The Critical Importance of Deep Leadership
By Barbara Laura, MS
This is the second time I’ve had the pleasure of working with AMCHP as its interim executive. I arrived this time in early August 2013. But my perspective on the organization goes back six years, before Mike Fraser arrived as CEO. Based on my experience, I’m going to reflect on AMCHP past to present, during the transition period, and finally into the future.
When I returned to AMCHP, I was curious to see the changes since I was last “inside.” I was happy to see some familiar faces, both on the staff and the board, and also delighted to meet the many new talented people who had come into the organization. AMCHP was now larger, more vibrant, “happier,” more visible, and more responsive and connected to its members and partners. Its commitment to learning and openness to new ideas was greatly enhanced.
I know that Mike Fraser’s leadership paved the way to these changes. He brought and shared a wealth of new ideas; he traveled extensively to rebuild and strengthen member relationships; he inspired new staff to come to AMCHP; and he infused the association with his belief in professional growth and development and lifelong learning. I also know that the changes didn’t happen because of Mike alone. Other staff also played key roles in building and reviving the AMCHP programs, funding and external presence, and in creating and embracing a new direction.
When Mike announced his departure, AMCHP board and staff leaders stepped up to the plate. The board moved swiftly to form a Transition Committee working with Mike and senior staff to lay out a plan for the interim period, so no “balls would be dropped.” A Search Committee was formed to start the process of looking for a new CEO; this group met weekly to fine tune the process, review resumes and interview candidates. On the staff level, multiple people added temporary responsibilities on top of already challenging workloads.
Throughout the interim period and throughout various challenges, things kept moving forward. Projects moved toward completion, grants went out the door, information flowed to policymakers, committees convened, and the annual conference built toward its culmination. This dynamism and ability to operate collectively and effectively at many levels, are signs of AMCHP’s vitality and resilience.
Now in just three weeks, we will see the advent of a new AMCHP leader, Lori Tremmel Freeman. She brings deep experience, skills and talents; and, as she shares those with AMCHP, the association will grow in unique ways. She also will benefit from a rich mix of leaders – staff, board and members – who are ready to partner with her. Together, they will write a new chapter.
I have told the AMCHP board that I do not expect to return – that I hope to be happily retired before they find themselves at this place again. I leave with the confidence AMCHP has the leadership – at the CEO level and at many others – necessary to thrive into the future.