As these are the final days of my Presidency, I thought I'd take this opportunity to reflect on this past year and offer my thoughts to the membership and the leaders who will be succeeding me during these ever-changing times.
A year ago our association was facing two crises: COVID-19 Pandemic and lost membership confidence.
I was elected Vice President three years ago on the promises of: rebuilding membership confidence; governance evaluation and restructuring; transparency of and getting association financials back on track; working toward becoming a more member and geographically inclusive association; and guiding the NCHA to get back in touch with our core beliefs and heritage.
Over these past 12 months as NCHA President, I have received numerous emails and calls supporting my efforts but also holding me accountable on my campaign pledges. And I have to tell you, I appreciated every one of those contacts, even the ones I didn’t like. When anyone takes time out of their life to reach out and share their thoughts, comments and concerns it means they’re invested . . . something many of our members had stopped being. When people talk, participate, and leadership listens, there’s very little that can’t be accomplished.
One of the greatest hindrances toward building a strong association, and keeping it strong and representative, is when leadership forgets to listen. I encourage everyone from committee members to those in an NCHA leadership position, including Directors, to remember this and pledge to be more conscientious of this fact when listening to members and while making association decisions, particularly financial decisions.
Continue to work together toward our common goals and strive to embrace the opinions of those speaking out, especially those with differing opinions. When respectful discussions occur, when people truly listen, and work to find common ground, there’s very little that can’t be accomplished. I can honestly say this practice has served me well during my days in office.
Financial strength and growth cannot happen unless we have continued buy-in from ALL of leadership, including committees, and pledge to work as a true team, while also understanding and respecting that it is ultimately the responsibility of the Executive Committee and Executive Director to make any financial decisions . . . and be held accountable for those decisions. Leaders need to remember that we have an obligation to ALL our members and sponsors to do what is RIGHT and BEST for the association as a whole, not just a select group of members or a certain geographic region of members, as has been the case in the past, and not just for the here and now, but for the future of the NCHA. If we do not take into account the impacts our decisions make on our future, then our future will always be in question.
Our membership is growing again; the Weekend Circuit Program is being implemented, praised, with participation enthusiastically increasing. The Weekend Circuit Program is expected to not simply increase near-term association funding and membership, but increase awareness of our sport, association and heritage, thus expanding future funding streams and bolstering association financial health. It is imperative that the Weekend Circuit System plan continues to be brought to complete fruition so the NCHA can realize its full impact and potential.
Keeping the pledge of financial transparency, the EC began receiving regular monthly financial reporting the last half of 2020 and this valuable information is now available online to interested members. Due to COVID pandemic closures and restrictions, our association 2020-21 Budget fell far short of expected and the financial consequences of that will continue to be felt in 2021 and 2022. As long as we continue to make thoughtful and responsible financial decisions we have the ability to maintain long-term financial viability and regrow our foundation trust and member confidence.
It is true that the COVID pandemic closures and restrictions have greatly impacted NCHA operations and finances as is true for most every other organization in America. We are still navigating and managing regularly changing federal and state mandates and guidances, weighing financial benefits vs. member health concerns, including renegotiating several government contracts, due to these current conditions. Not all decisions were popular, but most all were needed or the right thing to do. While there have been numerous challenges for all of us, individually and as an association, the COVID pandemic has also offered us an opportunity to realign our direction toward the future; to refocus on broad membership inclusivity; allowed us time to strategically layout and implement much needed changes; and reminded us of our heritage. We have members who have been struggling; members whom we’ve lost due to COVID; and members who have really stepped up in support of other members, our great association and society as a whole. We will come out of this situation stronger and wiser as our Western way of life has done for us for nearly two hundred years. Let’s honor those we’ve lost by continuing to make well thought out, responsible financial decisions and not waste the lessons and gifts from this moment in history.
This year, 2021, marks the 75th anniversary of the NCHA; let's make sure our decisions today and in the future allow our current youth members to proudly celebrate our 100th anniversary!
Congratulations to Toddy Pitard for being elected Vice President. He will have two skilled and thoughtful mentors in Ora Diehl and Ted Sokol.
I have had the privilege of serving with Ora for the past two years and Ted for the past year. We have not always agreed, but I can say with confidence that I leave the Presidency to two very capable and thoughtful people. Their hearts are in the right place and they have worked with me in support of getting the NCHA to where it needs to be. I hope they receive the same support, communication and participation from all of you that you have given me.
It has been an honor to have been allowed to represent and lead the NCHA as the NCHA will always hold a place in my heart.
Be well, stay safe and God bless,
Outgoing NCHA President