Editor's note: From the Archives is a special section of the digital Synergist that brings previously published articles to our current audience. As AIHA prepares to launch its first Body of Knowledge at AIHce 2015, The Synergist presents an excerpted version of then-AIHA President Barbara Dawson's article "Focus on the Future" from the February 2014 issue to remind readers about the origins of AIHA's future-focused initiatives.

It’s somewhat astonishing to think that AIHA is older than the vast majority of its members. Few of us have lived in a world that did not have AIHA, and it’s a tribute to the men and women who founded our association that the seed they planted in 1939 has not only grown and endured, but thrived.
Of course, no organization lasts 75 years without overcoming obstacles. It is to the immense credit of everyone who has volunteered for this association that AIHA has adapted to the various challenges placed before it and has succeeded—probably beyond most of our founders’ imaginings—in shepherding the industrial hygiene profession into a new century. 
But as gratifying as it is to reflect on our rich history, we must be mindful of our obligation to the future. Although we have great cause to celebrate our founders in this anniversary year, the best tribute we could ever pay them would be to do what we can to ensure that the organization they created is still flourishing 75 years from now.
To that end, [in 2013] the AIHA Board of Directors approved six recommendations intended to ensure that AIHA has a sustainable stream of resources to protect worker health far into the future. The recommendations are:
  • develop an organization-driven content strategy
  • align resources to support career efforts
  • convene a scientific summit of like-minded, science-based organizations
  • create “personalized” premium membership benefits
  • create science-based content collaborations
  • create an improved support system for AIHA’s local sections
I’m pleased to report significant progress in the first of these areas and to give Synergist readers a glimpse of the innovative ways AIHA is responding to changes in the external environment.
A DEEP DIVE INTO CONTENT The Board’s first recommendation for securing AIHA’s future is to develop an organization-driven content strategy. Such a strategy will help AIHA determine which products members need for professional growth, and achieve our broader goal of protecting worker health. The strategy will ensure that all of AIHA’s products and services stem from the same set of organizational priorities.
In November 2013, the Board solicited applications from AIHA members for a Content Portfolio Management Team (CPMT). The CPMT’s role is to make proposals to the Board in the following areas:
  • assisting in the development of the AIHA content strategy
  • identifying new content areas for development
  • updating existing content
  • archiving content
  • improving the execution of AIHA’s content strategy
These areas are self-explanatory. The CPMT will play a vital role in identifying trends and emerging issues that affect the industrial hygiene profession and around which AIHA should develop new products and services. Over 75 years, we have accumulated a tremendous amount of first-rate publications and other products, so another of the CPMT’s critical tasks will be to periodically assess existing content and make suggestions about which products AIHA should spend time and money updating. Equally important, especially in this time of tight budgets and limited resources, is having a mechanism for deciding which content in our portfolio has reached the end of its life cycle and is ready for archiving; the CPMT will be counted on to help identify this content.
PRACTICAL CAREER GUIDANCE Industrial hygienists’ professional needs change over time as we move out of entry-level positions and gain new responsibilities. In an acknowledgment that AIHA must become more attuned to our members’ career development needs and offer appropriate support for each stage of their careers, the Board adopted a recommendation that AIHA align its resources to support career efforts. This recommendation is related to our content strategy (PDF). Moving forward, AIHA will ensure that all products and services take the various IH career stages into account. NEW OPPORTUNITIES Over the next few years, AIHA will continue to develop our content strategy and enhance our focus on career stages, while moving forward with the remaining recommendations adopted by the Board. One planned outcome of these efforts will be the creation of new opportunities for AIHA volunteers.
As I mentioned in my August 2013 column, AIHA is extremely proud of its vibrant volunteer network. We have some of the very best, most dedicated association volunteers in the world, and that’s not just my opinion. The selfless dedication of AIHA volunteers has been established by a landmark study conducted by the American Society of Association Executives in 2008. (For more information about this study, see the article “The Volunteer Experience” in the January 2009 issue of The Synergist.)
The Board knows that preparing AIHA for the next 75 years requires us to better leverage the passion of our volunteers. We need to use our volunteers in better and different ways than we have in the past, and to provide opportunities of varying scope and duration so that more of our members have a chance to contribute. AIHA is fortunate to have so many members with strong altruistic beliefs who are dedicated to protecting worker health. Finding ways to bring more of you into our volunteer network is critical to our future success. TURNING THE PAGE I am fortunate, too. Working with the Board over the past few years has helped me develop a deeper appreciation of AIHA’s past, and the recommendations I’ve discussed in this article are the bridge to our future. Although our profession and our association have achieved a great deal over the last 75 years, we’re just getting started, and greater successes await us. Barbara Dawson, CIH, CSP, is currently past president of AIHA and occupational health competency leader at DuPont in Wilmington, Del. She can be reached at (302) 774-3985 or barbara.j.dawson-1@usa.dupont.com.
thesynergist​ | FROM THE ARCHIVES: February 2014
Focus on the Future ​AIHA’s Path to Sustainability BY BARBARA DAWSON