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August 16, 2004

Reflections on ASAE 2004

During the flight home I had an extended opportunity to reflect on ASAE 2004. Here are a few observations. Being brand new to ASAE volunteer leadership, and therefore having an extremely limited sense of the history of ASAE leadership, please take with a grain of salt anything I report to be "new." It's all new to me, really.

First, some members are already sensing a positive change in ASAE culture because of the ASAE-Center merger; many perceive a new spirit of collaboration and opening of doors. For example, ASAE is about to embark on a comprehensive member needs assessment survey. Apparently this will be the first one in many years! (I personally don't recall participating in a membership survey in my five years of membership) That in itself is nothing to get overly excited about, but each section council is being asked for five questions to include in the survey. That was good news to some of the council members, and many said it was an expression of change at ASAE.

In addition to that, the ASAE board has made the decision to include council chairs in strategy development as well as the planning and budgeting process! I applaud the ASAE board for this decision. These steps to include more stakeholders in planning the future of ASAE is fantastic.

However, there seems to be some confusion (and even some fear) about the ASAE-Center merger among the people I spoke with -- even ASAE-Center staff. I suppose these are growing pains, and to be expected. This is a major change, I know.

For example, more than a few of the members I spoke with didn't understand that the Center would be assuming responsibility for all ASAE educational initiatives. I can see how that might be the case if you didn't personally have to vote for GWSAE's dissolution. This revelation was a little troubling for some of my colleagues on the membership section council who thought their input and hands-on development of some programs might be diminished. Some on the council, however, were simply elated to learn that the Center would do more of the leg-work to make programs happen.

Two programs I attended that I feel I should mention. I attended a program on the Association Forum of Chicagoland's member loyalty program. Really cool idea that fits right into the concepts put forward by the authors of one of my favorite blogs. Definitely check out this program on the web at:

Also, I attended a roundtable discussion with Jeff DeCagna. Going back to one of my earlier posts on Governance and Structure and the question of to whom does the association belong, Jeff said something during the roundtable that really changed my perspective. He said that "the association is 'owned' by those who contribute to it." One can contribute through dues, or through time, but the point is that staff and members both have 'ownership' of the association. Interesting thought. I'm still processing it.

But the most exciting thing about ASAE 2004 was meeting a few CAE candidates. Already we're talking about study groups and sharing our preparation. And as always, the opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with old friends is well worth the time and money spent to attend these meetings. I'm already planning for ASAE 2005.

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