The 2022 Affiliate Leadership Training Summit and Human Relations Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, with an informative General Session.

With the theme, Moving Our Union Forward, General President Edward Kelly and General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma delivered remarks followed by a question-and-answer session about the current status of critical IAFF issues and the future of the union.

General President Kelly began, “We are here to become better leaders. It’s not easy, but the key to our success is to stay focused on our mission to protect each other. We cannot be afraid to innovate and make changes. And we must never back away from the toughest fights.” Kelly added that successful human relations is a key part of effective leadership. “We are all different, but we cannot let our differences become divisive.”

“The best way to make sure everyone feels heard and included is to treat everyone with respect,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma. “If you care about your members and their concerns, you will do a great job as a leader.”

Reedy Creek Local 2117 President Jonathon Shirey, representing the host local, welcomed attendees, noting his local members know how much the IAFF and its principal officers care about all its members. Even though Local 2117 is a small local, the IAFF has been there for its members when they needed it. President Shirey says he will never forget when General President Kelly told him, “I don’t count how many members you have when deciding it’s time to help.”

After their remarks, the General President and General Secretary-Treasurer invited Human Relations Committee member and Shreveport, LA Local 514 President Barbara Sellers to join them on the stage for a question-and-answer session with members. Questions varied from how to recruit a diverse fire department to the need for safer bunker gear and the status of the national collective bargaining bill.

Rounding out the General Session was U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, who  delivered the keynote address. Moore-Merrell is well known to IAFF members as she served as Assistant to the General President for Technical Assistance and Information Resources at the International for 26 years.

Dr. Moore-Merrell told attendees that change happens often and it happens quickly. To be an effective leader, it is important to adopt the transformational leadership mindset. “That will often mean you need new skills, new rules and new processes for accomplishing your mission,” she said. “While it is important to respond to existing threats, it is just as important to be read for new ones.”

To be an effective leader, she also advised leaders to adopt an even-handed approach so that members know what to expect. And when approaching diversity issues, it is important to remember, “Equity does not mean equality. It means steps need to be taken so that everyone is included and has a fair shake.”

Watch highlights from day one at #ALTSHR22.