Getting There from Here

Article excerpt


We are now in an era of mega transformation. We are changing, and we must change, as the world around us changes.

In Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice asked the Cheshire Cat,

"Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where-" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

Indeed, we are all Alice. But unlike Alice, we do care where we are going-we must go forward, or we will be left behind! And at no time in history has it been so clear, that while we have many choices about how we want to go forward, we must create a dear path to get there together.

Members of associations come together because they share values and interests and want to solve common problems, meet common needs, and achieve common goals. These elements are what make us want to associate with one another.

But, even within the same profession, do we all have the same ideas about exactly where we want to go and how we want to get there? Of course not!

The holistic approach of family and consumer sciences professionals to bettering the human condition is among our greatest strengths. Our members' depth and breadth in specializations that are related to the quality of life are what make us diverse; and this diversity, while complex, also makes us strong. The holistic approach, coupled with our diversity, is the heart and soul of our profession's value to society.

"What does a family and consumer sciences professional do?" people ask. "What do you need?" we reply. "We can do it!"

A study of the trends among associations suggests some common realities:

Change is occurring more rapidly than ever before.

Members of the same association are more unlike each other than ever before.

Resources limit what both members and leaders of associations can do. How AAFCS addresses these three realities will largely determine the current health, as well as the long-term strength of the Association and, perhaps, the family and consumer sciences profession as well. Let's consider how each of the realities- change, diversity and limited resources-affecting all associations affects AAFCS.


We know change is occurring faster than we can take it in. We talk about how we can use change as a stepping-stone to the future, rather than a boulder in our path. How must we change to achieve this?

AAFCS is a mature association. We have a long history of identifying and addressing issues in ways that contribute to an optimum quality of life for individuals and families. Over the years, the Association has instituted policies, procedures, and structures designed to help ensure that leaders establish meaningful programs and that staff implement those programs to help people live more healthful, productive, fulfilling lives.

We have Bylaws, a Policy and Procedures Manual, a Board of Directors, a Senate, committees, task forces, councils, action groups, units and commissions, as well as similar structures within Affiliates, Sections and Divisions to encourage member involvement and expertise in substantive pursuits that strengthen the Association. Every action that established a committee, council or other entity was taken to better serve members and assure they were involved in developing and implementing the Association's priorities. Those actions were right for the times. These structures served AAFCS well.

We are now in an era of mega transformation. We are changing, and we must change, as the world around us changes.

The widespread use of new technology, especially the Internet, makes it imperative that all associations become more flexible and nimble in order to keep pace with the rest of the world. …