Interview with Christi Hillman, Associate Director of Membership and VolunteersPosted By PVA Admin on April 6, 2023
What led you to your current role as the Associate Director of Membership and Volunteers? What does it entail?
I began working in PVA’s membership and volunteer department as a temp in 2008, when I first moved to the U.S from Canada. I was hired on permanently in 2009 as the department secretary. Since then, I’ve worked my way up to Associate Director of the department. I truly believe in PVA’s mission and dedication to its members, which has led me to work for PVA for 13 years!
As PVA’s Associate Director of the membership and volunteer program, I am responsible for designing and implementing a membership growth and retention strategy that aligns with PVA’s strategic objectives. I am also responsible for leading the development, implementation and evaluation of membership growth strategies, as well as day-to-day management of member engagement.
Would you mind talking to us a little bit more about what you mean by “membership growth strategies” and different ways you spread the word about PVA to potential members?
“Growth strategies” refers to finding ways to recruit new members. Our Veterans Benefits department has national service officers (NSOs) that have clients and not all of them are members. They often think because they are working with the NSO, they are automatically members of PVA. What we do is we actually reach out to a lot of those clients. We recruit a lot of members that way.
Speaking of our National Service Officers, they provide a lot of services to our members and other Veterans. What are some services that PVA provides to members that they might not know about?
PVA members can get assistance with filing VA benefits claims and other services, free of charge, and again, that is not only for members, but all Veterans can obtain this assistance. We also assist our members with employment and higher education support, as well as sports and recreation opportunities. PVA also has a staff of architects can provide design assistance to members, so they can have a wheelchair accessible home, workplace, and community.
That’s all really fantastic stuff! What are some things that members can look forward to from the membership department in the coming months?
We recently did a survey where we reached out to all of our members. The intent was to obtain email addresses and cell phone numbers so we can better reach out to all of our members. We’re hoping that out of that, we can reach out to them about the latest advocacy initiatives at Paralyzed Veterans of America, related current events, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs updates, updates from the membership department, and more.
On that note, how can PVA members get more involved with PVA and their local chapters?
I would definitely recommend joining PVA’s member Facebook group. We post a lot of good information about upcoming events and opportunities. In addition, I recommend ensuring we have their most current email address on file, so we can make sure they are receiving the monthly member newsletter and any email communication from the membership department, since we’re sharing information that really benefits our members. Members can also contact their local chapter and go to our website, pva.org, to find their chapter’s information. In contacting their chapter, they can connect with fellow members and participate in local events, advocacy initiatives, volunteer opportunities, and recreational activities, and more.
Those are all very important, especially the part with the email addresses. We have so many members that we don’t have our email addresses for. If you’re one of those members, reach out to us. We’d love to keep you updated. But for people who aren’t members yet, how can someone apply for PVA membership if they or a loved one is interested?
PVA membership is open to anyone who is a Veteran and has a spinal cord injury or disease. They can apply for membership online at pva.org/membership. If they want to complete a paper application, they’re more than welcome to download it, fill it out at their convenience and then mail or email it back to us at email@example.com.
If someone is interested in volunteering for PVA, what are some ways they can volunteer and get involved?
Each chapter offers its own volunteer program with a variety of opportunities, such as advocacy, legislation, sports, etc. Interested volunteers should contact their local chapter to sign up.
There’s another avenue for volunteering, which is your local Veterans Administration (VA) hospital. You can volunteer your time in the name of PVA. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs facility nearest you, ask for Voluntary Service, and they will take it from there.
On a more personal note, when you aren’t working, what do you do for fun?
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and my dog, Tuvi! He’s seven months old and keeps us very busy. I enjoy baking, exercising and traveling!