Chairwoman's Commentary: 2020 Visions

January 1, 2020
By DeEtte Gray, AFCEA Chairwoman of the Board

The future is bright for AFCEA as the association builds on its recent successes. And those successes are many.

Last year saw AFCEA running on all cylinders. Membership has grown, both in corporate and individual numbers. Corporate membership has reached a five-year high of nearly 1,700, despite mergers and acquisitions. Individual membership hit a three-year high of more than 32,000 people. Among these members is a greater number of women and minorities, and this stems directly from outreach by the association. The result has been increased representation of women and minorities among boards and committees. The Women in AFCEA group in particular has been successful and continues to grow in influence and activity.

AFCEA’s committees have increased their activities, and they are contributing more white papers and research training along with events and sponsors. Young AFCEANs, the lifeblood of our organization, continue to be active and grow their membership. Mentoring and other opportunities for them have increased and will continue to broaden in the coming year.

At headquarters, the association’s finances are not only stable but well positioned for the future. In addition to membership, successful events have provided increased revenue that, in turn, has enabled AFCEA to expand its reach. Simultaneously, AFCEA President and CEO Gen. Robert Shea and the entire team at headquarters have done an excellent job of managing costs. Additionally, the association sold its long-time headquarters building, eliminating a major overhead cost that was looming, and moved into a new rented office suite in the same area that efficiently serves its current needs.

SIGNAL Magazine continues to receive great praise and high marks for its quality content. SIGNAL Media thought leadership products are booming, and their gains show signs of continuing.

All of these events and activities have set the stage for further progress in 2020.

These many activities help give AFCEA a greater degree of relevance in this dynamic time. Global uncertainty is increasing, with the free world facing new types of national security challenges from China, Russia and small but deadly rogue nations. Many of these challenges are technology-based, and it will take technology remedies to forestall them. Capabilities such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, autonomous systems, space technologies, electronic warfare, information operations and, of course, cyber, will be the conflict points of the future.

These technologies are right in AFCEA’s bailiwick. AFCEA’s focus on the information realm positions the association to be at the heart of the most important activities determining the future of the free world and its people. Capabilities that benefit as well as menace citizens and their defenders will define the direction of the future. And AFCEANs will play a big role in determining that definition.

One of AFCEA’s strongest functions is to connect government, industry and academia. Forums, exhibitions, publications and networking meetings are vital tools for enabling dialogue and cooperation to everyone’s benefit. The association is a well-established thought leader in the national security community. Also, its ability to serve as a cooperation enabler gives it great value among solution seekers. By serving as a bridge among those sectors and facilitating collaboration among them, the association serves a vital national security function.

These points add up to an exciting role for the AFCEA community. Many important events will unfold in 2020, and the association likely will find itself at the heart of them. This, combined with AFCEA’s ongoing operations, will give members the opportunity to be a part of significant activities to the benefit of the free world. The proactive association is poised to provide even greater value to both its membership and the world at large.

The year 2019 was a great one for the organization, and I believe you’ll see the same trend in 2020. Welcome to the future.

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