Locked in a Room for a Day: The Board of ASMP NY


On January 10th, a blistering cold Saturday, the board of directors of ASMP New York started the new year by locking themselves in a studio at the Penumbra Foundation with no way to escape.

Once a year for the last four years, the board gathers for a full-day “Board Retreat.” Unlike the typical corporate America retreat, there’s no beach, no log cabins, no golfing, and no special outings to get the ideas flowing. There’s just the board, some cheap food from Whole Foods, and a lot of passion for the ASMP community.

ASMP New York President Frank Rocco said, “the board members of the New York chapter of ASMP have dedicated a full Saturday (or Sunday) to re-visit our priorities, review our mission and goals for the year, and set the direction for the chapter. We lock ourselves in a room, with some bagels and lots of coffee, and have some passionate discussions about ASMP’s core values, belief system, and the important issues that ASMP New York and the entire photo community are facing.”

Board member Kevin Michael Reed expresses, passionately, an opinion on ASMP NY's direction. Steve Mallon, ASMP NY's former president and current board member, listens in. Photo by Ali Talwar.
Kevin Michael Reed expresses, passionately, an opinion on ASMP NY’s direction. Photo by Adi Talwar.

Ideas flowed onto oversized, yellow Post-It pads as facilitator Thomas Werner led the group through several exercises to understand who ASMP NY is, who the board is representing, and how to provide the best programming for the ASMP membership. Board newcomer Presley Ann said, “This year’s board retreat will be noted as a huge changing point for the New York City chapter, with fresh new ideas that will set the standard to lead by.”

It’s not the typical board meeting, because the hierarchy of chapter leadership is flattened; new board members and executive leadership are on a level playing field. Everyone is asked to be honest, to speak their mind, to air their grievances, and to propose their dream projects. New ideas are proposed, traditional methodologies are questioned, and the board plans its path for the new year. The board started at the 30,000 feet level and worked its way down toward the more specific details of event management.

“It is exciting to hear everyone’s ideas and the energy in the room is contagious. I am confident that as a result of this year’s board retreat, ASMPNY will have its best year ever,” said ASMP New York Vice President Michelle Kawka.

“Each year, at the end of the (somewhat long) day, we as a chapter board are rejuvenated, focused, and optimistic about our programming for the year and the direction for the chapter,” said Rocco.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF SHARPEN. Kevin Michael Reed is an award winning fashion & beauty photographer and director based in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles. In 2011, he was named one of 100 Best in Photography by Graphis. He serves on the Board of Directors of ASMP New York and is a Founding Member of the New York Fashion Photography Collective. Currently, he is working on a feature film.

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