by Strauder Patton, P.E. National Alumni Extension Chair
In this final message as your NSBE Alumni Extension Chairperson, I wanted to share some of my personal reflections, leadership perspectives and future expectations. 2011-12 was a remarkable year for the NSBE Alumni Extension. At the beginning of this year, our national leadership inspired a challenge to the Society that it’s time that we focus the professionals of NSBE – a group that has the most potential to grow in the Society and a group that plays such an important role in our Society’s success. Right now NSBE has nearly 6,000 professional members in the Society and we graduate over 1,500 student members a year. Which is great, but we can still do so much more to meet our potential. In response to this challenge, a National Focus was inspired by NSBE leadership that we want to emphasize Building NSBE’s Professional Brand. This year we had some great accomplishments achieve this focus and yet there were some areas that we felt short in. All in all, we can look back on this year and know that our leadership and our chapters helped to make a positive mark on our Society.
I am proud of our many NSBE Alumni Extension successes this year:
- Improving the brand of NSBE Professionals and further increasing the value of national membership.
- Improving our communications to the membership: More targeted, effective communication methods. Also, the launching of our new state-of-art national NSBE AE website in April to serve as the communication hub. The website will eventually include national news, job resources, and chapter development resources.
- Launching a joint national professional development conference in October 2012. Improving the event offerings and content for the national AE Summit.
- Record corporate sponsorship revenue and national partners for NSBE Alumni Extension which provides more resources for our programs and chapters. In addition, our members have direct career access to these companies looking for professionals. Our top 2011-12 partners included companies such as Northrop Grumman, Life Technologies, General Electric, McKesson, NASA and many others.
- Increasing our NSBE AE active chapters from 51 to 57. Seeing more chapter activity and growth in our larger cities: Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
- A new, growing national partnership with the National Urban League Young Professionals to focus on STEM in our communities.
As you can see, the NSBE Professionals brand is emerging and we need to continue to develop it so we can be the organization of choice for black technical professionals. Unfortunately, the NSBE Professionals name change did not pass this year (136-yes, 6-no, 58-absentee: Need 75% of senators in favor to pass), but I’m confident it will certainly pass in 2013. In order to achieve our 2020 Vision “NSBE to be premier organization for black technical professionals”, I feel that we still have work to do in enhancing that NSBE Professional membership value. In February, we released a survey to our membership on what it would take to increase their NSBE value and over 40% of our membership wants professional development, 30% wants chapter development, and 11% is giving back. We invest in our members and the more members we will retain, the more successful our chapters will be, the more impactful we will be in our communities and then Mission will be achieved.
2011-12 National Alumni Extension Board with Actor Boris Kodjoe
Furthermore, meeting our NSBE membership value is not just a national challenge, but it is just as important at the local chapter level. As a result, we will need to focus more on seeing our local professional chapters succeed. The NSBE experience is much more than conferences and events (in fact no more than 15% of our overall membership attends NSBE conferences). We’ve made progress to improve developing our professional chapters by removing Regional conferences so our Regional Boards can focus on chapters, hosting chapter development workshops at our conferences, and inspiring a national partnership with organizations such as the Urban League Young Professionals to promote local NSBE chapter participation. However, we don’t do the best job at giving chapter feedback (and we will improve this). Also, we need to improve on sharing best chapter practices from our strong, developed chapters like Washington D.C., Indianapolis, and Huntsville. In addition, over 35% of our NSBE members are in Africa. We need to nurture our relationships with our international chapters and help meet their needs.
Some final NSBE leadership perspectives that I would like to share with you: First, As National Chairperson, I hardly ever had all the answers, but I surrounded myself with talented people, I encouraged accountability and transparency with the membership, and I was active and hands-on with my leadership. I feel that took us far. Second, as a Society we will see better results when our actions reflect on “where we are going” versus “what new program to launch or fix”. As engineers, our first instinct in NSBE is to design a new program. There is a time and place for that. We need to maximize resources and commitment to our actions that are aligned with the vision.
It’s been a pleasure to serve the NSBE membership as National Alumni Chairperson. It truly has been a meaningful experience for me that I will never forget. I want to personally thank the all chapters and leaders in NSBE for your work this year. Congratulations to all of our National NSBE Award winners. I look forward to our future and the growing role our NSBE Professionals will have in our Society. Thanks to you all for your support of the NSBE Mission.
Strauder C. Patton IV, P.E.
National Alumni Extension Chairperson