As we go to press, the Design Team is putting the final touches on this year's ICPA Annual Meeting with the theme, “Together we paddle as one.” I know it's a cliché, but we are all in the same boat in many ways. If you think about it, when we come together we have an opportunity to learn from each other — which is one of the greatest benefits of our association.

I recently had the opportunity to “paddle” with a different group of peers by participating in a leadership development workshop attended by 40 other association presidents. (ICPA's relationship with SmithBucklin has taught me that there are associations for everything!)

At the leadership development workshop, I participated in a roundtable discussion with the presidents of the Gastroenterology Nurses Association, International Carwash Association, and Association of Steel Distributors. This all sounds a bit crazy and unrelated, but it was fascinating. Despite having very different backgrounds, all of us elected volunteers shared similar challenges and goals. Through SmithBucklin, ICPA now has access to best practices of other associations at our fingertips, such as dealing with governance and communications issues (along with access to marketing, IT, and public relations experts).

As I begin my term as ICPA president, my objectives for 2005, in conjunction with the board, are similar to the other association presidents with whom I had the chance to meet. The goals include the following:

  • Improve communication to members;

  • Help members understand why change is necessary;

  • Prepare ICPA for a strong future, not necessarily as a larger association, but certainly stronger in terms of finance and membership;

  • Develop ways to involve our members in committees and create other volunteer opportunities;

  • Offer value to our members through programs, regional meetings, NewsNet, and the association Web site;

  • Create new opportunities such as the webcasting of educational programs;

  • Improve the Web-based message board;

  • Expand the popular exchange session concept by developing an exchange session that could be offered via a conference call in early spring — a time when, typically, we are too busy to get together but would like to stay in touch;

  • Show our hospitality partners — who truly are our partners — how much we appreciate them by working together to create new business opportunities. I am convinced that ICPA would not exist without them;

  • Encourage involvement. To this end, I welcome your calls and e-mails. Tell me what's on your mind and ask questions. Take the time to get involved, make contact, and step up to the plate!

By now, Hawaii leaves us with a faded memory of a spirited group full of opportunity and new ideas. We paddled together but we have not reached our destination yet. Together, we can use our collective wisdom and make 2005 the best year ever for ourselves and for ICPA. As a new year approaches, what better time than now to get involved, share your concerns and experience, and help ICPA reach its full potential!

Best regards,
John Touchette, CMP
ICPA President
General Director, Meeting Management
John Hancock
(617) 572-6425