Dawn Thomas takes the reigns and begins new era
Campus card technology, and its evolution, is also central to one of Thomas’ hopes for the Association. “Something that’s important for NACCU, and something that I would like to see, is for us to provide more expert information on emerging technology and assist that with connections and collaborations that we develop,” she explains.
Changes for NACCU
“Looking at it from 30,000 feet, change is inevitable,” says Thomas. And while speculating about possible changes to NACCU is still a bit premature for the newly appointed Executive Director, Thomas does have her eye on some emerging trends.
“One of the things that’s out there on the fringes is that this industry has been around for 20-25 years as we know it as NACCU,” Thomas says. “So a lot of people that started out in card management years ago in the early stages of the industry may be transitioning into retirement, and there will be a larger influx of new professionals coming in to fill these roles.”
Industry-wise that’s something that we should at least be aware of, says Thomas. “As it pertains to the future, I think that our members may change at a more rapid pace than they have before, because there are quite a few that have been with us since the beginning,” she adds. “That may be something for us to manage in the coming years.”
To tie things together, as new campus card professionals come into the industry it will be vital to gather their thoughts regarding what they want and need from their Association. NACCU, Thomas says, intends to be abreast of the changes in new professionals and remain agile to their needs. It’s a process that will begin almost immediately.
A new challenge: many people that started out in card systems in the early days are likely transitioning into retirement, and there will be a large influx of new professionals coming in to fill these roles.
“Starting day one, I’ll be developing relationships with the current staff, and working with the board to define the goals that we would like to see realized so that we can continue to move the Association forward,” Thomas explains. “There’s a strategic plan that guides this, but I think that our goals need to stay fresh. We also will consider the thoughts of current members to find out what they want and to define best services via an omnibus survey.”
In general, regardless of the type of company you work with it’s always important to talk to members to see what can be refreshed, says Thomas. “Initially, I’m not in a position to say that we need to change things. I feel it’s important that, as I come in, regular updates and info be shared,” she explains. “Again, from 30,000 feet, it’s important to say ‘here’s what I’m seeing, here are some opportunities, and these are some potential collaborations that I think we can establish.’”
In particular, Thomas sees opportunities to connect and align with other industry associations like NACUBO and NACAS, for example. “I think tapping into those other entities, and collaborating with them, will only serve to increase the social capital of NACCU,” she says.
The road ahead
As for the much-maligned job interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years? Thomas has a vision.
“I think that if NACCU is doing the job that it has always done, which is paying attention to what members want, then the Association will be in good stead. But I also believe that you should never rest on your laurels,” she says. “The members are the association. The programs and technology may change, but so long as that focus remains central, the longevity of NACCU will continue. I want to keep that focus.”
It’s the goal of every association to provide and enhance services to its members, says Thomas. “At this juncture, and knowing where NACCU is, I know it’s important to the board to be intent on growing membership and working with industry professionals and campuses to stay on the edge of what’s evolving in the field,” she adds. “That’s all very exciting and I would hope that any Executive Director, present or future, looks to those components to help more campuses and assist with greater knowledge, networking and learning opportunities.”
And on the topic of networking and learning opportunities, Thomas attended her first NACCU conference earlier this year in San Francisco. It was an experience, she says, that left an impression.
One thing that really stands out is the work that has already been done for the development of the NACCU community and its relationships. I believe wholeheartedly in continuing that.
“I have been a member of many associations, professional groups and societies, and I can truly say that I walked away from the NACCU conference feeling like this was a group of campuses and industry professionals that were really intent on doing the best for the community,” says Thomas. “That’s not to say that there’s not competition out there, I’m not so naïve, but there were positive conversations occurring that were helping people to look at new and different ways of meeting campus needs. It was refreshing, and it was such a good experience.”
As time drew short on our conversation, Thomas made sure to drive home her excitement at beginning her time as NACCU’s Executive Director and highlighted the effort put forth before her to establish the Association.
“One thing that really stands out is the work that has already been done for the development of the NACCU community and its relationships, and I believe wholeheartedly in continuing that,” insists Thomas. “That is one of my main goals. It is vital for NACCU’s continued success and growth.”
Everyone at CR80News would like to welcome Dawn to the NACCU community, and we wish her all the best in her new role as Executive Director.