By ’17-’18 AFWA National President, Lori Kelley, CPA
What a conference we had in Washington DC! The Alexandria Westin was beautiful, the CPE was great, our keynote speakers were awesome and time spent with friends from all over the country was invaluable! Thank you to our members, sponsors, exhibitors, partners, and our HQ team for making this year’s conference a truly wonderful experience.
Many of our members could not be there for our annual business meeting and AFWA day, so I thought I would present some of my comments from the meeting:
“There is nothing permanent in life except change,” someone once said. Over the past 6 years we have changed our name, changed management companies and now we find that our Executive Director is leaving – more change on the way. We have seen our sister organization – the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants, dissolve their national organization. For 79 years, different generations have been members and leaders of our organization and for 79 years, things have changed – not only our members’ interest, but social, economic, political and environmental matters as well. The only constant is change – we can’t escape it. But the mechanism that always keeps AFWA steady and true, is its commitment to be relevant and to give value to all its members. It’s been my honor to serve on this National Board with women like me, who are passionate about AFWA and want the best for its members.
Over the last several years, we have built a platform of member value that we are proud of. We offer our members tools to thrive in business – certainly technical skills such as what is being offered here at this conference, but also professional development resources to advance our careers. Offerings such as our webinars, live and recorded. These webinars are not only enlightening, but you receive CPE for attending them and I like that they can be used at your regular chapter meetings, when you need content and don’t have a speaker. We also have offered a Master Presenter eCourse to help our members develop public speaking skills. Along with these resources, we also highlight our members through various outlets like the Women of Influence and our LEAP Council. Both of these groups of exceptional women support our organization by helping us remain pertinent to the various demographic groups in AFWA. We just rolled out one of our newest offerings the “Find a Pro” Directory. This was built to provide our members with additional exposure for building your books of business. It allows our members to have an online profile, outlining your skills and areas of expertise.
As the board reflects and evaluates where we are as an organization, and as we listen to the membership, it becomes abundantly clear that in our zest to move forward and create member value, we lost a little bit of focus. This year, it has been the National Board’s intent to get back down to basics. Our emphasis is on connecting, advancing and leading. And to that end, we have begun putting into place, plans to do just that. Chapters are the lifeblood of this organization and it is the Board’s intent to connect to our members AND chapters. First, we want to get out there and meet you where you are! Invite us to your events and meetings. It’s through our interactions that we grow, as individual members, as chapters, and as an organization. Next, we have revived the Chapter Initiatives Committee this year to specifically support our chapters. And one of the first steps the committee has taken is to create a new liaison position that will assist chapters and be that additional link of communications between the chapters and Board and HQ. If you are passionate about the future of AFWA and would like to get involved, please contact us to join our Chapter Coaches group. We need you and look forward to working with you! And finally, we brought back our chapter leadership training to the National Conference with our AFWA day. The Board is dedicated to continue looking for ways to support our chapters and we are looking to you, our members, to provide us with feedback!
In closing, I would like borrow a quote from The Jungle Book & Rudyard Kipling – “The strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf, is the pack.” Individually, we gain as much from the organization as the organization gains from us. It is a symbiotic relationship. Know that your leadership team is committed to keeping this organization alive and on track with its mission to support women in the accounting and finance fields. We are committed to providing the resources to equip our members with the skills they need to thrive in their careers. But we, the Board can’t do it alone. AFWA needs all its members, to support the goals and objectives of this organization with your time, energy, passion and resources, so that the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance will continue on and be there to support all the women, following in our footsteps!