For Mary Hightower, being president of Arkansas Press Women underscored the importance of learning the needs of her members.

“Being a leader in APW gave me a greater perspective on what it means to be a member,” said Hightower, who served as president from 2009 to 2012. “As a two-term president, I had to really delve into what professional development opportunities would have the greatest benefit to our members.”

Hightower is Chief Communications Officer for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Her comments touch on two leadership skills – decision-making and developing talent. One of the benefits of being a member of APW is the opportunity to assume a leadership role. A downstream benefit is learning how to be an effective leader.

Several APW board and committee/project chair positions are vacant. Members who are interested in filling these openings need only ask.

Every board member and chairperson has an equal voice in determining APW policy and working for consensus in a group.

“It [being president] also gave me an opportunity to really appreciate what a wealth of skills, smarts and experience our members have and how those strengths can be shared,” Hightower said.

Other benefits of membership include participating in an annual professional communications contest and attending events for professional development and a dialogue of emerging issues.