2021 – A Look Back

This post is authored by Erin Fuller,  FASAE, CAE, MPA, President, Association Solutions, MCI USA, and Chair of the AMC Institute's Board of Directors for 2021.

January 6th was a day with a lot of turmoil in the Washington, DC area. And no, I am not referencing the insurrection on the Hill that day – but rather McLean, VA, where I lugged and installed two huge air purifiers in our largest conference room, so that MCI USA could safely host the AMCI executive committee retreat. Only a year before, Montreal had been generous hosts, and we huddled around dinner tables, toasting the future of our industry. Now, I was placing extra masks at each distanced place and making sure we had plenty of hand sanitizer.

As luck would have it, spending 2021 as the chair of the AMC Institute board of directors meant that I spent as much or more time with my competitors than with some members of my actual MCI team. Due to a combination of bravery, incredibly lucky timing and the determination of a mostly extroverted community that bases our business in large part on people coming together, I spent two EC retreats, three in-person board meetings and two conferences with our AMCI community this year. Each chair looks back on what was remarkable within an organization when they serve, and I think we may be one of the very few trade organizations that had such a successful record of connecting in-person – safely.

In 2020, we were galvanized as a community and industry – between applying for PPP funding, migrating our talent pool to a remote environment, and coaching our client partners through both transitions and decisions, the happy hours and other opportunities for engagement were a true lifeline.

In 2021, this all got real. While the novelty of tapping our (much needed) cocktail glasses to the cameras as a toast quickly paled, the real need for community connection, collaboration and input remained. And so, as I think about this year that was, I have a few observations:

  • The thought leadership within the AMC community is incredibly powerful. Regardless of company size, location or focus, the willingness for our leaders to come forward and share seems to be endless. I have such appreciation for the generous, transparent, and candid observations that I have learned as a result.
  • Our future is already here. Convening emerging leaders from our companies has created so much new energy, programs and ambassadors for our companies and model. I am so impressed by what this group has done in such a short time.
  • If we build it – safely – people will come. When I looked out over a full (and distanced) ballroom in June – and then again in October – I was moved to see so many take a considered risk and invest in our collective development.

I am so proud of what the Institute has delivered throughout and beyond the Covid crisis – and the proof is in the numbers, including over 20 new members this year, 750+ participants in engagement lounges and 250 in-person event attendees.

I want to especially thank our staff team – led by CEO Tina Wehmeir – for their consistent, creative and professional work during a time of incredible change and uncertainty. To Alisha, Krista, Thomas and Susan – you make all us look good and learn, on a daily basis.

We have so much to look forward to – a continued, strong partnership with ASAE, investment and new approaches to our marketing strategy, exciting new professional development opportunities to truly connect our talent with our business objectives as well as our client missions.

It has been an honor to serve our community over the past year – and I would like to thank my fellow Board members for their own service, including their investment of time and treasure in attending meetings, supporting our active committees, and contributing to our future strategy. I would also like to thank those that lead and serve on our committees. And of course, a shout out to all that became accredited firms or renewed their investment in our industry standard.

And, as I move into the best-possible role in associations – that of a past chair – I want to thank my predecessor Bennett Napier and welcome my good friend Mark Engle into the chair role in a few weeks.

As I close out this leadership chapter, my outlook for our industry and model continues to be bright. We, of all people, know that the impact and ROI from any organization is the amount of energy and commitment we put into it – and so I encourage all of you to remain involved, connected and continued champions of our model. I wish all of you a rewarding 2022.

Erin Fuller,  FASAE, CAE, MPA
2021 Chair AMCI Board of Directors


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