Asa Constituent Groups: In-Depth Connections for Members

Article excerpt

Among the American Society on Aging's (ASA) nearly 6,000 members, more than two-thirds belong to at least one of the association's constituent groups. These special-focus groups provide indepth information and connect professionals who share specific issues and concerns. In addition, constituent group chairs serve on ASA's board of directors and play a key role in developing the organization's major programs and initiatives.

ASA constituent groups evolved from peer-group meetings at the association's annual meetings and task forces of the board more than 15 years ago. Because ASA members come from a variety of work settings and disciplines, the groups can provide a chance to network, collaborate, exchange information, and advance research and practice in specific areas of interest within the field of aging. Initiatives of these specialized groups ensure that professionals are prepared to meet the challenges of a changing environment for services in aging. Future issues of Aging Today will profile the history and current activities of the eight groups. In this issue, I am pleased to highlight the first two groups ASA established, both in 1989.

BUSINESS FORUM ON AGING

The Business Forum on Aging (BFA) is the only organization with a focus on the implications and opportunities of marketing to boomers and older adults, as well as on issues of the aging workforce and eldercare. By creating a business-to-business network and linking companies with the best and the brightest leaders in the field of aging, BFA provides its members with practical, usable information and products they need to improve their productivity and sales.

During the last several months, the leadership of BFA has been heavily engaged in strategic planning to determine their future direction. BFA also added several members to its Leadership Council-members representing a number of additional businesses and industries, such as mobility technologies and banking services.

A major BFA initiative not long ago was an outreach campaign to recruit not only businesses in aging, but also those that may not identify themselves with the field of aging. This market segment includes businesses whose products and services benefit the aging population and the boomer generation. With the campaign theme "Why I Belong," BFA launched an outreach effort to recruit new members using impassioned testimonial letters from current BFA members about the group's considerable value.

March 2006 in Anaheim, Calif., the "What's Next? Boomer Summit" will mark its third year as a special offering held in conjunction with the Joint Conference of ASA and the National Council on the Aging (NCOA). This program will bring together key speakers addressing the challenges and opportunities of the boomer marketplace. The four major areas to be addressed will include healthy living; senior living; media, entertainment and leisure; and financial services. In addition, the "Boomer Business Plan Challenge" is a competition for both active businesses and students, who submit business plans for the aging market. Also held at the ASA-NCOA Joint Conference, the contest recognizes entrepreneurs who have innovative products or services and effective business strategies for bringing them to the marketplace.

BFA is also planning a new initiative to reach out to companies addressing labor-force issues and the aging of the workforce. A one-day Special Program at the 2006 Joint Conference will address these issues.

Furthermore, BFA's annual Business and Aging Awards program is growing. The number of submissions to this program have increased significantly during the past two years, and BFA hopes to continue this pattern of success. As the number of companies whose products, services or business practices positively affect the aging population, we aim to recognize these deserving businesses.

The popular Business and Aging e-Clips, the weekly e-newsletter of electronic links to media stories and important reports in aging, is sent to all BFA members. …