I’m writing this post as the 70th Annual Conference of ASPA comes to a close. The conference has been a most rewarding and exceptional experience. The commitment and participation of our members, sister organizations, and other stakeholders have made this conference rich in content. Also, during the conference I sensed the strengthening of ASPA’s “community”. We were especially ‘spirited”! I felt a sense of community, which was vibrant and infectious! I have a renewed commitment to do what I can to capture and sustain this momentum. As our new ASPA President Meredith Newman expresses it — ASPA is on the Move…….
For me, there were many memorable experiences during the conference. However, a few stand out. For example, during the National Council meeting our new Student Director Jose Irizarry was reticent, wanting to listen and learn. However, with encouragement, he spoke – and when he did, he expertly articulated his plans for fulfilling this new role for ASPA. I sat amazed, and thought that the future of ASPA will be in great hands if we only remember to nurture the Joses within ASPA.
Another highlight for me was the Stone Lecture presentation by Richard Stillman, our PAR Editor. He took us on an intellectual journey that was a thoughtful reflection of PAR at 70. He passionately explained why PAR mattered yesterday, as it promulgated generalist administrative ideas; why PAR matters today, as it sustains our generalist profession in today’s niche-oriented landscape; and lastly, why PAR matters for the future, as the platform in the field of public administration for the expression of “ideas”, both academic and practitioner in focus. In hearing this presentation, PAR became not just a publication, but a living legacy to honor and uphold.
The Social Equity Luncheon provided another special experience for me. The recognition of Alvin Brooks, and his decades of public service, was inspiring. Each year I find the Social Equity Lunch (as well as all our recognition programs) speaks to me emotionally. This is because hearing about the sacrifice and achievements of those who toil each day in the service of others brings the “why” factor to our intellectual pursuits.
Finally, I participated in Meredith Newman’s leadership meeting. The participants of this meeting were those volunteers who will serve ASPA during her term. What amazed and inspired me, was this - Meredith asked for those in the room to stand, as she listed various volunteer positions they held, for example chapter president, national council member, section chair, etc. I was bowled over by the number of people who stood multiple times – four or five times!! For me, this was such a demonstrative expression of the dedication and commitment our members have to ASPA. They serve continuously, and always respond when asked to do more. And so, for 2010/11, here they were again – ready to give back to ASPA, and the field we love!
So, for me the conference was a reaffirmation, an inspiration, and a rededication to serve with vigor, and the force needed to continue to move ASPA forward!
ASPA Executive Director