Presidents Message – February 2013

I write this as I am flying home from a week in Dallas. Two of the five days were spent with PPAI Regional Relations staff and Ted Fuehr, MAS, your RAC Board of Directors Vice President for 2013.

As I reflect on the time spent there, it strikes me how energizing this kind of work can be. I believe our partners on the Regional Relations staff when they tell me how energized and excited THEY are about the work that we put in while there.

What’s with the excitement? There appears to be a renewed sense of purpose among ALL of us as we approach 2013. I believe that sense of purpose lies in the notion that we are at a crossroads in the evolution of both Regional Associations as well as RAC, an entity formed to serve the common purpose of the 27 regional association members.

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you are somehow associated with a Regional Association, you volunteer your time and talent to the industry we serve, and you’re passionate about this industry. I also hope you understand the enormous threats posed to your Regional Association today. Many Regionals are struggling with stagnant and aging membership, a single economic engine in their tradeshows, and a somewhat nebulous, or “hard to define” value proposition for a potential member to consider. These challenges are real, and hard work must be done now to ensure the continued future of our member organizations.

While the previous paragraph may seem a bit negative, I’ll refer you to the speech I gave at the RAC Delegate Assembly at EXPO last month. It’s time we stop kidding ourselves. It’s time that we realize the unique opportunity that we have as members of our Regional Associations to leave our mark on the industry for years to come. With a concerted effort, we have the opportunity to set a course that ensures the continued legacy of serving our members and the industry as a whole.

As 2013 concludes, your RAC Board of Directors will gather to write a strategic plan for the organization going forward. In this plan, we’ll focus our efforts on ways to create opportunities to improve the value proposition of the member Regionals, their membership, AND their current non-member constituents. It’s the single most important thing we can do. In my year as President, it’s imperative that I lead your Board in creating, facilitating, and continuing conversations with each of you so that we might create a plan for success.

That’s where you come in. Without reams of information about the current realities facing you as volunteer leaders in this industry, it’s less likely that our plan will be reality-based. We’re creating as many opportunities as we can to give you avenues to communicate with us, and we will aggressively pursue you in search of this kind of information. Do not hesitate to share. Be provocative. Say what you ordinarily would not say. Challenge us. There are no sacred cows.

I look forward to the conversation.



Roger Burnett, CAS

2013 RAC Board President