Her heart racing, eleventh-grader Joey Chen broke down crying in tears of joy as the 2020-2021 Key Club Florida District Governor election results were read aloud via Zoom- Chen was officially responsible for over 400 clubs and more than 22,000 members, now holding the highest Key Club title in the state.
Traditionally, elections for district roles are held on the second day of DCON, the District Education and Leadership Conference, and two delegates from every present club will attend the House of Delegates meeting for caucusing and then officially cast their votes on behalf of their club. However, due to COVID-19, DCON 2020 was cancelled, so instead of the House of Delegates meeting, a virtual election consisting of the 2019-2020 District Board of Trustees and the 2020-2021 incoming Lieutenant Governors (LTGs) was held.
“There was an initial excitement (to winning), but an hour or two after, it didn’t seem real because there was no Governor’s Ball or official induction like we always have at DCON,” Chen said.
Chen joined Key Club when she was a freshman simply to gain service hours, but after getting her first leadership position as the head of the Candy Cane committee, she became motivated to become more involved with the organization.
“It was in Key Club that I realized that I had the potential to become a leader… the service projects we did every week really made me want to make more of an impact on my community.” she said.
As a sophomore, Chen served as the club treasurer, and as a junior served as Division 18 LTG.
“My term as LTG was what made me want to run for Governor,” Chen said. “I grew so much as a leader and gained so much confidence that I wanted to expand my impact to a district level. It also helps me relate and connect to the current LTGs on the board.”
Chen’s passion for service and leadership has rubbed off on other Pine View students, as well.
“This past year, I had the privilege of watching Joey serve as the Lieutenant Governor of Division 18,” eleventh-grader and incoming Division 18 LTG Meera Nair said. “Her constant dedication and passion for Key Club through her leadership inspired me to run for Lieutenant Governor.”
During February 2020, Chen announced her candidacy for District Governor- every weekend she attended different Spring Zone Rallies (SZRs) throughout Florida, touting her platform and message.
“The coolest thing about it was that I really got the chance to explore all of Florida and get to know all the different types of Key Clubbers in our district,” she said.
Each District Governor is responsible for creating a “Governor’s Project,” an overarching theme and initiative for clubs in the district to place emphasis on throughout the year. Chen’s initiative is “Keys for Kids,” which aims to empower youth and give children, especially in marginalized communities, the opportunity to pursue leadership.
“My Governor’s Project is important to me because, for me, in middle school before Key Club I had no intentions of becoming a leader… but through this organization I have changed so much as a person, and I want to take that and spread it to others,” Chen said.