I knew Department of Colorado Commander Terri Clinton desired changes on how we shape the public’s image of The American Legion. So before attending my first National Convention last August in Reno, Nev., I joined the National American Legion Press Association (NALPA) to assist me in my new position as Public Relations Committee chairman for the department. While at convention, I attended the NALPA meeting.
During the meeting, I learned that several departments had their own American Legion Press Associations. The idea of a press association prompted me to stand up and introduce myself. The enthusiasm and passion that NALPA members had for what they do was contagious, and it drew me in. NALPA President Mark Sutton assured me that if there was anything I needed, I was to call him.
After returning to Colorado, Department Adjutant Pat Smith and I held a meeting at Lakewood Post 178 with department chairmen from the marketing, social media, photography and community service committees. Also in attendance was Commander Clinton and Post 178 Commander Dave Clinger. I wasn’t sure how or where this meeting would go, but after nearly two hours our direction was obvious and the Colorado American Legion Press Association (COALPA) started to take shape.
In the months that followed, we created the COALPA bylaws, logo, membership application form, press card, lapel pin, and even an annual American Legion dues assessment that includes membership into NALPA.
Commander Clinton encouraged us to have COALPA ready for mid-year conference in January. On Jan. 25, in Arvada, Colo., COALPA made its debut. Legion Family members gathered, including Mark Sutton. The excitement in the room was building. People were chatting about NALPA and COALPA, and I could feel the energy radiating in the room.
I had everyone introduce themselves while Mark shared that it is on us to help improve the image of The American Legion. And it’s up to COALPA to help educate posts and districts on how they can utilize their media resources more effectively.
We voted in our officers and Executive Committee members and in the end, 28 members signed up. Each new member received a welcome packet that included a copy of COALPA’s bylaws, a press pass with a protective sleeve and lanyard, a lapel pin and listings of television, radio, newspaper and media press outlets in Colorado.
COALPA is here to help improve the image of The American Legion.