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In State of Association, Domenech Lauds Member Cohorts as Catalyst

Dan Domenech, AASA’s executive director, told 100 members of the Governing Board on Wednesday that the formation of various affinity groups had breathed new life into the association.

He credited these engagement efforts for contributing to improved attendance at the national conference this year and for having a steadying influence on the membership total. As of last week, the conference in New Orleans had 1,929 paid attendees with registration expected to surpass 2,000 owing to walk-in registrations on Thursday and Friday. That would make it the best-attended AASA national conference in more than a decade. The association’s goal this year was 1,880 attendees.

Domenech said the association also exceeded its goal for exhibit hall revenue at the conference, and he expected the final total of sponsored activities by outside businesses to reach the intended mark.

In what amounts to his state of the association address to the governing body, Domenech cited the new cohorts formed in recent years by AASA – linking such groups as large county system administrators, aspiring superintendents and school system leaders engaged in districtwide digital instruction – for revitalizing the association.

He said AASA’s continuing fund balances would allow these affinity groups to expand. He expected the addition of a group for women school leaders in the year ahead.

In his rundown of AASA initiatives over the past year, Domenech referred to the “active year” experienced by the advocacy staff, noting the three members had made 75 visits to meet members in 31 states. He said the sponsored programs of the Children’s Programs Department enabled AASA to “walk the talk … about serving the total child.” The department runs programs relating to children’s health, discipline and school breakfasts, among others.

He cited outside funders, such as the Gates Foundation and the Wallace Foundation, for boosting professional development programs.

In the area of communication, he lauded the staff of School Administrator magazine and said the work of AASA’s Conference Daily Online would expand the reach to a national audience through stories, videos and blog postings. He expected the conference this year would be catering to growing interest in social media use among administrators.

After contending AASA’s membership was “steady and growing,” he said special efforts would be made to expand members in the ranks of small, rural school districts.

Domenech concluded his remarks by telling the Governing Board, “We continue to be a highly respected group.”

(By Jay P. Goldman, editor of Conference Daily Online.)

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