It was my great honor to become the new President of our Greeting Card Association during the fabulous Workshop & Retreat in Naples in September (thanks to Susan January for making it all happen).
I have been active in the GCA for almost 15 years, and have chaired the Public Affairs Committee (because almost 60% of greeting cards use the US Mail to reach their recipient, a healthy, functional Postal Service that delivers to all Americans six days a week is vital to our industry!), the 2016 Annual Convention in New Orleans, and the inaugural Noted: The Greeting Card Expo (reinventing the trade show for our industry!) in Brooklyn this year.
I have also had the benefit of working with some great leaders in the GCA, who have demonstrated how to effectively lead our association and our members—Carlos Llanso, Christy Kaprosy, Steve Doyal, Susan January, and Steve Laserson, to name just a few. It is a tall task to follow in their footsteps (or stiletto imprints, as the case may be), but I do hope I have learned from each of them.
I am a big goal-setter, so I thought my first column as President was the place to outline my goals for my two-year term, as they will frame my decision-making and activities during my tenure:
- Increase membership
- Increase retention % – This is most important, as retained members are usually engaged members.
- New members – Prudently grow with engaged new members.
- Associates – Solidify this critical base for the organization.
- Further clarify and enhance the value proposition of the GCA – why we join and engage with the association!
- Establish Noted as THE event that greeting card publishers and retailers must attend each year, AND that breaks even financially each year – We are well on our way to achieving this goal, after our strong start and enormous investment in Brooklyn. But there is much still to do.
- Further enhance the “power” of the LOUIE Awards that are now part of Noted – increase recognition for what they are—the highest honor in the industry—and ensure that translates to retailers.
- Establish a succession plan to ensure that the Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and committees are filled with active, engaged members – Our membership has increased dramatically, thanks largely to Noted; now we need to ensure that members engage with and further develop our association.
- Establish expectations for members, including volunteering for the good of the association.
- Committee structure and responsibilities
- Discreet asks for short term contributions
- Operate within annual break-even budgets and maintain reserves that prior leadership developed, prudently deploying when needed.
These are very big goals. But it is an important time for our organization, as we have started a needed transformation of our industry and our association with Noted. With your help, we can achieve these goals and finish the job. Thanks in advance for your help—and for your patience—as I follow the footsteps and stiletto imprints of those who have paved the way.
George White, GCA President