People Make it Possible: Sandy Munley

Features - Leadership Winners

Sandy Munley puts others first and surrounds herself with great people to achieve success.

November 19, 2009
Angela Dyer

Concern and caring for others is a big part of what makes Sandy Munley an effective leader. Munley has been in the industry for 17 years as executive director of the Ohio Landscape Association based in Broadview Heights, Ohio, and she explains that the people in the industry have kept her right where she is.

“I am blessed because I love what I do, who I do it for and who I do it with,” she says. “That makes it fun and possible to get a lot accomplished.”

She has definitely been getting a lot accomplished during her tenure at the OLA. Aside from her duties as CEO of the association, Munley spends a great deal of time working on the H-2B issue and lobbying for the cap extension for the program.

“A great portion of our members have used the program in the past as well as years ago when we first became aware of the program. We promoted it to our members when our members needed a legal work force,” Munley explains. “When the well dried up because there were so many contractors (using it), we felt that we needed to fight for our members.”

Munley continuously works hard for the association members and even future members, as she is involved with high school and college programs that will feed the green industry. She serves on the advisory committee for Cuyahoga Community College’s horticulture program in Cleveland and the Ohio State University ATI advisory board in Wooster, Ohio.

“I like to stay involved because our future is our youth. We need to attract people to this industry because it is such a wonderful one to have a career in,” Munley says. “It’s a good use of my time.”

The time she puts into these causes as well as other green industry issues does not go unnoticed.

Greg Malone, president of the OLA, says Munley’s contributions to the industry association keep it running smoothly.

“We have a board of directors, and I’m the president of the association, but what makes it tick is Sandy,” he says. “She organizes everything in a way that makes things easy.”

This dedication has earned her a past PLANET Association Executive of the Year Award and an Association Partner of the Year Award.

Malone, who is also the director of business processes and logistics at Kurtz Bros. in Independence, Ohio, says Munley’s passion extends to everything that affects the association and its members.

“Because of the economic times, we have struggled with member renewals and sponsorships and attendance with events. She has been particularly good at coming up with creative ideas to help us through the challenging times and offering suggestions,” he says.

To accomplish all that she has, Munley credits her family support system and adds that she has “the most wonderful parents.”

When she traveled for the association as a single mom, her parents were always there to help care for her daughter when she was away building her career. It was also her parents who, in some ways, led her to a career in the green industry. As Munley says, “it’s in my blood.” Her mother has always been an avid gardener, while her father managed a home and garden store.

Munley started out managing a printing company and working on accounts for different landscape contractors. One of those contractors went on to become the president of OLA. After leaving the printer when her daughter was born, she was asked to become the executive director of the association. She originally said no, but when asked again later she knew that opportunities do not normally knock twice.

She took it and never looked back.

During these past 17 years, Munley has learned that the best leaders follow their hearts and always remember that people come first.