Annual Meeting Highlights Forward Momentum for Member Growth, Effective Advocacy

Annual Meeting Highlights Forward Momentum for Member Growth, Effective Advocacy
MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), addresses the association's annual meeting Nov. 3 in Arlington, Va. (Photos by Mike Morones/MOAA)

MOAA heads into 2024 with an improved focus and clear vision to better support the “people programs” of our uniformed services and to continue to attract and retain the next generation of military officers, families, and survivors as lifetime MOAA members.


“With your guidance and support, both of these goals are realistic and attainable,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), during the association’s annual meeting Nov. 3 in Arlington, Va.

Watch It on the MOAA YouTube Channel]


It marked Kelly’s first annual meeting address since taking on his role as MOAA’s 10th president. The New Jersey native spent 33 years in the Air Force, with his last uniformed job as the Air Force A-1, or deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services at the Pentagon. In charge of the service’s “people programs,” he is putting that experience to use in securing MOAA’s future as a leader in advocacy and protecting the pay and benefits of uniformed servicemembers, retirees, veterans, families, caregivers, and survivors.


“A major part of my work this past year has focused on people, relationships, and delivering member value,” Kelly said, “as well as building and strengthening cooperation with important partners in the association world, on Capitol Hill, in the administration, and within The Military Coalition.”



MOAA board members Lt. Col. Aric J. Raus, USA, center, and Col. Myles B. Caggins III, USA (Ret), right, participate in a board meeting held in conjunction with MOAA's annual meeting of the membership in Arlington, Va.


Kelly and MOAA Board Chairman Gen. Gary L. North, USAF (Ret), were in lockstep in emphasizing MOAA’s overall mission to support all ranks of all services.


“Your support is absolutely critical to represent those who cannot have that mouthpiece that they need,” North told attendees.




To ensure MOAA continues to grow and gain effectiveness, Kelly outlined six areas of focus for the national MOAA team:


1. Long-Term Financial Stability

Kelly noted the association’s well-managed investment portfolio but said MOAA needs to manage withdrawals needed to meet operating expenses. MOAA is taking steps to adjust association expenses and revenues to strengthen long-term financial position, Kelly said.


2. Growing Membership

The association has grown its ranks to more than 363,000 members as of Sept. 30. This boost is attributed to factors like a new MOAA booth for events, increased outreach, ambassador activities, improved member services, strong marketing campaigns, and partnerships with service academy alumni associations and USAA.


“We expect this number to continue to grow through the end of the year,” Kelly said, adding that current members are a huge help. “The more you share the value of membership with your colleagues, the stronger MOAA becomes.”


3. Maintaining Key Advocacy Positions and Mission Focus

Kelly has spent much of his first year at MOAA on Capitol Hill.


“Since becoming your president, I’ve had excellent meetings with key members from both major parties and congressional staff,” he said.


Kelly in July also spent time with the new House Armed Services Committee’s Quality of Life Panel, tasked with examining the hardships military members and their families face today.


MOAA is preparing for another Advocacy in Action campaign in the spring, bringing in chapter leaders from across the country to engage with members of Congress in support of our advocacy agenda.



MOAA Board Chairman Gen. Gary L. North, USAF (Ret), addresses the association's annual meeting Nov. 3 in Arlington, Va.


4. Chapter System Viability

By the end of 2023, staffers, board members, and other national MOAA representatives will have made 125 council and chapter visits across the country. In total, the chapter network includes 34 councils and 350 chapters (including six virtual chapters) for a total of 37,000 members.


Kelly noted a recent quarter saw the first increase in chapter members in some time — a positive sign for future growth. While just over 9% of the total membership are chapter members, Kelly said they are often “our most active and enthusiastic members.”


5. MOAA Foundation Stability

The MOAA Foundation and the MOAA Scholarship Fund make up MOAA Charities. The MOAA Scholarship Fund, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, continues to provide valuable educational assistance to the children of officers and enlisted members, distributing more than $7.5 million in grants and interest-free loans to nearly 800 students last year. The MOAA Foundation is still in its infancy, but is a positive example of how MOAA serves all ranks through efforts like its Crisis Relief program, supporting veteran and currently serving families when they need it most.


In the past year, MOAA distributed more than $90,000 worth of Community Outreach Grants to 46 chapters to facilitate positive work in local communities.


6. Strengthening Brand and Reach

MOAA must share its story beyond its membership, and continue to evolve to more effectively communicate our stories and needs with Congress, DoD, the media, and the American public. We recently launched a new Advocacy Update video series on our YouTube channel, and we continue to grow our social media channels. Performing well with members and prospects this year is our popular webinar program, which had attracted more than 21,000 participants to more than 33 events as of Sept. 30.


“For me, challenges always inspire new energies,” Kelly said. “And I’m grateful to be working with such an impressive group of board of directors, headquarters team, and dedicated volunteer leaders in our chapter system.”


MOAA member Col. Dan Blum, USA (Ret), of Virginia, decided to attend the annual meeting in person this year and said he appreciated hearing the message of unity MOAA delivered in advocating for all ranks.


“We’re one military,” Blum said. “And in the era of the continuing challenge of recruitment, how do we reach out and connect?”


Kelly outlined one major initiative MOAA is exploring for 2025 — a possible “people conference” that could bring currently serving military members together with government  contractors and service and VA leadership and focus on ideas, programs, and technologies to support and sustain the all-volunteer force.


Maj. Ernest “Skip” Bebernitz, USA (Ret), president of MOAA’s New York State Council of Chapters, said he traveled south for the meeting for the camaraderie of fellow MOAA members. He said his biggest takeaway was the prospect of a personnel-focused conference.


“I think it can be a real boon for the association,” he said. 


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About the Author

Tony Lombardo
Tony Lombardo

As MOAA's Director of Audience Engagement, Tony Lombardo manages the content team tasked with producing The MOAA Newsletter, editing Military Officer magazine, operating MOAA's social media accounts, and supporting all communications efforts across the association.