In my April 2016 message, I wrote about what ASSE’s board of directors has been doing this Society year. Our key initiatives have included analyzing ASSE’s core competencies, calibrating our strategic priorities, and developing a plan to advance the OSH profession and help our members succeed.

As ASSE moves forward, I am confident that the board will continue to provide the oversight, resources and direction necessary to fulfill our mission. But there is another key piece of this process—the ASSE employees who oversee the Society’s day-to-day operations. This month, I would like to share with you some significant changes on that front.

A few months ago, executive director Fred Fortman left the organization. As a result, for the first time in 17 years, ASSE’s board needed to select a new executive director to provide staff leadership. Given the pivotal role this position plays in ASSE’s success, our goal was to find an individual who could help take the Society in a new direction, align staff resources with ASSE’s strategic priorities and ensure that ASSE is fostering a positive work environment.

As it turns out, we did not have to look far. We named Dennis Hudson, ASSE’s director of professional affairs, to serve as our acting executive director, and he quickly became our top choice to fill the role permanently. So, on June 1, 2016, we will usher in a new era of leadership when Dennis officially becomes ASSE’s seventh executive director since 1911. We are confident that the Society will benefit with him at the helm.

As background, Dennis came to ASSE in 2007 after having spent 10 years as EHS director and senior environmental counsel at Sears Roebuck and Co. At ASSE, he has been the liaison to the Council on Professional Affairs, overseeing initiatives related to academic accreditation, government affairs, ethics, professional recognition and intrasociety outreach. Dennis has also been a driving force behind ASSE’s value of the profession activities, the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, the OSH capability framework and the Risk Assessment Institute.

One of his first priorities as ASSE’s new executive director is to ensure operational alignment with the Society’s four key areas of strategic importance: member communities, professional development, standards and the value of the profession. This is a critical process. For ASSE to truly move forward, staff efforts must effectively support these strategic priorities. With all 72 employees working together toward the same objectives, we can execute faster with more agility and adaptability when it comes to meeting member needs.

To best achieve that, we reimagined how work is done at ASSE and reorganized some work groups and staff assignments.

·         Kim McDowell and her team continue to oversee local chapters and regions, and are now responsible for the practice specialties as well as for ASSE’s customer service department. In addition, ASSE’s professional and global affairs team now oversees the common interest groups. These changes will help ASSE engage more people across our diverse member communities.

·         Dewey Whitmire continues to lead our professional development group, which develops industry-leading educational conferences and is expanding the Society’s virtual and global education portfolio. 

·         Tim Fisher and his group are now focused primarily on standards and expanding ASSE’s leadership in standards development. Tim’s group manages ASSE’s technical publications program as well.

·         Dave Heidorn leads the newly formed Public Affairs and Communications group, which aims to better integrate the efforts of the government affairs/policy, public relations, social media and communications staff.

·         Micah D’Orazio and her team are responsible for marketing all Society programs and services, including education, membership, standards, technical publications and insignia items.

·         Mary Goranson is now director for the ASSE Foundation, our charitable arm that supports scholarships, grants and research, all of which help advance the profession.

·         Bruce Sufranski and his group remain diligently focused on monitoring ASSE’s financial results and investments to help ensure a strong future for the Society.

To move into the future, we have the right people in place, and we are working effectively to align goals across the organization. ASSE’s volunteer leaders and staff directors are committed to fully engaging the Society’s employees to ensure high levels of commitment, passion and performance. We want ASSE to be a great place to work. ASSE employees, and the members who benefit from their superb efforts, deserve nothing less.