Friday, June 20, 2014

The President's Corner

Saluting My Colleagues in these Commemorative years

This is my first note to you from these pages as AAAED president.  I am both humbled and honored by the opportunity you have given me.  I am especially grateful for the kind words and expressions of support that have been offered to me and other newly elected officers.  From its founding 40 years ago, AAAED has been structured to be reliant upon the strength and vibrancy of its members.  Indeed, our historical organizational model is one where leadership flows from our regions and states.  AAAED is YOUR association, and there are many opportunities for you to be involved. In the days and weeks ahead, I hope to engage with you more specifically about these opportunities and how you can play a more participatory role.

Forty years is an impressive milestone considering the often short-lived history of many professional associations.  Given the nature of what we do, and given the headwinds of political opportunism and obstruction, judicial betrayal and economic threat, that we have survived these four decades is a tribute to the women and men who provided leadership for the association, in good times and bad, from its founding to the present day.  In this regard, I would be remiss if I did not take this occasion to thank my immediate predecessor, Gregory T. Chambers, for his consequential and visionary leadership these past 4 years.  He brought keen organizational insight, exercised wisdom and prudence, demonstrated foresight and judgment, and created a welcoming working atmosphere on the board to see it through some difficult challenges. Fortunately I, and AAAED, will have his continued guidance as he serves as Immediate Past President for the next year. 

We've reached this significant milestone of 4 decades at a time when we are also commemorating other consequential events, legislation, and judicial rulings that transformed the history of social justice for our nation.  As we consider our 40th anniversary, we are reminded that this also marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Last year, 2013, the nation paused to recall the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Dr. King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. Next year, in 2015, we will celebrate and remember the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the signing of Executive Order 11246.  And in just a few years, 2018, we will pause again to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act.  The profound reach and impact of these laws and regulations in creating greater access, equity and diversity in our workplaces, educational institutions and communities cannot be overstated.  While the ideal of "equal opportunity for all" that these laws and events imbued in the American body politic remain as yet not fully realized, we are indeed a more perfect Union.

In my view, it is not just simply fortuitous that AAAED is sharing its milestone of 40 years alongside these historic and consequential anniversaries.  In a real sense it was left to you, my colleagues, to take the ideals embodied in these laws and make them real and operational in workplaces and educational institutions throughout our nation.  It was left to you, my colleagues, to cajole, enforce, and monitor the implementation of these laws, so that millions of your fellow citizens would be able to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness unrestrained by discriminatory barriers.  It was left to you, my colleagues, through your daily work as EEO and affirmative action professionals, as equity and diversity officers, to transform the hope and aspirations of these laws and regulations into meaningful and vital programs that made our workplaces and universities fairer and more inclusive.  

And so, as I reflect upon these significant milestones, I believe a word, a good word, of commendation is due to you, my colleagues, for the consequential role you have played and continue to play in the further perfecting of our nation's democracy.  We still have a ways to go, and with our ever evolving understanding of diversity, we may never reach the end point of our efforts to be truly inclusive.  Nevertheless, what is clear is that the ideals and values represented by the work you have done over these past 40 years has proven indispensable as we continue this American journey to more fully become "We the people",   I salute you!

--Marshall Rose, President, AAAED

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