PMI Fellow Frank Saladis, PMP®, of Staten Island, NY, has lived in a swirl of project management, both in the workplace and on the active playing field of life. While one might think that his project management activism leaves little time for anything else, Frank reserves quality time for his wife of 47 years, his four daughters, grandchildren, and numerous civic projects. And there’s one other thing Frank never ever overlooks – making a generous annual donation to PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF). Frank’s donorship doesn’t stop with money; he also devotes time and expertise to the Foundation’s youth outreach in hopes of spreading the word about project management and PMIEF itself.
A member of the PMI New York City Chapter, Frank was president of the chapter for more than a decade. However his formal introduction to project management, and his initial membership to PMI, was at the “do it, or else…” insistence of his manager at AT&T where he worked as a business communication systems manager for more than 28 years. In 1989 he was transferred to AT&T’s project management arm, under Dan Ono. “Dan was very involved with PMI,” recalls Frank. “He insisted that all of his project managers obtain their PMP® certification and join PMI as a condition of employment in his division. We had about 30 project managers at that time. Dan wanted us to be viewed as ‘professional’ project managers within the organization and to display a certain set of skills that would be considered extremely valuable within the business.”
Now an independent consultant in the training business, Frank does a fair amount of travel and speaks at many PMI chapters, as well as doing a lot of workshops, keynote presentations, and PMI seminars.
His keen interest in PMIEF began shortly after he assumed the presidency of the PMI New York City Chapter in 1991, a mere year after joining. “Back then the chapter was relatively small, with no activities or anything like that,” says Frank, noting that when he became president there were just 45 active members, and by the time he left that position a decade later, membership had grown to more than 2,000. Today there are about 3,000 members.
“I attended a lot of PMI Leadership Institute Meetings and also spoke at every PMI World Congress from 1993 until about 2010. It was at the World Congress in the late 1990s when I actually encountered the Educational Foundation for the first time. PMI founder Jim Snyder was a very active proponent of PMIEF. He left his booth, came up to me, pinned a button on me, and asked me for a donation. Then and he said, ‘You ought to get involved.’ And that’s exactly what I did. I was impressed by how passionate Jim was about the organization and how much he wanted to move it forward. I realized I wanted to be part of that effort. Eventually I became a member of the leadership group, and I have given to PMIEF every year since.”
In 2015, when Frank was again PMI chapter president, he was instrumental in working with PMIEF to send a volunteer team to a high school in Brooklyn to conduct workshops with the students. “The students then developed projects internally in their school,” says Frank, noting projects ran the gamut from fundraisers to career days. “Then they presented their projects at a PMI chapter meeting. They explained what they learned through the Foundation, how the training was useful for them in building their own plans, and how successful their plans were because of the information provided through PMIEF resources.”
Frank has also personally met with high school students to introduce them to the power of project management and to familiarize them with PMIEF. “I want them to be aware of the Foundation’s goal of getting kids and young adults involved in project management early in their education and show them that it can help them prepare not only for college but for their future careers,” he says. “I want them to understand that there are a number of PM skills that are very portable, especially interpersonal skills – such as conflict management, communications, and relationship building along with planning and organizing skills.”
Frank also has sent information to the New York City Board of Education about PMIEF, and has been in touch with several schools on Staten Island about the value of information PMIEF provides and how that information is accessible to teachers.
“I promote PMIEF whenever I can,” says Frank, “because it gives an opportunity to youth to obtain skills they can take with them anywhere. It's my belief that if we can get young adults to really learn about and develop these skills as early as possible they will become much stronger leaders in whatever field they enter, and make a difference in their communities.” In fact, Frank says that “difference” can be stretched to include national and global initiatives such as ecology and environment projects. “There are really no limits.”
Asked to pinpoint why other PMs should follow his lead and donate to PMIEF, Frank admits that it is not only for the purpose of empowering youth. “When you see the outcome of PMIEF in terms of education, and see children and young adults getting involved and succeeding in projects, it fills you with pride; it motivates you to want to do more. So I think there’s a lot to be said of the personal satisfaction you get when you’ve donated to something that makes a difference in the lives of a lot of people, especially young people. You can really feel good that you have helped to leave the world a better place.”