Friday, April 3, 2009

Guest Blog - Importance of States to Our Association

Ever talk with an ACPA State Leader? After a few minutes in conversation with them, you soon realize that they can make any state event a reality regardless of the roadblocks in front of them. Take for instance the current economy. It hasn’t stopped New York CSPA from offering a $250 research grant to its membership, or prevented Wisconsin CPA from eliminating membership fees by working them into conference fees and tripling membership, or stopped Minnesota from funding 9 graduate student scholarships!

Despite the many challenges state divisions face; namely recruiting and retaining volunteer boards, operating on very low membership dues, retaining graduate student members whose job search takes them out of the state; ACPA state divisions provide the highest quality and most accessible professional development for our association members. They are small but mighty and nimble enough to respond quickly to changes in member needs and economic shifts.

Throughout our Convention 2009 experience, state and international division leaders invited Governing Board leadership, Convention Planning Teams, and task force representatives to its meetings. Every single one of those representatives served as state division presidents sometime during their ACPA journey. The divisions provide a foundational training-ground for ACPA leadership and offer every level of student affairs professional a unique and intimate leadership experience. The opportunity to present at state division conferences, to conduct research as part of a case study competition or grant-supported research, and to experience transformative leadership….state divisions of ACPA are phenomenal!

I remember my first foray into a state division of ACPA. I was working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Development at The University of Akron in 1987 and a colleague, Brian Brietholz invited me to go travel to Ohio University for a conference planning committee meeting. I had no idea what I might be in for, but I had about 5 hours of drive time to consider what I might contribute. We arrive and are greeted by the friendliest group of student affairs professionals anyone could meet. Regardless of the fact that I had very little experience with conference planning, a task was delegated to me. My job? Choose the conference gift (or as I like to call them, chotskies). Well I did (and boy did I think those printed four sided highlighters were da’bomb!). But, that was all it took for me to be hooked. A highlighter!

It doesn’t take a whole lot to introduce young professionals to ACPA. Connect them with your state association and watch their professional lives be transformed into rewarding lifelong careers.

One highlighter later, I find myself serving this valuable association as Coordinator of State Divisions. I am honored, not by the title, but by the opportunity to step in and out of the lives of the state division leaders as they create, innovate and communicate to provide their membership (ACPA’s membership) at every level of their professional journey with every type of learning opportunity a student affairs professional could ask for.

ACPA States Create, Innovate & Communicate!

Submitted by Dr. Sandra Emerick, Coordinator of State Divisions
Cleveland State University

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