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Leading During a Pandemic: A “Right Now” Mindset

The time for strategic discussions about delivering value to members will come soon enough

“Meet your members where they are” is a common phrase in the association community. When I spoke with Beth Brooks, CAE, last week, she embodied a newfound need to take that phrase literally.

As the CEO of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians (TCEP), Brooks had become the sounding board for front-line medical workers who desperately need personal protective equipment. And helping with the problem has meant hitting the road herself. “I’m ferrying donated PPE to our doctors that I can drive to,” she says.

The change in “business as usual” at associations as a result of COVID-19 goes well beyond dealing with events contracts, payroll, and dues renewals. It means figuring out how to communicate with members who are often too overwhelmed to even think about your association—and to play a meaningful role in their lives in a crisis. In addition to gathering what PPE the association can, TCEP has been alerting members to support that companies are providing to healthcare workers—discount car rentals, free hotel rooms—and promoting local efforts to coordinate childcare and grocery shopping.

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