Mark Sutton of Eaton Rapids, Mich., is NALPA’s Region 3 vice president and leading candidate for 2017-2018 NALPA president. Sutton has been a member of The American Legion for 11 years and began his Legion career with Post 32 in Livonia, Mich. Although he has not held any leadership positions within his post, he did spend his time volunteering with the department’s legislative team to advance veteran legislation, and six years ago he was hired as the Department of Michigan’s public relations director.
David Wallace: What inspired you to get involved with NALPA and how long have you been a member?
Mark Sutton: I have been a NALPA member for six years and joined shortly after becoming the public relations director. I feel that NALPA is a good organization to help public relations officers in sharing ideas.
Wallace: Does your department have a press association and if so is there anything it does differently than NALPA?
Sutton: The Department of Michigan has the Michigan American Legion Press Association. The group gives away awards, and we meet at each of the department’s conferences, meetings and conventions.
Wallace: What is your favorite article that you have written for The American Legion?
Sutton: A few years ago I wrote about the veteran service grants that Michigan veteran service organizations receive from the state and how the work being done by the officers impacts the state. People and members were not aware that the $3-plus million dollars in grants given results in over $200 million or more each year in money back to the state of Michigan.
Wallace: What you would like to see in your year as the leading candidate for NALPA president?
Sutton: I do not think I am alone when I say I don’t join groups just for a card. It is like people saying that they don’t join the Legion because they don’t drink, they are missing everything else the Legion offers through one of their 22 different programs.
NALPA is more than just a card – we are a group of likeminded individuals who want to know more about advancing the principles and ideals of The American Legion in our communities. The members are mostly volunteers and many do not have a background in public relations. They are not sure on what steps to take to get started. NALPA can show them how.
That direction is where I would like to see NALPA move to. When someone asks what benefits come with a membership in NALPA, I want to be able to say that NALPA has the tools, training and resources to help you do the best job you can.
During the year I would like to see NALPA offer courses of instruction, via video or manuals – from a basic course, intermediate course, to an advanced course. It is a large order to fill, but I think it is time and I believe NALPA is ready to step up. I look forward to the challenge, if elected, and working with our partners in Media and Communications to bring NALPA members priceless benefits.