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E.g., 04/02/2020

Looking Forward to the Future, Feeling Grateful for the Past

By: Allison Ferch, Executive Director

31 May 2018

In January I celebrated my 8th work anniversary at GALA. Since my early days as a part-time events coordinator to my recent position managing GALA’s key programs, I’ve had a front-row seat to the association’s evolution and growth. I’m grateful to the cadre of dedicated volunteers that have contributed essential support and to my colleagues, past and present, who have moved mountains to help GALA become what it is today. Laura Brandon, my esteemed predecessor, was a wonderful steward of the association and guided it gracefully from childhood through the tumultuous teen years. She’s left us with an organization that is mature, stable, and poised for its next stage of development.

What that next stage of development is, precisely, is my current focus. The purpose of an industry or trade association is, at its most basic level, to enable mutual enrichment of its members. An association allows businesses to connect for learning, knowledge-sharing, and community-building. It promotes best practices, supports companies in becoming more competitive in the sector, and serves the common needs of an industry. It requires all the individual parts of the industry – educators, service providers, tech developers, consumers – to work together for the common good and accomplish together what cannot be achieved alone.

While the raison d'être is quite clear, the path forward is not always so obvious. What are the common needs of the industry? What are the best practices? In short, how can the association provide value to its members, and to the industry collectively?

I feel a pressing need to evaluate GALA’s position and value proposition in order to adapt to a changing industry and indeed, a changing global economy. (This is not unlike what our member companies must do.) The board and staff have recently begun a strategic planning process, starting with internal and external risk assessment. With the full understanding that the present global economy favors innovation, empowerment, inclusion, collaboration, and purpose, we must better see the challenges and opportunities before us and be prepared to seize them. Throughout the remainder of the year, the board and staff will be developing a strategic plan and framework to map GALA’s direction and development over the next 2-3 years.

Provisionally, we are exploring the diversification of membership to ensure all the individual parts, mentioned above, are represented. We want to develop meaningful global communities that support the needs of specific member segments, whether that means regions, verticals, or simply common interests. We want to grow member engagement to leverage the knowledge and experience our members possess. We want to address the gaps that prevent ours from being a bona fide profession. (I’ve heard it said that ours is the second oldest profession in the world, and yet we lack some of the hallmarks of a true profession.) And we want to explore how GALA can amplify the collective voice of the industry to reach beyond our own audience to the global business community.  

Our strategic planning exercises will reveal our most urgent priorities and help us create a roadmap for the near and mid-term. We want to have a clear strategy, see our programs and offerings aligned with that strategy, and for there to be clear value in everything we offer to members. Your input is always welcomed, and I encourage you to reach out with your suggestions and feedback. It is an undeniable truth that active association members find greater value in membership and your engagement is needed, valued, and appreciated. I look forward to working with you and serving the association and its members.

Allison Ferch

Allison is GALA's Executive Director. Over the past 10 years she has served GALA in several roles and provided leadership for many of the association’s programs and activities. As Executive Director, she leads operations at GALA and is responsible for the growth of the association, its financial stability, and for the expansion and delivery of member value. Allison has an undergraduate degree in Biological Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. A lifelong athlete and a lifelong learner, she enjoys podcasts, reading, and all kinds of sports and athletic endeavors.