September 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - August 2003

How can ASSE best meet the wide-ranging needs and requests of a membership that is generationally diverse? We must rethink everything.

2003-2004 ASSE President James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP

Generational Diversity and Synergy

Last month, we talked about a vision for ASSE's future. We noted our uniqueness as owners, customers and the workforce who must deliver the services. While that's all good in the abstract, it really doesn't define who we are. To do that, we must first recognize the broad spectrum of people-and generations-that our membership represents.

During Safety 2003 in Denver, many members stopped by the "Meet the President" booth to share their thoughts with me. Among them were Keith Haselman, Greater Boston Chapter; Jerry Krumwiede, Arizona Chapter; Larry Bailey, Puget Sound Chapter; "Armadillo" Jack Philley, Gulf Coast Chapter; Fernando Benalcazar, Ecuador (future section/chapter); Doris Burns, Great Plains Chapter; Jon Norris, Colorado Chapter; Sheryl Wiser, Central Indiana Chapter; David Boutin, Connecticut Valley Chapter; Marion Jones, Central Texas Chapter; Cindy Lewis, Gulf Coast Chapter; Cy Jakubowski, New Mexico Chapter; Brian Hitt, Northern Ohio Chapter; and Michelle Kelly, Valley Coastal Chapter. Overall, their comments were positive and constructive. They each had thoughts as to what ASSE (and they) need do to move forward. Among their suggestions: Help to form a new section in Ecuador. Provide additional outreach to establish partnerships. Offer more e-learning opportunities. Provide more information on security issues. Present virtual meetings. Offer more reality-based, success-oriented programs. Develop a list of service opportunities for retired/emeritus members.

Why so broad a range of requests? I attribute it to generational diversity. These members represented the full spectrum-pre-boomers, boomers, cuspers, busters and netsters-with birthdays from the 1930s to the 1980s, and work experience of less than five years to more than 30 years. If this is a snapshot of ASSE's membership, how can we best meet these diverse needs and requests? How do we challenge and reward those just entering the profession and looking to ASSE to provide the resources, tools and recognition for jobs yet to be well done? At the same time, how do we say thanks for many years of service to those preparing to retire who want to remain active in some way?
Generational Questions about Participation

  • Does the organization practice what it preaches?
  • Can I join on my terms and receive the benefits that are relevant to me?
  • Why should I join? Whose time is it on?
  • What will leadership/participation do for my skills-building and expertise?
  • Life is too short for meetings. Where else can I get that information?

The answer is straightforward: We must rethink everything. We must entice the younger generations, yet still satisfy those nearing retirement. We must ensure that younger generations are represented in the Society's upper levels and leadership positions. We must strategically position ASSE to recognize and handle these demands. We must better understand this thing called generational diversity, then act on that knowledge.

How do we achieve this? We must be open to new ideas. We must capture the knowledge of our most senior members by engaging them as mentors. We must learn what is relevant to our younger members and offer chapter- to Society-level programs that entice their participation. Such programs must be meaningful and interactive. Because the timeframe for engagement has been shortened, we must look to current technology to make this happen. In addition, leadership opportunities at both the local and national levels must be afforded to members at an earlier stage in their careers. We must take the time offered for service and use it well; if it takes too long to get involved, the opportunity for engagement will be lost.

By recognizing our Society's generational diversity, we can develop synergy and reduce friction. With age comes wisdom and youth generates energy and passion. The right mixture of these ingredients is a wonderful recipe for success. Have any other ideas? Send them to me at or write to me in care of ASSE headquarters. Let's talk!

James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP