By Susan Wroble, August 2021
I love the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I’ve been a member for a very long time (since 2004), but for most of the first decade and a half, I would attend the regional conferences, and write and file. It was only after our kids were grown that I was able to focus on writing more seriously.
It has been a very rough year for SCBWI. What had started as a labor of love had grown over a half-century into a large international professional society, and the structure had not always kept up with best practices. For various reasons, all of the regional team members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter resigned en masse this summer. I felt sure of only one thing—I wanted to make sure our chapter survives this crisis.
In normal times, I doubt if I would have ever applied to be a regional team member, but among my skill set were pieces that I thought would help. Most importantly, I am pretty good at keeping organizations going. As one example, I’ve run a long-standing support group for parents of twice-exceptional children. These kids are both highly gifted and have numerous learning issues. Most are on the autism spectrum; many have health issues and nearly all struggle with anxiety and depression. As a result, my role is often listening, and helping people find resources when they are at extremely difficult times in their lives. Similar groups tend to have social workers or psychologists as their moderator. That’s not me (I majored in engineering!). Yet somehow, I’ve managed to keep this group afloat for so long that some of our “kids” are now post-college.
I’d also organized large events, including multi-day regional speech meets with hundreds of competitors and judges. And I’d had experience volunteering in various capacities with SCBWI. Since 2018, I’ve co-led, with author Judy Rose, the Denver South Connect. After consulting with the outgoing team, I decided it was time to step up.
With the amazing writer, illustrator, caricature artist and graphic novelist Stan Yan, I’m honored to say I’ve been selected as one of the new Co-Regional Advisors for SCBWI’s Rocky Mountain Chapter. The outgoing regional team has been incredibly generous both with their time and in helping us understand the workings of the chapter. Unfortunately, anytime an entire team leaves, institutional knowledge will be lost. While I had loved our programming and had hoped to keep things going as they were, due to the timing of the resignations, the fall conference had to be put on hold. Some of our other programs are also on hold while we find new volunteers.
Thus far, it’s been a steep learning curve. I know that the year might live up to the chapter name—it will likely be Rocky. I’m committed to embracing that rockiness. I have gotten so very much from this chapter, and I want to keep it supporting others as it has helped me.