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December 1, 2008


What's up for Trade Associations and Non-Profits in '09? Join us tomorrow morning at the National Press Club: former Homeland Security Sec'y Tom Ridge, Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein, and Fight Night founder Joe Robert; forecaster Steve Fuller; and a panel of luminaries from numerous business sectors (including NFIB's Todd Stottlemyer). 7:15-10:15 AM. Last chance to sign up!


Are Standing Committees a thing of the past—replaced by more nimble, temporary task forces and panels? That's a view of the world we heard from Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologies' CEO Barbara Byrd Keenan. She sat down with us at her 1025 Connecticut "office away from her office" to tell us how she now handles hot topics on the minds of her 20,000 individual members.


To achieve its mission of advancing the science of food (thus contributing to healthier people everywhere), and make the most of more than 200 volunteers' time and expertise, this past summer's annual meeting in New Orleans called for the new task force strategy. The board identified strategic goals, and volunteers are recruited based on their interests and expertise as identified in a questionnaire. The results have "energized and engaged" volunteers, who have typically responded within 24 hours. Instead of volunteerism dying, Barbara says, "Smart volunteerism is rising."


Don't blame Barbara for looking like a magician in the last two pictures; we coax our photo subjects to look animated. But in some sense she is a magician with her organization, producing great new results with her approach. She says in the same way a corporation has "business units" to support its products, associations need to explain clearly what their contribution and time-frame will be. This keeps the strategic plan as the organizational driver and helps to prevent duplication of volunteer efforts. After the work is done, the group is sunsetted and the members are thanked with a letter that outlines the impact of their work.


On the publications front, IFT "Expert Reports" cover topics like anti-microbial resistance that are used by government agencies to make regulations. Employees at big member companies like Purdue and Cargill also gobble up this stuff (sorry, we're still in Thanksgiving mode), and not just in the U.S. IFT partners with the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology for joint educational summits every other year. Barbara is even working toward having the IFT's monthly magazine, "Food Technology" translated into Chinese and published quarterly in China, where her counterparts think it will be an industry leader.

Arent Fox
Cardinal Bank
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