Well that isn’t what I expected to happen…

If you were paying attention to the AST board of directors election which took place during CAST 2016 in Vancouver, you likely noticed I was not re-elected to the board. Even though I am no longer on the board, as of this October, this is not a goodbye letter.

I may have only had two years on the board, but I am proud of the work we were able to accomplish during that time. I feel I helped leave the AST in better shape than when I joined the board. I was, in fact, part of a board that accomplished a lot to improve the organization, even if some of it was behind the scenes.

During my time on the board, there was very little contention. Board meetings were productive, forward thinking events. In short, we got shit done. We took on some difficult tasks, cleaned up things that had been laying around for years, and challenged ourselves to look more to a future of possibilities than be mired in the ways of the past. We took actual steps to make AST an international organization.

We may not have made everyone happy, but what elected official does? Board members are the few interested individuals who are willing to step up to volunteer their time to help to make things better AND who were selected by a majority of the membership to help drive the organization forward. We cannot give every member everything they want, but we (I suppose I should start saying they soon) work with the best interest of the membership as a whole in mind. Want to see things move in a different direction? Volunteer. You don’t have to be on the board to make a difference, but you do have to get involved.

Are we where we need to be? No. After the past two years, I believe AST is in an easier to operate state than it’s been in for years. But, there is a lot of work to still be done. I really want to see AST’s current international expansion efforts take hold. We need to be seen, through our actions, to be a truly international organization if we ever hope to attract and keep international members. There are still people out there who think the A in AST stands for American.

Speaking of members, we need to find ways to attract new members, and provide them with meaningful reasons to stay members for the long term. With members come volunteers. Volunteers are the reason this organization still exists. volunteers run our BBST courses. Volunteers review and approve our grants. Volunteers update and maintain our website and other systems. Volunteers help us prepare for and put on conferences. With members comes influence. Influence to get our voice heard in the larger testing community. Influence to raise awareness of our conferences and training programs. Influence with management within organizations to approve sending people to our conferences and training. With members comes funding for our various programs.

We need to make sure CAST can compete with the current deluge of for-profit conferences coming to the US. Content wise, we are still a strong conference. Our biggest issue in the future will be convincing speakers that presenting at CAST is a big enough privilege that they will still pay their own way to get there. That, or we need to figure out a creative way to somehow pay for travel for speakers that does not ruin the atmosphere of CAST that everyone has come to expect. Sure, we could raise ticket prices, or set up a giant vendor expo, or sell our membership list, but those all go against what CAST and AST have stood for for years.

I still believe in what the AST is doing. I for one plan to continue to find ways to help the AST grow for as long as I have the energy for it.

I will always fondly remember my time working with the various board members and other volunteers during my tenure on the board, and I look forward to seeing what the new board can accomplish in the coming years.