delegates is used as one vote on the committee.  Ultimately, however, the committee chooses the POs. The names of committee members are not announced to avoid delegates making excessive efforts to impress them.  These members observe the delegates’ behavior and conduct throughout the week.  Additionally, while the conference director has no input in the selection process, he does possess veto power.

Bob McGaughey said the committee watches candidates to ensure that they have the “servant leadership mind” for which the YMCA looks.  They must be able to lead and to serve people, as well as preside over and conduct committees.  Many may wonder, “What can I do to help myself get noticed by the presiding officer selection committee?”

 “Don’t try to get noticed,” the conference director will quickly tell you.  His suggestion to eager delegates is to simply do your best over the week.  Your leadership abilities will naturally come forth if you do not worry about standing out.  Best of luck to all of you over the next few days, and remember to remain vigilant – you never know who may be watching!