The Association Adviser staff sat down with Stephen J. Caldeira, incoming Chair of the ASAE Board of Directors, for a quick chat during the 2020 ASAE Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Association Adviser: What are your top initiatives you hope to accomplish during your year as chair? How has your vision of what your year as chair will look like changed with everything that’s happened in the past few months with COVID?
Stephen J. Caldeira: We know that we were going to have to follow through on the strategic plan that started last year; we hope to be in a good place with that by November. As you know, that’s critical to continue to reimagine who we were are ASAE. The good news is we made a decision with senior staff leaders to go forward [with strategic planning] prior to COVID, but that’s now proved a smart decision. We’ll then be able to take key learnings from research, work with key stakeholders on new offerings, and create a strong value proposition that delivers ROI for members.
Do association boards have a responsibility to proactively address the national conversations taking place about racism and social justice issues? If so, how?
Boards have to react to situations like COVID and racial injustice. Diversity, equity and inclusion are not new to ASAE; we’ve been on the forefront for years. While we acknowledge we’ve done some good work, we also know members look to us to continue to be on the cutting edge for how to have these conversations. Our focus is on being respectfully proactive and engaged in conversations that build on the work of previous leaders.
For example, John [Graham IV, CAE, former ASAE president and CEO] was very active in testifying a few years back when a few states tried to implement “bathroom bills.” We’re not doing our job if we weren’t on the forefront of these issues during an unprecedented time.
ASAE has now been around for 100 years. What do you imagine or hope ASAE looks like when the organization celebrates its 200th anniversary?
I hope that ASAE continues to be strategic and forward leaning in a way that helps us stay out in front of the issues of today and allows us to see how the future could be.
At the end of the day, we need to listen to what members’ needs and ask what trends are affecting them most. Members look to us and we need to be engaged on multiple issues because we represent so many people and constituencies. The key will be to collaborate, listen and learn from each other.