Happy Holidays and welcome to #Membersmatter! Meda, Dominick, and I hope that you are all enjoying this special season safe and warm with those who you love. It is a very special time of the year, and as I reflect on this past year, I cannot help but feel grateful for the opportunity to serve AFSA and for the accomplishments of 2021.
We thank all our members who have renewed their membership throughout the year. It has been great talking to so many of you and hearing about your membership and how you use your membership benefits. Through the middle of October, the Membership team was pleased to welcome 107 new members to AFSA. We also reinstated 49 previous members! The new Contractor and Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) trial membership programs brought AFSA 108 trial contractor members and 191 trial AHJ members. This is important not just in terms of numbers, but in that each member of our association represents a member who is also an advocate for strengthening the fire sprinkler industry. Your membership gives us another voice, increases our revenue for improving our education and training programs, and benefits AFSA in terms of outreach for legislation and other important causes.
This past year, the Membership team had the privilege of assisting chapters across the nation and helping our members reorganize the New Mexico, Connecticut, and Schuylkill chapters. We are excited to see the New Year come with new board members and their new energy as they lead their chapters. The Membership team also assisted members with the creation of the new Illinois-Indiana Chapter. We are always grateful for our 31 chapters and for our executive directors and chapter leaders who make things happen. Thank you for all you do and for your dedication and leadership.
Among the many meetings we attended in person and online, we were extremely happy with our first Chapter Leadership Conference as a new team this past spring. While we were still meeting using Zoom, we were able to convene the two-day conference with interactive topics benefiting our chapter leaders across the nation. We discussed “Tips and Tricks for Leading and Managing Chapters,” “The Ins and Outs for Managing Chapters Utilizing Social Media,” “Being a Successful Leader,” “AFSA Case Studies,” “How to Navigate Management of AFSA Chapters.” The information that was shared together and in breakout rooms benefitted our chapters and our chapter leaders with new information and the exchange of ideas!
At the end of June, we held a one-day online meeting with our chapter leaders across the nation to discuss and solicit input for addressing concerns related to the Chapter Grant program. The previous grant program was no longer beneficial to all and did not adequately fund the needs of the 31 chapters. The information provided by chapter leaders was used to develop a recommendation for the new Chapter Development Fund program, which was approved by the AFSA Board of Directors at AFSA40 in San Antonio. This new program will provide funds to all chapters that meet the minimum requirements as outlined in the AFSA Chapter Agreement. The Chapter Development Fund eliminates the difficulties and time constraints of the past grant process, allows the chapters to receive funding for uses that benefit their needs, and assists AFSA with providing guidance and managing our chapters. We are extremely grateful to all who contributed and to our Board for their direction.
Legislation and the monitoring of new bills and regulations across the nation are important toward protecting the industry and promoting regulations that promote the use of fire sprinklers that protect us all from the effects of fire in our homes, businesses, and communities. To monitor legislation, the membership team is now utilizing Fiscal Note as its primary tool for daily updates and communication of changes in legislation throughout the nation. This new platform also provides the ability to initiate legislative campaigns more efficiently with an increased amount of information on bills nationally and statewide. The team is also holding monthly legislative touch-base meetings with AFSA’s dedicated Legislative Committee members to receive updates and to discuss legislation in regions throughout the nation.
As you have read, 2021 was a busy year with new direction and many changes. We thank all of you for your support and encouragement during our first year as a new team. We wish you all a great holiday and a very happy and healthy New Year. See you in 2022!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Lecair is senior director of membership and chapter support for AFSA. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (214) 349-5965 ext. 139.