Reflections from our 2nd President, Donnie Brown

SoACE Reflections

As I thought about our soon to be 10th Anniversary of the Southern Association of Colleges and Employers, the first thing that came to mind was our amazing group of members and the dedicated and passionate leaders who have contributed to our organization.

As our SoACE history recounts, “The 2007 merger of SACE and SWACE to form SoACE was the final step in the consolidation of seven regional associations down to four: SoACE, the Midwest Association of Colleges and Employers (Midwest ACE); the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE); and the Mountain Pacific Association of Colleges and Employers (MPACE). Leaders of these four regional ACEs then met twice a year to discuss and plan collaborative efforts and exchange best practices and network professionally across regions.  They now meet once each year at the NACE conference and hold 3 additional conference calls throughout the year.”

My second thoughts turned to our State organizations and Consortiums that support SoACE on such a high level.  SoACE is quite fortunate to have the excellent support of these organizations.  In addition to their support throughout the year, these organizations provide valuable assistance to our annual conferences.

As a Board member of SACE, I saw the contributions first hand of the Task Forces from both SWACE and SACE.  The members of the Task Forces who developed the strategy to merge both organizations were seasoned, thoughtful, and dedicated professionals who considered a myriad of issues in order to bring the two organizations together successfully.  Although there were far more similarities than differences, the differences were very important to the membership and our transition team discussed them in detail and developed plans that were beneficial to both organizations.

Our first SoACE Annual Conference was held San Antonio in November 2007.  The theme was “Synergy in San Antonio”.  70% of SACE and SWACE members attended the conference.  Not only was the conference a success in numbers, it was a success in bringing together the members of both organizations for the first time.  The Conference also continued the strong professional development activities that both SWACE and SACE had been known for providing their members.

Karen Thompson was our first SoACE President.  She and the first SoACE Board of Directors, comprised of leaders from both the SWACE and SACE organizations, did a wonderful job laying the foundation for our Organization.  I followed Karen as the second President of SoACE and the first Employer President, and I consider this opportunity the most fortunate benefit in my professional career.  I was blessed with strong and experienced leadership on our Board.  If you want a wonderful opportunity in your professional life, I recommend highly volunteering for leadership positions in SoACE.  I promise that you will value the experience the rest of your life

One of the major responsibilities of the President and the Board of Directors is the oversight of the annual conference.  As with both prior organizations, the conference was usually moved around the region for a lot of reasons.  The Board discussed and recommended that the second conference be held in Florida.  Since the conference was held in December, the Florida weather would provide a respite for most to escape the onset of winter.  A task force was formed to evaluate locations; although, I distinctly remember Matt Berndt indicating a strong preference when he stated, “Let’s go to Disney World”.  As it turned out Matt’s suggestion was prophetic and after vetting several locations, our second conference was held at the magnificent Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Again, I was blessed as President to have a talented group of Conference Committee members.  It was certainly an advantage to have Disney employer members in our organization.  With Kent Phillips and Wayne Hampton there to support us; how could we not have a great Disney experience?

And so, began the strong legacy of SoACE.  After ten years as an organization with continued strong leadership, I envision a bright future for SoACE in meeting the goals of the organization and continuing to provide leadership in our profession.  Congratulations SoACE and best wishes to our SoACE members.

Donnie Brown

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