A Message to Our Members: Seize the Opportunity

June 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

Tradition permeates AFCEA International. Our roots are in the military, an organization that many affectionately refer to as “family.” And our heritage also stems from the government—the cornerstone of every country. Intertwining these two entities is industry that supports them, provides for them and depends on them. As we look toward the beginning of a new century, information technology has become the common language between these three organizations, and AFCEA has evolved into the conduit for communication.

Our association shares another tradition—the annual international convention in Washington, D.C. Like all generations, we add our own flavor to a time-honored tradition by bringing in what is important to today’s members. This year AFCEA is cosponsoring our annual June event with Federal Computer Week. Combining our strengths adds a new dimension that can only benefit everyone.

Although many perceive the June event as a symposium or trade show, this year our hope is that members will recognize it as a prime opportunity for extraordinary dialog. The very reason our association exists is to provide our members with services and professional development.

GovTechNet International ’99 is our chance to share with members information about accomplishments and, more importantly, to get feedback from our members about how they want the association to evolve in the future. Convening under one roof affords us other opportunities. Throughout the year, more than 32,000 volunteers in our chapters do the real work that makes belonging to AFCEA a genuine benefit. We owe them recognition and a great debt. Yet, there is a broader picture; one we often lose sight of when we focus only on the association. Through member support, our organization reaches out on a larger scale.

Chapter events extend our scope to hundreds of individual communities. The Educational Foundation has helped thousands of students attain their goals. And through SIGNAL Magazine, hundreds of thousands of readers have improved their professional development. Our footprint is indeed impressive.

Although we are a large organization, GovTechNet allows members to get to know the individuals who manage today’s programs as they keep in mind the needs of tomorrow. Our executive committee members, a select team of volunteers, provide the day-to-day guidance for many AFCEA programs, often offering their views as issues arise during the year. Through meetings held at GovTechNet, our board members—the military, government and industry representatives who reflect all facets of AFCEA—acquire information from staff members about the progress we have made and help shape the future of the organization.

Regional vice presidents, another group that plays a key role in the success of our field programs, have the opportunity to meet with AFCEA staff to plan future programs. And chapter officers at all levels collaborate with other association officials, staff and each other to contribute the ideas they receive from individual members.

Because AFCEA is an international organization, the June event is a time to connect with representatives from nations worldwide. This year there will be substantial representation from chapters in Europe and Canada, enabling the association’s officers and staff to learn about the varying needs of its international members. This exchange of ideas and information enhances AFCEA’s services for everyone.

We take great pride in our accomplishments throughout the past year. But we have never been an organization that rests on its laurels. The incredible pace at which technology is changing shows us that we must prepare now for the future. Experts commenting on how businesses should plan for continued success agree that organizations—industry, governments and associations alike—must identify what they do well, continue to do it well and then improve it even more. In addition, the construction of tomorrow’s AFCEA must begin today by reaching out and determining what future members will need and expect from the association.

Finally, if we find that we are dissatisfied with what we offer today, including events, symposia or services, we not only must choose how to replace them, but also examine some of today’s best services and decide how to make them even better. GovTechNet provides our members with the opportunity to share their input on these areas. Watch for our continuing broadened footprint in the civil sector of government and greater use of the World Wide Web in communicating and servicing our members.

Those who have attended past conventions and know the incredible benefits of the event will see some new and exciting features this year. We look forward to seeing our past attendees again, and we extend a special welcome to new members and those who could not join us in the past.

GovTechNet is the premier event for you to experience firsthand the wealth of support and information AFCEA offers. As always, we invite all our members to offer their ideas and suggestions throughout the year. Contact individual departments through our web site, electronic mail, by telephone or in writing. AFCEA’s future depends on you, and it is important for us to hear about your vision for your association as we enter the 21st century.