By Key Club International Trustee Maya Tolentino 

Over the past four years, I have had the amazing opportunity and privilege to hold officer positions on the club, division and district levels — and now at the international level. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world. They have shaped me into the person and leader I am today.  

I encourage you to run for higher office within Key Club International. Because yes — you can do it!  

Club office 

Arguably, club leaders are the most important officers in all of Key Club International. They are the voices of their clubs and are most directly responsible for making service happen in their communities. If you’re considering running for a position at the club level, here are some tips: 

  • Be present. Participation in your club’s community events, meetings and service projects is key to understanding how your club runs. You will gain knowledge about your club’s strengths and weaknesses and its relationship with your community, and you will make your presence and dedication known to your fellow club members. Your presence will help club members see you as a true leader. 
  • Listen to members’ voices. When you are at meetings or volunteering, take the time to listen to your peers and understand what they love about your club — but also what they believe needs to be improved. By broadening your perspective, you gain a more diverse understanding of your club’s needs and will be better able to address them in your term. 

District office 

Serving as a leader on the district level — lieutenant governors, committee chairs, executive board members and especially our amazing district governors — gives many Key Club members their first opportunity to understand the size and impact of Key Club International. It pushes them to grow as leaders and meet people from outside their own community. If you’re interested in running for a position at the district level:  

  • Know your district. Ensure that you’re familiar with the unique niches of your district. These include its needs, its strengths and how it ensures its individuality while fitting within the larger picture of Key Club International. Truly understanding your district will help you craft a unique campaign with realistic goals that you can achieve in your term. 
  • Use your resources. There are many opportunities to learn what goes on behind the scenes of district-level positions. The best way is to ask the person currently holding that position. Your district’s leaders are often very willing to answer questions and offer advice. If your district offers any higher office webinars or has office hours for different positions, utilize those amazing resources.  

International office 

At the bottom of the inverted-pyramid structure of Key Club International, we have the international board. Composed of Key Club International’s president, vice president and 11 trustees, this small group has the privilege to serve all members within Key Club International. It might seem overwhelming to run for — and serve at — the international level, but it’s endlessly rewarding. Here are some tips from my own experience: 

  • Genuinely be yourself. With so many districts from all over the world present at the Key Club International convention, the members who will vote likely have no idea who you are before arriving. Thus, it is important to interact and get to know them. Don’t let being a candidate stop you from being yourself in your conversations. Members are looking for candidates who they can confidently trust and see themselves in. Don’t lose who you are in the process of maintaining a public persona. 
  • Broaden your perspective. One of the things that I found difficult when running at the international level was stepping out of the mindset of my local community and home district. My experiences are unique to where I come from and do not necessarily apply to the needs and strengths of all of the other districts. Remember to take into consideration how your goals and ideas will be implemented throughout all of Key Club International when crafting your campaign. 

Tips for every level 

No matter what level of Key Club International you are seeking a position for, remember: 

  • Practice, practice, practice! Make sure you know all the requirements of being a candidate. If you need to give a speech, write one well in advance, know it so well that you barely need to look at notecards and fit it within the required timeframe. If you need to answer questions on the spot, know your goals and campaign like the back of your hand and have your friends and family ask you tough practice questions so that you’ll be prepared for anything. 
  • Have fun! This is the best and most important piece of advice that I have for you. Personally, I don’t believe that you’re doing it right if you are so focused on your campaign that you can’t have fun. Remember your “whys,” and don’t get so lost in your campaign that you forget to experience it all. No matter the outcome, running for higher office is an experience like no other. Treasure it. 

If you want any further advice, reach out to those of us on the Key Club International Board. I wish you the best in your future campaign!