In Orlando the Affiliate Connections Committee (ACC) facilitated a session for affiliate leaders, providing a forum to share strategies, generate ideas, and share concerns.
AMTE conference attendees had the opportunity to provide early input and ask questions via a Google document, which was organized by ACC member Jean Lee, and tweeting, which was organized by ACC member Alejandra Salinas.
Megan Burton, the Board Member liaison to the ACC, briefly described AMTE resources to help members and affiliates improve their advocacy efforts. Soon after, participants broke into two groups based on needs they had suggested before the conference. Dana Franz and Colleen Eddy led one group in a discussion about advocacy efforts and needs. The discussion centered on changes that had occurred in states without the input of affiliates and their members, and shifted to ways that other affiliates had garnered the attention and respect of policymakers before decisions were made. A key idea was the importance of public relations and building relationships with policy makers before decisions are made.
The other group, led by Jean Lee and Erin Krupa, discussed ways affiliate leaders could engage their members in authentic and meaningful involvement. Participants described ways to increase attendance at affiliate conferences, and ways AMTE could help them increase membership. Essential to this conversation was the idea that affiliate leaders need to reach beyond their current membership and communicate with colleagues about the organization, opportunities, and AMTE.
The goals of the ACC are to communicate with affiliate leaders and to support them in their efforts to improve the work of their affiliates. In the past year, the ACC has conducted a survey and a GoToMeeting with Affiliate leaders to find out what needs affiliates have and help them. Under its new Chair, Colleen Eddy, the ACC will continue to reach out to affiliate leaders, helping them be aware of valuable resources provided by AMTE, and helping them make connections with each other as valuable resources in strengthening their affiliates.