Post Best Practices: Building Young Member Engagement in Houston

The SAME Houston-Galveston Post has made a significant commitment to supporting the personal and professional growth of its Young Members. Omar Oweis, founder of the Post’s Young Member Initiative, shares insights on how the program came together, what impact it is having on supporting young professionals in the greater Houston area, and how it is something other SAME Posts can emulate in their communities.

What is the Houston-Galveston Post’s Young Member Initiative and how did it come about?

Oweis: There are actually two initiatives now we are working on: the Young Member Initiative and the Young Member Initiative City Wide Program. The Young Member Initiative is a program to help boost our Post’s Young Member presence. We started this two years ago and it is in full swing now. Post member Patrick Korn is currently leading this effort.

The Post had struggled over the years to recruit Young Members and retain them, so a strategy was created to generate growth and provide stability for our Young Member roster. The program’s vision is to develop the next leaders of SAME both regionally and nationally by focusing on inclusion, growth, development and recognition. The purpose of this initiative is to make a push for recruiting young professionals to take active roles within the
organization and for them to have a greater impact on their local communities and society as a whole.

Houston-Galveston Post Best Practices Young Member Initiative

The Young Member Initiative City Wide is a new program we started in an effort to get 12 professional societies to join an alliance. Every month, one organization is responsible for putting together an event. Each of the other groups is responsible to advertise the event to their respective membership base. This approach promotes cross-pollination between professional societies along with boosting recruitment efforts for SAME.

What type of impact are the joint events having?

Oweis: We get professionals of all ages attending the events. We have received great feedback so far. Every event we put together gets anywhere between 50 and 80 attendees every month.

What are the benefits both to members and to professionals from the other associations?

Oweis: A big issue in the past involved professionals only getting to network with people in their own organization. This sparked the idea of creating a way for members to be able to network, on a regular basis, with professionals in other societies. Not only does this help our members meet new people, but it also promotes the SAME name through other associations. This has boosted membership and helped develop our future leaders as well—the more that young professionals are exposed to, the better that helps with their development.

How does the initiative help to get Young Member more engaged in the Post overall?

Oweis: Our Young Members along with those of other organizations see how SAME is organizing and leading the City Wide effort. This helps attract new people to join SAME who want to take a leadership role and be part of a successful organization. It also is in line with SAME’s vision to be “recognized as the multi-disciplined integrator of military, public, private, and academic national infrastructure-related capabilities.”

Every situation is different, but the general gist of the Houston-Galveston Post’s Young Member programs is adoptable anywhere.

[Interview first published in the January-February 2018 issue of The Military Engineer.]