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Committee On Local Section Activities: Setting A New Direction

by Martin Rudd, Committee On Local Section Activities
November 9, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 44

Credit: Image Studios/Dave Hager
Martin Rudd, chair of the ACS Local Section Activities Committee.
Credit: Image Studios/Dave Hager

For the past 10 months, the Committee on Local Section Activities (LSAC) has been engaged in a strategic planning and implementation process to develop goals and objectives that will assist the group in continuing to be of enhanced value to ACS local sections. The strategic planning process, led by leaders of the society, focused on outcomes, was decision-oriented and consensus-based, and allowed LSAC to develop a road map for the future. This is a process that LSAC found to be invaluable and one that local sections themselves could consider using to outline goals and measurable objectives for a three- to five-year period.

To begin the strategic planning process, leaders of LSAC met with the facilitators of the Strategic Planning Retreat and shared their desired outcomes. As a group, we decided that input from the local sections would aid in the development of appropriate and meaningful goals for the committee. To that end, LSAC conducted a comprehensive survey of local sections in February that requested input on a variety of critical local section/committee topics, and we used those results, as well as other data, to guide the development of our new strategic plan. Through the survey we determined that a closer alignment between local sections and LSAC to communicate best practices for planning and implementing activities as well as for the development of communications and programs using electronic and social media were key directions for consideration.

After two days of discussion and additional dialogues with the full LSAC committee, we now have a vision and mission statement that sets the foundation for the ever-changing local section landscape. The vision: Empowering ACS members at the local section level by serving as an indispensable peer resource. The mission: LSAC partners with members at the local level to promote member participation, local section vibrancy, and ACS mission fulfillment.

The following goals were developed for 2016–18 and will complement our vision and mission statements. Goal 1: Support and promote the use of technologies to address local section challenges and opportunities. Goal 2: Develop and implement a multifaceted communications plan to facilitate constructive interactions with key stakeholders. Goal 3: Provide local sections with resources, networks, and operational guidance to adapt and thrive in a changing environment.

To successfully implement strategies to help us meet these goals, we developed a new subcommittee structure. Beginning in 2016, the LSAC subcommittees and chairs (local section affiliation) are as follows: Grants & Awards (Greg Milligan, Puget Sound); Operations & Support (Tracy Hamilton, Alabama); Technology, Tools, & Operations (Jason Ritchie, Ole Miss); and Communications (Mary Virginia Orna, New York). Each subcommittee is working on their charter and is developing specific strategies to help LSAC reach its goals.

We recognize that local sections are faced with many challenges including member engagement, demographic shifts, changes in the career pathways of your members, and many others. Under the new subcommittee structure, and utilizing the guidance from our strategic plan, we will develop models that will assist local sections with building the use of social media and electronic tools into their standard operations. We are also developing new ways to share best practices to ensure that local sections are able to learn from one another as well as other volunteer organizations. I am also excited that we will be developing more robust communication channels as well as peer mentoring sessions to help facilitate beneficial interactions.

One of the best illustrations of these interactions occurs each year through the ACS Leadership Institute (the 2016 institute will be held on January 22–24, 2016, in Dallas). LSAC hosts an intensive three-day event for all local section leaders and specifically for new chairs of local sections. The weekend provides an environment for local section officers to network and share best practices with other leaders within the society. In addition to local-section-specific training, attendees are given the opportunity to participate in courses through the ACS Leadership Development System to help build skills that are useful inside and outside ACS. Registration information is available at

I strongly encourage your section to take advantage of these valuable opportunities. Even if you think your section is not ready for a robust strategic planning process, each section should, at a minimum, set a few targeted goals for 2016 and 2017. LSAC has set aside limited funds to assist local sections with attending the Leadership Institute and with hosting a Strategic Planning Retreat.

As LSAC looks to build an exciting and purposeful future for local sections, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Collectively, we can develop a local section framework that will be valued and enriching for those leaders who will follow us. ACS staff and LSAC members regularly hear from local section representatives from across the country, and I sincerely hope that will continue.

You can reach me at if you have any suggestions to assist us with successfully executing our strategic plan.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.



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