An Open Letter to Executive Directors


To my colleagues serving the important role of Executive Director of the Regional Associations participating in the Regional Association Council, I say thank you.  On behalf of the entire RAC Board of Directors, I thank you for the work that you do.

I also want to thank you for having been so responsive to the work that the RAC Board has been trying to accomplish this year.  Many of you took the time to participate in the District meetings that we held in person, and some of you were kind enough to participate in more than one! (Guess who??)

It’s an interesting time in our industry for you to have your job.  As many of you have had the courage to say, there are specific challenges to the continued livelihood of the organizations you serve; challenges that require time, attention and thought leadership to solve.

As we enter this week charged with creating the strategic plan document that will govern that which the RAC Board does going forward, our activity is infused with the information that you’ve shared with us, and it is our intent to work closely with you as well as your representative Board of Directors in the future once we are ready to deliver a completed document.

With that in mind, I have a favor to ask of you:

1) Remember, we ask that you assume no ill intent.

  • Paul Bellantone reminded us at LDW that there is a commom misconception that PPAI would like to take over the role of the Regional Association.  He also reminded us that as the 12 year relationship between the 2 has shown, they must be bad at their takeover attempts, or we must once and for all dismiss them as untrue.  I give you my personal assurances that I have witnessed nothing to give me any thought of PPAI wanting to sweep you aside.  If we can set that notion aside for good, it will be to the benefit of the relationship.

2) You’ll have to give to get.

  • As opportunities develop, I expect that we will ask for open and honest information sharing from you and your Board with respect to facts and figures about your organization.  In some instances, what you report may not be positive, and may give you the impression that your Association might be viewed negatively by result of sharing that information.  I ask that you work as closely as possible with your Board to share what is requested even if that scenario is the case.  Without honest answers to difficult questions, we may find ourselves working on problems that are not of the highest priority.  Let’s play with as many cards on the table as possible.

3) Help us create a sense of urgency around the progress that needs to be made.

  • I will start the exercise of creating regular discussion amongst your President community around the 3 Big Hairy Problems we discussed at this years LDW, NOTE: for those of you that didn’t catch what they are, they are:
  1. Finding alternative income streams to complement tradeshow revenue
  2. Recruiting non-members/retaining existing
  3. Board leadership recruitment and retention

We will use that exercise as a way for the Executive Leadership of RAC to facilitate conversation amongst Executive Leadership at the Regional level.  It’s important that your Executive leaders have a closer relationship with what is going on with their peers, so we make sure they have a sense of the potential impact of inaction.  Please work along with them as they participate in these activities with their peers, so that they may create actionable activity for their Boards to work on.

I leave you with this.  In many instances I’ve witnessed the exasperated faces of Executive Directors as a new topic of conversation is created or a new opportunity to do something pops up.  What I’ve come to understand about those faces is that the feeling of pain being expressed was not directed at the idea, but at the notion of another job laid at your feet because of that great idea.  I get it.  What we’re trying to do here is bring some clarity to not only the HOW things might get done in the future, but also to the WHO should do them.  If we can give you a deliverable that is accompanied by a description of whom in your organization should do the work, it saves you from what happens now; no one takes responsibility for the task so it then becomes YOUR job.  I will do my best to avoid that scenario whenever possible, and if we suggest a task be yours, hopefully it will be for reasons that you understand.

I’ve enjoyed my year as President, as we’ve looked things in the eye and are doing our best to help ensure the continued success of those Regionals to which you have dedicated time, talent and energy.  Please, as always, never hesitate to reach out to me about any topic.

1 Comment

  1. Dana Geiger says:

    Thank you Roger. I know that I (and the Boards I work with) know the great value that RAC brings to our regional associations. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to lend a voice to the conversation. I know that you and the other volunteers that comprise the RAC board have many irons in the fire and I thank you all for making the RAC strategic plan a priority.

    RAC and the PPAI Regional Relations Team provides us (me) with excellent tools and resources for which I am grateful. Perhaps the most valuable of these is the opportunity to collaborate with peers and it makes sense that our Board leaders should have this opportunity as well. I am a believer in the idea that rising tides raise all boats.

    So often communication is the stopping point. I vow to do all I can to help the RAC Board connect with the regional leaders I work with and look forward to see how we can help give lift to new objectives and/or initiatives that are developed.

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