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Twenty years ago, I found myself in quite a pickle. I'd been named chief staff executive of Michigan PTA shortly after the previous executive had decided to move the location of our annual conference but hadn't secured a new venue. The meeting was just a few months away, and I really didn't have a clue about associations or hotel contracts, or much of anything really. A supplier stopped by to introduce himself and offered to take me to lunch. I accepted - mainly because I was feeling overwhelmed and just needed someone to talk to. I'm quite sure he got an earful from me that day. Not only did he lend a much-needed listening ear, but he also gave me one piece of advice: call MSAE.
MSAE connected me to a community of association professionals and suppliers who have collectively given me support, advice, knowledge, proven practices, innovative ideas, the occasional reality check, inspiration, friendship, and so much more for two decades. Even when the association itself fell short of my expectations, the community never failed to deliver. The value I gained from this community is incalculable.
My history with MSAE is the context for joining the organization as President & CEO, and most certainly fuels my passion for working with you and the Board of Directors to create the MSAE of the Future. What value will the MSAE of the Future deliver? How will participation in the association improve the lives of our members? The strategic planning work that the Board of Directors began several months ago with stakeholder focus groups is on track for completion in mid-March. In the coming month, you will have opportunities for further input. We hope you will engage in those opportunities and help us to answer these critical questions.
Together, as a community, we will lay the foundation for the MSAE of the Future.
With MSAE’s new organizational membership model, our membership has more than doubled to over 1,700 members. No longer are we an association just for the Chief Staff Executive…we’re here to serve the entire association staff. During the past year, we’ve created many new programs, webinars, peer-to-peer community of practice groups, and resources to address the needs of all staff levels.
It's not possible to capture all of the remarkable things association leaders have done in the past week. The news feed, my Twitter roll, TV... everywhere I look, I see the difficult decisions you are making and critical leadership you are providing to your members, your teams, and society at large. If you ever doubted it before, you can hardly do so now: your members need you.
In these past ten days, the needs of your members have driven you out of bed, pulled at your core, and challenged you to think more, do more, lead more. Their need pushed you to utilize the capacity of your self and your organizations in ways that weren't previously considered. "Can we...?" "What if we...? "How can we...?" Barriers that were once onerous and formalities that seemed important have been stripped away by the driving need of your members.
I am honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement award from Michigan Meetings & Events magazine. I could not be at the event…… the great guy I married over 32 years ago and I went for a needed break in Mexico. Fortunately, they prerecorded my acceptance speech.
Over the years, I have found William Bridges' work in the area of change and transition useful because it helps me think about change in terms of the people it affects. According to Bridges, things change, but people have to transition. For change to be successful, we must tend to the transition.
It's no great secret that MSAE is in a period of change. We're reviewing every program, product, and service and weighing them against the actual value they create for members. These efforts, as well as last summer's focus groups and the survey that we sent out this week, are the prelude to a strategic planning session scheduled later this month. We are resolute in our commitment to reinventing the association. Cue change...and transition.
Membership. It matters, right? Lobbying, professional development, networking, discount programs...the list of association services is endless! But no matter what else we do in associations, the work always comes back to membership - understanding the membership, growing membership, serving the membership.
It was the concern most often identified by CEOs in our member survey. Given this environment of radical change, massive shifts in the industry, and changing member demographics, it only makes sense that CEOs give careful consideration to ensuring their associations remain relevant. So what is the state of membership? How are associations faring?