Asa's New President Experiences Chicago Conference

By Stein, Robert G. | Aging Today, March/April 2007 | Go to article overview

Asa's New President Experiences Chicago Conference


Stein, Robert G., Aging Today


As the new president and CEO of the American Society on Aging, I was truly inspired to meet so many ASA members and leaders of the aging network during the 2007 Joint Conference of ASA and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) in Chicago in March. I cannot imagine a better orientation to my new work and to the key issues facing professionals in the field of aging.

As most of you know, we live in a time of enormous opportunity for those serving older adults. Communities are developing new programs and services to meet the evolving needs of an aging society, and the number of professionals serving older adults continues to grow-especially among those who do not have traditional training in gerontology.

Similarly, ASA is evolving to meet the needs of its members-many of whom have been in the field of aging for two or three decades. These professionals continue to enhance the body of knowledge in aging even as they upgrade their own knowledge and skills. To facilitate this process of information exchange, ASA is designing the online Knowledge Center. By enabling ASA to keep abreast of state-of-the-art developments in the field, from cutting-edge research to best practices, the Knowledge Center will allow the organization to bring new ideas to members quickly, often before this information finds its way into the professional literature.

STRENGTH IN OUR HISTORY

Many of ASA's longtime members, as well as leaders in the field of aging, were among the more than 300 guests who gathered in Chicago to salute ASA's former president and CEO Gloria Cavanaugh, who retired from the organization after 31 years. I remember meeting Gloria more than 20 years ago when I was on staff of the then-Association of Western Hospitals (AWH), which later became The Healthcare Forum. Our offices in downtown San Francisco were located directly across the street from ASA, which had recently changed its name from the Western Gerontological Society. AWH chief executive Kathryn Johnson and I met with Gloria, who was generous in sharing her experience in how to guide an organization through a name change that would mark its transition from regional association to national organization. In addition, Gloria and the ASA staff helped us identify issues and experts as The Healthcare Forum developed programs examining the impact of aging on the healthcare delivery system.

Over the years, I have come to admire ASA for its mission and programs, and I'm sure ASA members will join me in wishing Gloria all the best as she continues to work on behalf of older adults. Gloria's work-along with the work and commitment of current ASA staff, volunteer leadership, collaborative partners and members-provides a valuable foundation on which to build for the future.

Participating in the annual conference provided me with many significant opportunities to learn about key issues in aging and to talk with members, leaders and sponsors. I am impressed by the passion and commitment of ASA members and the conference community. I could actually feel the strong pulse of the membership throughout the meeting. ASA's recent survey found that more than nine in io of those who attended were very satisfied or satisfied with their conference experience, and 91% said they learned new ideas that will fuel their work for the coming year.

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