Bravotv.com: What leader would you compare yourself to and why?
Carla Stephens: I would have to say the gorgeous and fabulous First Lady Michelle Obama. First Lady Obama is very relatable and this is a valuable trait to have as a leader. I find myself being extremely transparent with those I lead, sometimes to my own detriment. First Lady Obama is inspiring and motivating, which are two characteristics that come naturally to me. As a PTO president my goal is to inspire and motivate other parents to get involved with their student’s school. I work to motivate all parents to learn their rights and to activate them in their school system. Additionally, her sense of fashion is impeccable. I love how she can wear a regal gown to a ball with the elites and then turnaround and wear a trendy ensemble to an award show for kids. Lastly, but not least her impressive community service and advocacy for children and women. I, too, share a love for community service and have advocated for children in my own way for many years now.
Bravotv.com: How do you embody your nickname "Madame President" and what are the keys to PTO president success?
CS: "Madame" is associated with the woman in charge or the head of the house. As the PTO president I am in charge and the head of the organization. Regardless of how others feel when it is all said and done, Madame President has to answer for every good or bad thing produced within that organization. When the world wants answers, they look to Mister President whether they voted for him or not.
Being a PTO President is different for many reasons and every president has to determine what works best for them. However, I truly believe successful PTO presidents must practice Leadership and not Pleaseereship!
Pleaseership is leadership without a backbone! Leading a PTO requires having a backbone. Parents can be very opinionated and passionate about their children and as a leader you must be ready to facilitate passion battles. Everyone wants to impress their student and teacher with their amazing ideas and talents, but someone has to be willing to say yes to this and no to that or you will spend hours in a board room and lose precious time with your own family.
Secondly, to be a successful PTO President you must recruit upward! Being a PTO president is no easy job and no one person can do it alone. No president should have an issue with surrounding themselves with people that are skillful at what they do. I will only warn you that you will need that backbone I mentioned earlier to navigate the egos that can sometimes come with certain skill sets and positions.
Thirdly, to be a successful PTO president you should forge a relationship with all parents to avoid isolation and being cliquish! PTO cliques can take an organization down really fast. Presidents should set the standard that all parents are welcomed at the beginning of the term and facilitate the same actions when planning events.
Bravotv.com: What would you say to those who say you are too intense about the PTO?
CS: If my mother were alive today, I am pretty sure she would tell you that I was an intense toddler. I truly love my passionate and voracious personality. I know who I am, I own who I am and it has taken every one of these 45 years to do the work required to be the best possible version of myself. I have accepted the fact that my intensity is not for everyone and sometimes it is okay to just go with the flow.
If there is anything to be intense or passionate about, it is helping our teachers and students. Teachers are spending money out of their limited salaries to purchase supplies, snacks, training material to help them teach children and so many other items. I expect my son’s teachers to be intense about educating them, so why not be intense about raising money to help with classroom supplies, educational trips and any other assistance an educator or student may need.
Bravotv.com: What has been your craziest moment as PTO president?
CS: Unfortunately, Robin is the recipient of my craziest moment as a PTO president. I have never in my history of being a PTO president had anyone neither disrespect me in this manner nor come at me with such intensity. At the most I was accused of sending out too many emails and text messages as if I were a PTO stalker, but in comparison that was little crazy and cannot compete with big crazy.
I absolutely dislike when another woman asks you to speak woman to woman, but not respect your voice when you actually speak then proceeds to degrade you because she is having a hard time articulating what her true issues are.
I cannot say that I was surprised at Robin’s response; this is how the conversation goes when she does not get her way. Unfortunately, Robin took this opportunity to continue her campaign of unsubstantiated outburst and name calling.