During the FICP January Board of Directors meeting, Executive Director Steve Bova led the board through a list of accomplishments that should be shared with our entire membership and hospitality community. As you know, 2005 was an exciting year for our association — culminating in record attendance at the annual conference and the unveiling of a new identity, FICP. So here is a brief look at our accomplishments:

The decision to relocate our association's headquarters in 2004 was an aggressive move by the board — one requiring a new and different way of conducting business. As an organization, we have benefited greatly from that decision, gaining a greater operational focus and strategic way of thinking.

One result of our new management model was the need to evolve from an organization primarily focused on its annual conference to an association with multiple member benefits, including our annual conference. Staff needed to simultaneously learn about the association and its members, improve on existing policies and procedures, offer best practices, and begin to form new programs and services to strengthen our foundation and build the association.

In January 2005, the association developed its first-ever strategic plan. From this plan came the focus necessary to propel the association forward. Immediately following the January board meeting, the 2005 Annual Conference Design Team developed its objectives for the year — all of which were achieved.

Former president John Touchette improved communications between the regional chapters and the association by implementing quarterly conference calls. Committees were formed for education, sponsorship, and branding to address our strategic initiatives. Adding to the value of membership, we held our first two webinars in 2005. (These will continue in 2006.) We also increased delivery of NewsNet, our e-newsletter, from four to 11 issues.

By late summer, John Touchette had changed jobs and resigned as president, allowing me to assume this role earlier than expected. At that time, our proposed name change and bylaws restatement were fully under way. At least one board and one staff member attended each of the 2005 regional chapter meetings to provide an update on the name-change process while answering member questions. In September, we held a Town Hall Meeting at IT&ME in Chicago, providing an additional opportunity for members' voices to be heard.

The bylaws vote overwhelmingly passed in October, and our new name and logo were introduced at the annual conference in New York. The 2005 annual conference drew record attendance. Sponsors were impressed with the additional recognition provided by the new Wall of Fame. Contributions for the silent auction far exceeded the previous record, with more than $50,000 donated to the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. We also provided educational sessions that delivered on quantity and quality as evidenced by positive post-conference evaluations.

At year's end, net membership growth was 15.7 percent over the prior year, reflecting a record number of members (457). This membership growth is even more impressive when you consider the decline in membership of 11 percent between 2002 and 2004.

We will continue to work tirelessly to provide our membership and hospitality partners with increased value throughout 2006. We look forward to introducing a new and improved Web site design, as well as improved database integration, which will allow us to better manage the association. Our hospitality partners have asked that we provide them with an economic impact study, helping FICP to promote our members' value in the marketplace. We will engage a third-party market research company to assist with compiling this information and hope to have results by the end of this year. We will ask our members to provide us with information — and we thank you in advance for your participation.

In order for us to continue the momentum, we need member involvement! As of this writing, we have fewer than 20 members, about 4 percent, who have expressed interest in volunteering on one of our many committees. I encourage you to become involved during this exciting time. If you are interested in volunteering, please update your member profile on the Web to let us know. If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2006, I encourage you to do so soon.

Thank you for a tremendous year!