The exact organizational structure, definition of roles, and responsibility of Chapter Officers will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the Chapter and the scope of its mission, any relevant school or campus policies, and individual Chapter preferences and individual skills.
Maintaining a set of elected students to serve as Chapter Officers is essential to Chapter success. Many Chapters are well established, but continual growth and development of officer roles is crucial in managing a chapter. This section provides a reminder of suggested chapter officer positions and outlines the prescribed duties of each. These are recommendations, however, and officer positions should be created to fit the needs of the school and the chapter.
Which leadership roles should my SVA Chapter establish?
At minimum, the Chapter must have a President, but the institution may require additional leadership roles. Leadership responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following areas:
- Ensuring that the Chapter is properly reporting membership and Chapter information to National Headquarters.
- Coordinate membership recruitment, Chapter Officer installation/transition, and Chapter meetings.
- Be familiar with the Chapter’s constitution and/or bylaws, membership requirements and Chapter reporting procedures.
- Planning Chapter events and promoting SVA on campus.
- Encouraging the Chapter’s attendance at university functions.
- Communicating effectively with the active membership, the university, community partners, and National Headquarters.
- Setting and evaluating Chapter goals annually.
Suggested Chapter Leadership Structure
The exact organizational structure, definition of roles, and responsibility of Chapter Officers will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the Chapter and the scope of its mission, any relevant school or campus policies, and individual Chapter preferences and individual skills. The suggested leadership positions are designed to mirror the executive leadership roles at National Headquarters for ease of guidance and assistance. Position descriptions for the suggested positions are described in the Chapter Leaders section below, and success themes for each of these positions are available to download.
The President is the most senior leader in a Chapter and holds overall accountability for all aspects of the organization’s operations, finances, development, recruitment, and engagement with National Headquarters and external parties. The President is the primary student contact for the student organization and the “external spokesperson” of the group who regularly interacts with other student organizations and University officials. They are the liaison between the student organization and the advisor and other University or community contacts. The duties for this position should be tailored as the student organization deems necessary. The responsibilities of the president include, but are not limited to:
- Overall accountability and ownership of the creation of the Chapter strategic plan and the success of the Chapter.
- Direct overall Chapter operations in accordance with governing documents, delegate appropriate responsibilities to Chapter Leaders as needed, and oversee the execution of the strategic plan.
- Represent and promote the Chapter at events on campus and in the community.
- Serve as the primary point of contact between the Chapter and National Headquarters, school administration, student government, other student organizations, and community entities.
- Conduct general body and leadership meetings.
Vice President of Programs and Member Development
The Vice President of Programs and Member Development is responsible for all facets of Chapter programming and ensuring all Chapter Members have a clear path toward Chapter Leader and/or liaison positions, if desired. This person manages the “so what” of the organization, and so is often considered the “second in command.” They should create events and services in alignment with the Chapter mission and that appeal to Chapter Members. This may require polling or a survey at the beginning of every term or year in order to understand fully the wants and needs of the Chapter. The Vice President of Programs and Member Development will work closely and collaborate fully with each of the other Chapter Officers in order to do their job. The responsibilities of this role include, but are not limited to:
- Use the strategic plan to set goals for programming and member development goals.
- Build and execute the programming calendar in coordination with other important calendars (i.e., university’s calendar, community calendar, holidays, etc.).
- Work with the Vice President of Communications and Marketing to ensure each event on the calendar is adequately publicized.
- Delegate event preparation responsibilities to Chapter Members based on individual skillsets.
- Track and report attendance outcomes for all events and lead the after-action review to discuss ways to improve the event.
- Track and report on the impacts from programming (i.e., graduation rates, engagement, Chapter status).
- Assess the skill level of Chapter Members and advise them on ways they can support the Chapter and assume leadership positions in the Chapter.
- Advise and encourage Chapter Members on professional development opportunities such as the LinkedIn Professional Development Community, the SVA Regional Summits, and the SVA Leadership Institute.
- Serve as the official second-in-charge of the Chapter in the event the President is unable to fulfill their responsibilities.
Vice President of Finance
The Vice President of Finance is responsible for managing all incoming and outgoing Chapter funds. They should be fiscally minded, detail-oriented, and very responsible. This person will hold the financial keys to the Chapter. Oftentimes, universities will require specific training for the student responsible for the finances of a student organization. Chapter Presidents and those intended to take on this role should check with the University for guidelines on banking, training, and other requirements. The Vice President of Finance will also work closely with the other vice presidents to provide and receive funding for all operations of the Chapter. The responsibilities of this role include, but are not limited to:
- Use the strategic plan to set an operations budget, and guide financial planning and decision making.
- Establish, improve, and/or maintain best practices for sound financial management.
- Manage the Chapter budget and prepare detailed financial reports for the Chapter president, Chapter Advisor and the college or university, if required.
- Identify the most affordable vendors and seek additional ways to save money for the Chapter.
- Create and/or mange a record keeping system for the filing of receipts, bills, invoices, and financial reports.
- Work closely with the Vice President of Fundraising to identify potential funding sources including institutional funding, grant funding, and private donors.
- Ensure the Chapter complies with all financial regulations set by the college or university.
Vice President of Recruitment and Member Engagement
The Vice President of Recruitment and Engagement is responsible for recruiting Chapter Members and encouraging their engagement in all Chapter events, meetings, community outreach, and other Chapter initiatives. They are essential to the survival of a Chapter. With their primary responsibilities focused on coordinating the recruitment efforts of the chapter, they can have a significant impact on an organization’s future. The responsibilities of the role include, but are not limited to:
- Use the strategic plan to set recruitment and attendance goals to guide engagement objectives and strategies.
- Work with the Vice President of Programs and Member Development to develop programming that encourages an active and engaged membership, and that are aimed attracting, selecting, identifying, and recruiting new members.
- Work with the Vice President of Communications and Marketing to represent and promote the Chapter and recruit new members.
- Work with the leadership team in creating, developing, and reviewing membership guidelines and requirements.
- Maintain relationships with the office of admissions, Dean of Students, the School Certifying Official (SCO) to welcome incoming student veterans and military-connected students.
Vice President of Fundraising
The Vice President of Fundraising is responsible for establishing and cultivating relationships with potential donors, raising funds for the Chapter, and assisting the Vice President of Finance in accounting for donations and income. This person should be familiar with the school’s rules and regulations on fundraising and explore innovative methods with which to solicit and process donations, in accordance with university policy. The responsibilities of this role include, but are not limited to:
- Use the strategic plan to set a fundraising goal.
- Establish, improve, and/or maintain best practices for relationship building with donors and potential donors.
- Identify potential funding sources including institutional funding, grant funding, and private donors.
- Ensure the Chapter complies with all donation regulations set by the college or university.
Vice President of Communications and Marketing
The Vice President of Communications and Marketing is responsible for all internal and external communications of the Chapter as well as promoting Chapter events to student veterans, their families, allies, and the greater campus community. The responsibilities of this role include, but are not limited to:
- Use the strategic plan to create a communications and social media strategy.
- Maintain communication with National Headquarters and ensure Chapter information is updated every semester.
- Manage and update all social media accounts and the Chapter website (as applicable).
- Take pictures during events and collect pictures taken by Chapter Members.
- Maintain an accurate distribution/contact list of all Chapter Members, family members, allies, partners, vendors, and all other important parties.
- Maintain meeting minutes and distribute to Chapter Leaders and/or members.
- Manage all outwardly facing communications including event promotion and press releases.
- Create a newsletter or publication that highlights Chapter events, accomplishments, and milestones to circulate around campus and throughout the SVA network.
SVA Campus Liaison Program
The CLP ensures that veterans are included in relevant spaces and conversations around campus. The ideal operations for these liaisons include position-specific curriculum and training from SVA National Headquarters, collaboration with campus personnel within each respective department, and strategic planning for outreach to and the provision of services for student veterans. Liaisons can shift cultural norms in the student veteran community and on campus in order to cultivate cultural awareness in both spaces. They can also serve as trusted leaders and role models, who share information across groups. The liaison positions include the Policy Liaison, the Career Services Liaison, the Disability Services Liaison.
The Policy Liaisons are a community of self-identified students that are interested in developing policy or advocacy skills. The overarching goal of this liaison role is to equip student veterans with the tools and skills necessary to self-advocate, whether it be at the campus, local, state, or federal level. Currently, the network of Policy Liaisons meets monthly for a conference call that includes SVA National Headquarters and facilitates an open floor discussion of students’ individual goals and progress, with an emphasis on fostering a positive and constructive atmosphere. Policy Liaisons are broadly diverse and located across the entire country. The responsibilities of this role include, but are not limited to:
- Join the Policy Liaison Program (PLP) and participate in regularly scheduled calls with the Government Affairs team and fellow Policy Liaisons.
- Identify policy issues negatively or positively affecting student veterans on campus.
- Meet with university leadership and elected officials to share policy needs of the Chapter, campus, and community.
- Leverage your National Headquarters Government Affairs department for assistance with advocacy for student veterans on campus.
- Leverage your National Headquarters Research department to gather data that can assist with a policy initiative.
- Assist with representing and promoting the Chapter on campus and in the community.
Career Services Liaison
The Career Services Liaisons (CSLs) are chapter leaders who take responsibility for engaging student veterans in the career-focused aspects of their education, including employment and internships during college as well as career opportunities near graduation. They accomplish this by connecting to their campus career services office in order to better translate the knowledge and skills that are acquired during military experiences, as well as improve the knowledge about how military-acquired skills might apply to employment post-graduation. The CSL conducts outreach to and on behalf of career services offices on campuses, which may otherwise lack connections to student veterans, particularly as most student veterans are nontraditional students and may have different needs for career and internship services than their traditional student peers. The CSL also acts as a bridge to student veterans on behalf of SVA National Headquarters and its connected network of business and industry partners. This crucial connection shares networking, career preparedness, and mentorship opportunities. The responsibilities of this role include, but are not limited to:
- Work closely with the Vice President of Programs and Member Development on all career and professional development events and programs.
- Use the Chapter strategic plan to identify potential programs, resources, and opportunities related to career readiness and professional development.
- Develop and maintain a functional relationship with college/university Career Services Office and National Headquarters.
- Raise awareness of Career Services and related resources and services that are available to student veterans and encourage student veterans to use respective resources and services.
- Plan, coordinate, and execute all Chapter programming and events related to career readiness and professional development in partnership with the Vice President of Programs and Member Development.
- Track and report attendance and/or performance outcomes and engagement for student veterans utilizing the Career Services Office.
- Maintain success stories in career placement after graduation to help tell the important story of your Chapter.
- Assess and build cultural competency training related to job seeker interests and skillsets of student veterans through their transition from the military, through education, and into the workforce.
- Expose Chapter Members to professional development and career opportunities available through Career Services Office, National Headquarters, and their partners, and with companies and organizations that are committed to hiring and developing student veteran talent.
Disability Services Liaison
The Disability Services Liaison connects student veterans with services on campus for students with disabilities. Almost 60 percent of student veterans identified as having a service-connected disability, but that utilization of campus resources, such as disability services offices, was near zero even though 80 percent of these students experience academic stress because of their disability. While traditional students with chronic disabilities have become accustomed to seeking interventions and accommodations to lessen the impact of their disability on the higher education experience, those with newer disabilities, including student veterans with service-connected disabilities, are unaware of the benefits of requesting accommodations, if they are aware that disability services exist on campus. Beyond that, there exists a stigma with the admission of having a disability within the student veteran population. Disability Services Liaisons connect student veterans with accommodations for physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities that are service-connected or that manifested after service. These accommodations lower barriers to academic success and enhanced the college experience for these student veterans. Further these liaisons use peer leadership to normalize the help-seeking behavior that is commonly unfamiliar to veterans. The responsibilities of the Disability Services Liaison include, but are not limited to:
- Maintain regular contact with all disability services administrators on campus and familiarize yourself with the various services that exist on campus.
- Create and maintain a list of all disability services and personnel on campus and disseminate to all student veterans on campus with a service-connected disability.
- Promote help-seeking behavior among student veterans with disabilities and encourage them to utilize services when needed.
- Work with the Dean of Students to increase awareness of disability services during transfer student orientation.
- Advocate for the hiring of a school psychologist with a background in treating PTSD and military service-connected disabilities if your school does not have one.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison
The Diversity and Inclusion Liaison stems from conversation trends with chapters over the past three years, where many chapter leaders ask (1) how they can make their chapters more inclusive and (2) how they can be a part of the diversity and inclusion conversations on campus, as a representative of an underrepresented population on campus. More recently, following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, many chapter leaders turned to SVA National Headquarters seeking advice. They were unsure of their role in the national conversation or of their role on campus and with their membership. Diversity and inclusion have always been on the forefront of SVA’s mission. Student veterans represent an incredibly diverse population in both demographics and experience, but also are a singularly diverse population within the student body due to unique experiences and perspectives. As such, student veteran participation in discussing and shaping diversity and inclusion on campuses across the country requires student veteran representation. The Diversity and Inclusion Liaison would represent veterans in campus discussions on diversity and inclusion, presenting salient, well-research data from SVA National Headquarters to help inform a campus culture inclusive to veterans. Additionally, they would work with the other chapter leaders on campus to ensure that the chapter meets with and exemplifies the ideals of inclusion within and across student organizations. The responsibilities of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison include, but are not limited to:
- Acts as the official representative on DEI to the university and other student organizations on behalf of student veterans,
- Develops, directs, and implements programs and activities to improve relationships with other underrepresented student organizations.
- Meets with community groups and leaders regarding community relations.
- Advises, and assists Chapter in a variety of DEI matters
- Coordinates and participates in the activities of various committees and boards; provides professional advice and direction Chapter President and other officers.
- Establishes, collects, and analyzes data to measure DEI progress and success of the Chapter.
- Functions as liaison to established DEI committees.