When I reflect on the experiences that shaped me professionally and personally, ASQ is very near the top of the list. From the first section meeting I attended in Richmond, VA (Section 1104), I felt a connection with the people there, many of whom are still dear friends to this day. As with many new members, I initially joined ASQ for the Certified Quality Auditor certification. Another colleague and I from my company joined a study group informally put together by a few section members to prepare for the exam. After passing the exam and receiving the certification, I quickly realized that to maintain it, without taking the test again, I needed to get involved.

My first member leader role was membership chair. This provided an easy way to get to know people very quickly. The traditional dinner meetings opened my eyes to the broad scope of topics within the quality profession, as well as to new local restaurants! Each meeting presented an opportunity to reconnect with existing friends and to reach out to new attendees to share the hospitality and welcoming afforded to me when I walked in the door unsure of what to expect from a room full of strangers for the first time. As the years progressed, I took on other roles including the Chair position, which enabled me to participate in the most wonderful ASQ event, WCQI.

Attending the Member Leader Events at WCQI was enlightening. Finally, I was able to understand the nuts and bolts of how ASQ works, the internal organizational structure, the difference between sections and division, governance, etc. Visiting the different Division booths in the exhibit hall allowed me to network with the technical communities, ultimately finding another sense of belonging with the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Division where I served in many leadership positions including Chair. My ASQ family started growing in leaps and bounds between my home group in Richmond and our region, the FD&C team and the multiple cross connections with other divisions and sections and ASQ Head Quarters personnel. The personal connections established over the years are part of the reason I even considered running for the Board of Directors representing Technical Communities position a few years ago. There is almost always someone I know at every ASQ event I attend, and these events allow me to re-connect with those I haven’t seen in some time. Some of these connections also supported me professionally. For example, I was able to engage a consultant resource needed in my regular job and was able to connect a person in need of a job with someone whose company was hiring.

Serving in ASQ Member Leader roles enables one to develop skills that can easily translate to improved chances for career growth beyond what a company is sometimes able to offer. For example, serving as treasurer of a section or technical community helps practice developing a budget, preparing financial reports, and demonstrating fiscal responsibility to the society as a whole. Committee chair roles such as membership or event planning allow an individual to meet new people, to practice their communication and organizational skills and to establish a social and professional network. While part of the Richmond section we had an opportunity to work with a local charitable organization to revamp their donations operations using 5S and lean principles. Many of the participants did not have an opportunity at their full-time jobs to practice these skills. This project was actually presented at WCQI one year during Member Leader events. Having fun is also a huge part of ASQ engagement. Every local, regional and national meeting provides an opportunity for shared meals, catching up over coffee, participation in a service project or a social activity.

Through many years of service to ASQ and the member community, I have a chance to give back to those coming after me, as those who walked before me did. Serving as a mentor or a resource for new members with questions is a gratifying and fulfilling role. It is critical to create a sense of belonging for new members as we know ASQ and many other professional societies struggle with member retention. A personal connection with someone at an ASQ event can often be the difference between growing our membership, retaining our current members, or losing those who no longer find value in their membership.

Currently I am serving on the Board of Directors and continue to feel like I still belong at ASQ and can make a difference, even a small one. Please make the effort in 2024 to increase your level of engagement with the ASQ community in any way you can. We appreciate you and value your contributions.