After Storming the Hill, MOAA Leaders Convene to Share Progress
Col. Terri Coles, USA (Ret), MOAA’s senior director of Council and Chapter Affairs, speaks to attendees at Thursday’s Council Presidents’ Seminar (photo by John Harman/Staff)
On Thursday, after an eventful Wednesday storming Capitol Hill, MOAA leaders, board members, and council and chapter leaders convened at the Council Presidents' Seminar to discuss updates related to national MOAA.
“It's no more business as usual,” said Col. Jim O'Brien, USAF (Ret), executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We keep challenging ourselves to do things differently. This is a very collaborative organization. What we find is by connecting …. we can really do great things for the association.”
Capt. Jim Carman USN (Ret), vice president of Council/Chapter and Member Support, discussed his portfolio, which encompasses MOAA's Member Service Center, councils and chapters, and the transition team, which includes accredited financial counselors and experienced career consultants.
Then, Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret), vice president of Government Relations, broke down his team's legislative priorities. MOAA's Government Relations staff manages four to five substantive bills, while keeping an eye on as many as 20-30 bills.
[Visit MOAA's Storming the Hill Page]
“We do as much as we can to support as much as we can. I'm very proud of our team and that we're asked to help write legislation,” Merry said.
Kathy Partain, vice president of Membership and Marketing, described her team's goals. First and foremost is recruiting new members and retaining existing members.
Council Presidents' Seminar attendees received the latest MOAA updates from key members of leadership. (photo by John Harman/Staff)
“We have a national ad campaign we do every year, mostly online, and it's focused on growing awareness of MOAA,” Partain said. “The threats to benefits … there are emotional issues for everybody, and we want to leverage them in membership.”
Alan English, vice president of Communications, discussed his team's two missions: satisfying members' need for information via Military Officer magazine and driving engagement of the member experience online.
“We're talking with more people than we have before,” English said. “If we're going to attract new members, we have to look alive. Our presence [on social media] has to be strong.”
Stephanie Keuser, MOAA's chief information officer, praised the collaborative effort of her team, which focuses on cyber security, maintaining compliance information for credit card payments, infrastructure, and data solutions.
“We're focused on the website redesign and the content management system; that's a huge project and a big project we've undertaken,” Keuser said.
Col. Mike Turner, USAF (Ret), vice president of Development, highlighted MOAA's two charitable organizations: the MOAA Foundation and the MOAA Scholarship Fund. In regards to the Scholarship Fund, 1,500 to 1,700 students are receiving educational assistance, while about 3,000 or so are graduates paying back their loans.
“The mission of both MOAA charities is to provide financial support to MOAA programs and help ensure the nation's military and veteran families can enjoy the quality of life they've earned through their service,” Turner emphasized.
[RELATED: MOAA Celebrates 90 Years of Advocacy]
Maj. Gen. Joe Lynch, USAF (Ret), general counsel and corporate secretary, described the nuances of compliance with Virginia law and the various corporations under the general umbrella of MOAA, which include MOAA, the MOAA Foundation, the MOAA Scholarship Fund, and Voices for America's Troops. Lynch emphasized he wished he could give legal advice to chapter presidents and members, but that would require thorough knowledge of the laws of every state. He advised leaders of chapters, which are legally separate from MOAA, to turn to the Chapters Policies and Procedures Guide for the answers to any legal questions they might have.
Regina Chavis, chief financial officer, said, “It's my fiduciary responsibility to safeguard and provide guidance for all the financial resources of MOAA.” Chavis also described her knowledge of historical buildings, which she relies on as she guides MOAA through the renovation of its headquarters.
After the presentation of the Marvin J. Harris Communications Awards, Anne Hartline, committee chair of the Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee, discussed how to engage surviving spouses through chapters: initiating contact after their spouse's death, including them in chapter activities, requesting feedback, and appointing them to chapter leadership positions.
Col. Terri Coles, USA (Ret), senior director of Council and Chapter Affairs, announced key dates in 2019, including quarterly leaders' workshops in Portland, Ore., May 3-4; Hershey, Pa., Sept. 6-7; and Austin, Texas, Nov. 15-16. She also urged chapter leaders to enter the Levels of Excellence awards; submissions are due May 1.