NARSOL’s directors elect new chair

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By Sandy

Paul Shannon. In some circles that name is as familiar as is one’s own.

I will never forget the first time I met Paul. It was in 2012 at NARSOL’s Albuquerque conference, the first conference I attended. I was still fairly new to NARSOL and was meeting everybody in person for the first time. It was shortly before the opening ceremony, and I was close to the front on the side with a few other board members. Even in the conversational noise of the large group, I heard a collective sound of excitement, and the voices sort of coalesced into, “It’s Paul Shannon!” A small group had just entered and were standing in the aisle right beside me. One of them was a man with his hair pulled back into a ponytail and a blue bandana around his head. Everyone around him was turned toward him. Nodding toward me, someone said to him, “And this is Sandy.” He turned toward me, said my name, and smiled, and I was struck by his eyes. They were some of the kindest I had ever seen and as warm as the huge bear hug he enveloped me in.

As long as I have been on NARSOL’s Board of Directors, Paul has been its presiding officer. He has helped steer us through rough waters and smooth to where we are today. He has presided over our meetings with deliberation and calm. He has listened to conflicts, proposed solutions, reconciled differences. If he had a firmly held belief or opinion on a topic, he stood by it even though he knew it would not prevail in the final vote, and I have never seen a hint of resentment or bitterness from him. Any anger he has ever displayed has been at the injustices heaped upon those on the registry.

He has been a constant, and everything he has ever said or done in regard to NARSOL has been totally, totally, with the good of the organization and the people we serve foremost in his mind.

This year Paul stepped down as the board chair, electing not to run for office for the upcoming term. Paul is not a large man, but he leaves some very big shoes to fill.

When asked for his thoughts on this occasion, Paul said:

I’m happy to announce that Robin Vanderwall will be the new chair of NARSOL’s board of Directors. I stepped down as chair at NARSOL’s November board meeting. Because I was a founder of NARSOL (then called RSOL – remember?) I have served as chair since we transitioned from an administration team to a board of directors. My goal was to provide continuity from NARSOL’s earliest days in 2007, to help keep us on track, and to stay out of the way of the many wonderful efforts that other board members and all our great volunteers have been undertaking. But now it’s time to make a transition for the good of the organization. Most of you know Robin and the many talents he brings to NARSOL. This past month the board elected him to the position of chair. I hope you will all welcome Robin to this new position and support him in carrying out his duties. NARSOL also welcomes Michael Shimkin as the new vice-chair of the organization, and we are very lucky that Brenda will continue as executive director, Larry as treasurer, and Sandy as secretary. I will remain a member of the board and look forward to working with our new and our continuing officers on the important work that lies ahead of us. My best – and a special upcoming holiday season — to you all.

His successor could not have been better chosen. Having served for some years as NARSOL’s vice-chair, Robin Vanderwall was the logical candidate to be elected to the office of chair. But beyond that, Robin is another whose thoughts and actions are focused on the good of NARSOL and how to better serve the people who look to us for help.

Robin is no stranger to leadership roles in NARSOL and related organizations. He is the founder and president of Vivante Espero, NARSOL’s foundation. He is co-founder of our North Carolina chapter, NCRSOL. He is NARSOL’s designated parliamentarian, keeping us on the straight and narrow in our meetings. He has served on many committees and is head of the very important conference operations committee.

We expect Robin’s time as chair to be — not Paul’s, for Robin will make it his own, but like Paul’s — dedicated to the good of NARSOL and to help advance our organization in serving the men and women and families for whom we exist.

Before the first meeting with Robin as chair, he said:

Paul Shannon has been—and continues to be—the guidon bearer for NARSOL’s advocacy. His dedication to the goals we seek is steadfast and unwavering. He has guided NARSOL from its inception with a combination of dogged determination, moral vision, and a standard of humility that is terribly lacking among leaders today. I do not assume the mantel of chair with any thought of replacing Paul’s legacy. But I will give it everything I’ve got on all scores. This movement—NARSOL itself—is never to be defined by any single person’s charisma, charm, or vainglory. And I will work hard to model the type of leadership I have always believed is most capable of the results we seek: emptying out one’s self in the service of others. This is the example Paul has set for us, and this is the path I will continue to walk.

Loyalty; dedication; fervor; devotion; honesty. These are the qualities that Paul brought to his role as NARSOL’s chair, and these same qualities guide Robin as well as he assumes the position on NARSOL’s board.

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13 Thoughts to “NARSOL’s directors elect new chair”

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  1. Susan

    Thank you both for all your service to NARSOL and to the registrants and their loved ones. Being the mother of an individual who is serving time for an internet crime that will require registration, is a lonely, scary, place. NARSOL provides a lifeline to family members like me and the opportunity to meet others who truly can understand the situation. I am so impressed with the work that NARSOL does..professional and educational conferences, advocacy work, an up to date website and newsletters amongst the many contributions. Welcome Robin, I know we’re in good hands!!

    1. Thank you, Susan! Appreciate your support of our efforts.

  2. Bill

    With all the great talent and capabilities in the NARSOL and affiliate ecosystem, the fact that Robin was still the ONLY choice for this position exemplifies just how talented and capable – and dedicated – Robin is.

    Congrats to a fellow Raleigh-ite!

    1. Thank you, Bill! You’re giving me way too much credit. But, I appreciate the sentiment.

  3. Mike Hall

    Thank you Paul for your leadership over the years and your continuing service to NARSOL….and to you Robin, for your continuation of the leadership exemplified in the past. NARSOL is in good hands with a sound Board for years to come.

    1. Thank you, Mike. NARSOL’s ability to continue its work is owed to the generous support of people like you. Thank you. Go Panthers! What in the world?? Cam is back!

  4. A Mistake They Made

    Thanks for your service!

  5. Lois F

    Congratulations Robin! Our family is grateful for all your support over these five years. You are the wearer of many hats!
    Lois F.

    1. Thank you, Lois. It’s been my pleasure to work with you and get to know your family.

  6. Susan Sinclair

    I want to take a moment to not only acknowledge the steadfast and dedicated service of Paul all these years and to thank Robin for his continued devoted service, but also to extend my sincerest appreciation to the entire Board. I admire all the work that is put into NARSOL by each of you – the humble and talented “warriors” that are often behind the scenes working countless hours to make our lives safer and more enriching under some very difficult circumstances. Thank you for all you do each and every day. You lead by example and challenge me to step up and try to do the same.

    1. Thank you for your very kind and supportive words, Susan!

  7. Tim in WI

    NARSOL,
    I offer my most grateful congratulations for selecting Robin V, as the new BOD Chair.
    There is much to be said for the citizen willing to put themselves in harms way for the benefit of a whole nation. Given that greater than 95% of the population when facing court action on felony morality charges, {intelligently} toss their civil rights in to file 13 by signing a standardized waiver, evidences a certain bravery and character of the remaining percentage WHO WOULD NOT! Rosa Parks sure as hell refused as did Norma Grace Constantineau. That so many of the population fail to exercise those rights very much evidences the considerable power of State and the ability of that power to overrun individual self interests for short term gain of decreased liability. Rosa, Norma and Robin and others like them are steadfast and in it for the long haul while the sort term sacrifice be well spent. There was good reason to give a citizen under felony indictment the power of a King and it was meant for times just like these! This is in stark contrast to those whom by their own signed volition would waive and afterward demand formal process from a State, when they know darn well they’d already waived it and then have the ignorance to complain about it to the federal. But that is the character of the 95% of the population and it is exploited to the maximum by those who would profit. As Chair, the main duty will likely be wrangling the agenda of this group. Poignantly, this role puts Robin in a similar position to that of Mr. Roberts. As an interested party, I find this fact to be awe inspiring and I know you are “well suited” to be; That Guy.

    1. Thank you, Tim. I appreciate the sentiment — although I hardly feel that I’ve an ounce of the courage demonstrated by Rosa Parks or Norma Grace.