I read recently that flight instructors tell student pilots to “just fly the plane” when problems arise in the sky. They do this to remind the pilot to not become so distracted by problems that they crash the plane. I’m writing this President’s Update as your new pilot working to ensure our CDS plane does not crash. Although we have been through some turbulence, we are back to flying this plane together – our conference is on track, our leadership is strengthening, and our management is streamlining. Your Directors and Officers have re-committed themselves to working for the members, actively designing more and better processes for engagement. Here we go together!
We have launched the registration for our 49th annual international conference in Detroit (#CommDev18) with the help and support of our Conference Planning Committee, Local Host Committee, and dedicated staff and vendors. The conference includes an engaging line up of keynote speakers highlighting community development in Detroit, mobile learning workshops that will take us to see activities around the city, and an array of interactive and informative presentations. Details are being finalized, so keep an eye out for updates!
The Conference Planning Committee, with the support of the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and the past presidents, is taking on the responsibility of stewarding our 2018 conference to success in lieu of appointing a Vice President of Programs. I will also continue to serve as conference chair to coordinate these collaborative efforts.
The Board has appointed Jane Leonard to serve as Vice President of Operations. She has accepted the appointment and is currently working with the Executive Committee and Board to ensure we have a conference location for 2020. She brings not only her professional experience as a “prac-ademic” to the role, but the experience of having been part of the CDS leadership in the past. She will no doubt add a bridging dimension to discussions on the advancement of our organization. I really appreciate Jane’s willingness to step up for our organization in a time of need.
Elections for new CDS leadership are coming up shortly. Please be on the lookout for the email containing your ballot information and vote for the candidates that you know can help lead our organization though our 50th year and beyond!
The Board has also been exploring ways to update our guiding documents, including our bylaws and our Policies and Operations Guidelines (POG). Although some work has been done in this respect, the Board wanted to ensure that proper member engagement was part of this updating process, so a committee has been formed to design a process around updating our organizing documents. This will include interactive sessions to gather member input during the 2018 conference, a clear transition plan for any structural changes, and transparency and communication in relation to proposed changes. We look forward to including you in the process of updating and improving the functioning of our organization.
I am appreciative of the work of our new Managing Director, Justin Fallon-Dollard. He jumped right in supporting the conference proposal submissions, registration, and logistics, as well as processing memberships, working with our finances, and looking for ways to streamline and improve our administrative processes. Management transitions are not a simple undertaking and I want to acknowledge the commitment Justin has made to support CDS through all our recent transitions. The Executive Committee and the Board will continue to work with Justin to ensure that all the operations of our organization are running smoothly and improving moving forward.
This has been a challenging time for CDS and for me personally. I look at what has happened recently, and I can hardly believe what we have been through. I do know we learn from mistakes and we become stronger through challenge. The committed remain to drive us forward together. I am proud to be a part of CDS, where we have been and where we are going. It is an honor to serve our members and our field. Although I can’t promise to never make mistakes, I can promise to always work for the best interest of our organization and its members. This is as true today as it’s always been. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve. Let me know how I can better serve – I’m listening.