My hopes for ASAE’s Diversity and Inclusion Conference

A lot has been said recently in the blogosphere about the topic of diversity and inclusion within the association community.  So I was very happy to learn that ASAE was taking the conversation to the next level with the Diversity and Inclusion Conference in Washington, DC next February.  As a DELP Scholar, I feel this is long overdue.  Here are some of my hopes and dreams for this upcoming event.

This doesn’t mark the end of the conversation at ASAE conferences. D&I programming is still needed at the Annual Meeting, Great Ideas, and other activities.

This conference extends the preaching beyond the choir. Those of us who have an interest in diversity and inclusion have already heard best practices, lessons learned and so on.  This program should seek out the skeptics who may even question the need for such a conference.

Being brave enough to have the uncomfortable conversation. How can we learn to work together when we don’t take the time to understand each other?  We all stereotype.  We need to own up to it, deal with it and move on.

Social media is utilized. If no one is actively tweeting, facebooking, and/or foursquaring about this conference, we will be missing a golden opportunity.

To recognize the visible and invisible forms of diversity.  This must become the mindset moving forward.

Giving those who are not CEOs or senior staff the opportunity to participate. To have a thoughtful conversation about diversity and inclusion, shouldn’t we have feedback from across the spectrum?  I’m sure lower level staff can contribute to the conversation as well if not better than the CEO.

This conference becomes part of the regular ASAE schedule. If the association wants to show leadership with this topic, this conference has to continue beyond 2011.  We can no longer afford to just pay lip service to diversity and inclusion.

By the way, if you’re interested in becoming a content leader at the Diversity and Inclusion Conference, RFPs are due this Friday October 1.  More information can be found here: Spread the word and get involved!


Would you join the association you work for?

If you’ve worked for an association for any length of time, then you’re well aware of how your members are treated.  You know whether their dues money is either being used for the purposes intended or wasted.  You know if the staff will work on their behalf or just for a paycheck.

Armed with this knowledge, ask yourself the following question: If you were given the opportunity, would you join the association you work for?

Quick post – Pedigree’s Adoption Campaign

From now until Sunday September 19, Pedigree will donate a 20-pound bag of dog food to a local shelter for every blog post about its adoption program. As a dog owner who got her pet from a rescue, I’m a firm believer in pet adoption. The Pedigree Foundation works with shelters to find loving homes for dogs. So far the campaign has generated more than 1 million meal for dogs in shelters throughout the United States. Do your part to help. For more information visit the Pedigree’s adopt a pet webpage:

Association lobbyists: Congress is kicking our butts when it comes to social media

Say what you will about Congress.  You can’t deny that the institution has embraced some form of social media.  Members of Congress have their own Facebook pages.  Congressional committees use Twitter to promote upcoming hearings.  The House and Senate have their own YouTube channels.  A few are even creating their own app.  However, as association lobbyists, are we using those same tools to promote our advocacy efforts to our members? 

Taking an informal poll during ASAE10, I was hard pressed to find many attendees without some type of smartphone.  I’m sure the same can be said of our members.  And yet, many association government relations offices are promoting their work on Capitol Hill or in the State legislatures with a 4-page double-sided hard copy biannual newsletter that, quite honestly, very few people read.   Sure that same report may be published on the association’s website.  But can your members find it, let alone will want to read it on their Blackberry?

Let’s get creative.  We’re doing some great things on behalf of our members and we need to promote that using every tool at our disposal.  Email is an effective way to get your message out to your grassroots advocates.  However, it’s no longer the only way.  A great example of using social media for advocacy is the Stop the Medicare Therapy Cap Facebook page:  The page was the brainchild of the American Physical Therapy Association in coordination with other  groups (full disclosure – including my former employer) to call on Congress to repeal a financial cap on rehab services.  Status updates describe everything from coalition meetings with congressional staff to how everyday citizens can get involved.  Many of our issues not only affect our members, but the public as well.  Social media is a great way to engage these people.

Email and paper will always have a place in lobbying.  However, we need to accept that social media is now a vital part of the advocacy effort.

Why this advocacy chick has her CAE

A few years ago, I was talking to a colleague about ASAE when the topic of the CAE came up.  When asked if I was going to sit for the exam, I said no.  At the time, I didn’t feel I needed to.  I didn’t think it would enhance my career.  I saw myself as a lobbyist, not an association executive.

I’ve had similar conversations with a few of my government relations colleagues who question their need to earn the CAE.  It’s true that association executives should know something about government relations.  However, what’s the benefit of earning the CAE to the government relations professional?  Is a lobbyist with a CAE more valuable than one without?  As an executive director, where does having a CAE fall in the list of qualifications when hiring a lobbyist?

As the title indicates, I’ve since eaten my words.  I earned my CAE last December and had the pleasure of participating in the Walk during ASAE10.  So why did I change my mind?

Taking a look at my resume, all four of the jobs I’ve held since graduating college were for associations.  At any point in my career, I could’ve jumped ship to Capitol Hill or some lobbying firm downtown.  But I didn’t.  Associations offer me great opportunities and challenges I can’t find anywhere else.  What other industry would allow a 22 year-old administrative assistant to become a director of political advocacy in four years?  Realizing my commitment to this community, it was no brainer for me to pursue my CAE.

So has the designation helped me in my lobbying career? Yes and no.  While the CAE may not help me get cosponsors for my bill, it did come in handy when I moved from a 501(c)6 organization to a (c)3.  Knowing what I can and can’t do in terms of lobbying made a big difference in my transition.  Dare I say it, it made me a better association lobbyist.

Fridays with Kiki and Maddie

Earlier today, I had the esteemed honor of being a guest on Delcor Social Media’s Sweet Spot hosted by the fabulous Kiki L’Italien with the equally fabulous Maddie Grant.  Sweet Spot is a live weekly half-hour webcast (longer when Maddie co-host) on Ustream that highlights the week in associations and social media.  It’s a fast-paced, energetic look at the cool things your colleagues are doing that may not get a lot of attention in other circles.

If you haven’t seen an episode, shame on you.  However, because I’m a nice person, I’ve included the link to Sweet Spot’s Ustream channel:  Today’s topics range from diversity and the DELP program to possible collaborations at ASAE11 (did someone say dance-a-thon?).

It was an amazing hour that went by too quickly.  I want to thank Kiki and Maddie for not only inviting me to hang out with them, but also welcoming me into the association blogging community with open arms.


I wasn’t expecting this

When I started this blog last Thursday, I was not prepared for the outpouring of support that I’ve received.  The feedback from the association blogging community has been tremendously helpful.  I value your advice and hope to continue receiving your feedback.  The fact that ASAE staff has taken the time to not only read, but also comment on the posts serves as reminder of how much they care about their members.

Thanks to this blog, I’ve received two amazing opportunities that I can’t wait to participate in.  I hope to write about them soon.  In the meantime, if I don’t say this enough, thank you.