Connections - 01.31.23

President’s Corner: The Power of Association

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As the relatively new President of the ANCOR Board of Directors, I wanted to thank you for your membership in ANCOR. We’ve never been stronger and it’s all because of you! I’m pleased to share that in 2022, ANCOR welcomed over 80 new members. This includes providers joining directly, and through welcoming our eleventh (Interhab in Kansas) and twelfth (Institute for Public Policy for People with Disabilities in Illinois) 100% state associations.

I was honored to be elected President by the Board last October, and I honestly can’t believe it’s already been four months! In that time, the full Board has met twice, the Executive Committee has met monthly, and we had our Executive Committee retreat along with ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill. That event was a two-day association Board leadership symposium focused on best practices.

I’m looking forward to meeting many of you in Chicago in April for the 2023 ANCOR Annual Conference, but I wanted to take a few minutes now to introduce myself, and share my excitement for our collective future and vision for how ANCOR can further grow and adapt to meet the needs of our community of providers.

I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors, the visionaries whose dedication has brought this association to where we are today. I am particularly grateful to work with the exceptional leaders that comprise our current Executive Committee and Board. Our focus is on continuing to be a generative and strategic board in order to meet the needs of our members, provide opportunities for new leaders, and remain open to examining our processes to ensure we achieve those objectives.

I’ve worked in our field my entire career, most of that time with Koinonia, a nonprofit providing a full range of supports to hundreds of people in multiple counties in northeastern Ohio. My agency has adapted and grown over the years, and we’ve benefited in many ways through our membership and engagement with our state association and ANCOR.  I’ve also served as an officer on the OPRA Board of Directors, and have served two terms on the ANCOR Board. I served two terms as Vice President before assuming this role.

As chair of ANCOR’s Governance Committee for the last four years, we tackled policies, procedures and our bylaws – never sexy work, but critical to the success of our association. The common thread to our work was to create more opportunities for leadership, inclusive of our new 100% state associations and the ANCOR Foundation, and provide greater clarity in who our core members are: providers of services.

As the oft-repeated African proverb reminds us, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” I particularly love that saying, because it describes the power we gain together and recognizes that adherence to inclusive, deliberative and transparent process – rarely fast! – gives us the best results in the long run.

And long-term solutions are what we need.

Together we have weathered what certainly seems to be the worst of the pandemic, but we continue to face the most challenging workforce shortage in our history. There’s never been more of a need for us to ensure our lobbying at the federal level is as strong as possible and for us to seek innovative solutions to this crisis. While we were very successful in advocating for pandemic-related funding and flexibilities, as the public health emergency dollars wind down and the Settings Rule kicks in, the urgency for regulatory flexibilities and funding remains.

While our federal advocacy will always be critical, the power of association is deeply evident in our conferences, summits, webinars, committees, councils, communities of practice, Foundation Leadership Academy and the ANCOR Connected Community. These events, communities and platforms provide unparalleled access to national thought leaders, policymakers and, most importantly, to each other. We have so much to learn from each other!

That’s why it is so important to me that we systematically and periodically monitor what’s working and what isn’t, build on what we do best, ensure that our governing processes and procedures are transparent, and constantly seek to make the best decisions we can – informed, not rushed, free of bias, and inclusive of the diverse perspectives of our members. That’s how we can ensure that ANCOR is equipped to grow and adapt to further our mission: to advance the ability of our members to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to fully participate in their communities.

Thank you for your membership. I welcome your engagement as we continue on this journey together.

Diane Beastrom is President of the ANCOR Board of Directors.