Reflections from our 3rd President – Norma Guerra Gaier

When I stop and think about SoACE and all of the incredible colleagues and friends I’ve been blessed to meet and work with over the years, I immediately find myself in my happy place! Dating back to the very beginning of our association’s existence, I vividly remember serving on the board for SWACE on the day that both SACE and SWACE sat at the table to solidify our existence as SoACE! That was only the beginning of a highly collaborative and spirited movement that has paved the way for fruitful conversations and great memories at conferences, hot topic discussions at board meetings, and new initiatives that have helped us realize great success for our membership and for those we serve. While each group brought their own identity, conviction, traditions and passion for our work, we realized that by merging together as SoACE, we would become one of the strongest and most impactful regional associations in the country.

That year, I was excited to welcome new friends to the Alamo City, San Antonio, Texas, which was my home at the time, for the inaugural SoACE conference. It was at this conference that my candidacy for SoACE president-elect was announced on the slate with other phenomenal nominees, and it was also at this conference that I met folks from other states in our newly expanded regional association who are now longtime friends.

My time as president of SoACE, during the 2009-2010 term, is an experience that I will always hold very dear to my heart. I was surrounded by amazing leaders on the board and within our organization, who taught me so much about leadership and life. I can only hope that I did the same for them. One of the stand-out memories that I have is our conference at the Gaylord Hotel in Nashville. If you know me, you know that I have a deep appreciation for music, so hosting the SoACE Live and In Concert Conference was perfect! We had a special appearance from “Dolly” that was quite entertaining, but the biggest treat of all was a special SoACE Unplugged session that featured some of my all-time favorites performed by SoACE volunteer musicians, Charlie Wilder, Mike Phillips and Darrell Easley! That is a performance I will never forget! I wonder if we can get them to do an encore in San Antonio this year?!

Aside from my fond memories, there are a few strong pillars that I believe define SoACE:

Strength – SoACE is solid! We are strong in our membership and our contributions to the field…too many to name!

Opportunity –We provide our membership with every opportunity to network, learn, and lead. If you have served our association, THANK YOU! If you haven’t yet engaged, I highly encourage you to do so. There are countless ways you can contribute, so contact a board member to learn more.

Action – Take the initiative and share your thoughts and ideas. Many of the incredible initiatives, services and programs that are part of SoACE originated because a member spoke up and shared their thoughts…we want to hear your voice!

Connections – Reach out to others and benefit from the tremendously diverse talent that comprises our membership. Ask questions, find common grounds, challenge each other, and learn along the way!

Energy – Contribute to and feed off of the high voltage energy that defines SoACE. As our association continues to expand, I am excited to see all of the great things we will realize over the next 10 years!

I hope that our paths will cross again soon, and I definitely look forward to welcoming y’all back to San Antonio, Texas in December for our 10th anniversary SoACE conference!


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