Community Building, AIHA-Style
Strategic plans rarely make for exciting reading, yet they are essential to setting an organization’s priorities. AIHA’s recently adopted strategic plan for 2019–2021, which I introduced in July, incorporates new mission and vision statements and discusses AIHA’s endeavors in five broad domains, which we call community, awareness, advancement and dissemination of knowledge, integrity of IH practice, and advocacy. Over the next several weeks I’ll explain the goals we’ve identified in each of these domains and the strategies we’ll use to achieve them. First up is the community domain.
As explained in the strategic plan, the intent of AIHA activities that fall under the community domain is “to foster networking, communication, engagement, and interaction in our membership and among our professional communities, and work toward achieving common goals.” The strategic plan focuses on three areas in particular: member recruitment, member engagement, and support of product stewards.
AIHA’s first objective in the community domain is to “create the umbrella space for IH and allied professionals to share, grow, and access information.” The strategic plan identifies three strategies for achieving this goal:
Provide a sense of identity for IHs and allied professionals. AIHA aspires to be the organizational “home” for everyone who can benefit from our educational resources and government relations activities. This group includes not only traditional industrial hygienists but all occupational and environmental health and safety professionals, as well as first responders and the “technician-level” professionals who may not have much formal IH training but are nevertheless essential to protecting the health and safety of workers.
Connect professionals to share ideas and grow. For decades, AIHce was the main venue for IH and other professionals to get to know one another and work on common problems. Now, in addition to AIHce, we have Catalyst, our online community, where AIHA members can communicate with each other and share their expertise 24/7/365. And the recent launch of our virtual sections provides opportunities for members who live in areas not served by a local section to enjoy the benefits of AIHA membership as well as access to a dedicated group of professionals.
Provide access to timely, reliable information. Our volunteer groups have long been the main source of useful resources for IHs and thought-provoking, practical articles in The Synergist.
AIHA seeks not only to attract members to the organization but to facilitate useful experiences that further their education and career development. As described in the strategic plan, we strive to “create pathways for individuals to grow and engage personally and professionally.” The strategies we’ll use to achieve this goal include:
Nurture and sustain a leadership development program. Our annual Leadership Workshop and biannual Future Leaders Institute are the cornerstones of our leadership development efforts and two of the most successful recurring events AIHA has ever conducted.
Provide meaningful opportunities that engage volunteer talent. Our Content Portfolio Advisory Group is playing a key role in identifying areas where the IH profession needs more resources. CPAG’s work helps guide volunteer groups so that they plan activities that fit the needs of our members.
Foster opportunities for volunteers to serve as thought leaders at AIHce. We expect to feature more cutting-edge content for both early-career and seasoned professionals at our annual conference. AIHce content will reflect our content priorities (PDF) and continue the educational track we introduced last year where professors and students discuss research projects.
Maintain an online career center that meets job placement needs of every generation. CareerAdvantage, AIHA’s job board, is a reliable source of opportunities for both job seekers and companies in the OEHS fields.
SUPPORTING PRODUCT STEWARDS
Since its creation in 2012, the Product Stewardship Society has grown by leaps and bounds. This year, the Society proved that its signature conference could stand on its own: for the first time, Product Stewardship 2019 was held apart from other AIHA events. And last month, a special issue of The Synergist highlighted the convergences among product stewardship, sustainability, and industrial hygiene.
In AIHA’s strategic plan, we acknowledge that product stewardship represents a key constituency for the association by committing to “contribute to the development of product steward professionals for them to share ideas, grow, and access information.” We intend to meet this goal by providing in-person and virtual communities for information sharing; defining and building a core educational curriculum to meet career-stage needs; supporting the development of a new credentialing program; promoting the profession via a multi-pronged awareness campaign; and developing a comprehensive product stewardship management system.
Of course, it isn’t enough to identify our goals; we need to think about what success looks like. The strategic plan identifies several metrics we’ll use to track the success of our strategies and to correct our course if needed. These metrics include the numbers of Catalyst logins and active AIHA volunteers, as well as a host of metrics related the Product Stewardship Society, such as the number of members and conference attendees. More information is available in the strategic plan (PDF), and you’re always welcome to contact me with any questions about AIHA’s strategic direction.