President's Corner for November 2016

Dear Friends and Esteemed Colleagues,

I hope by now you have settled into the flow of the academic year and I imagine you are busy engaging with students, faculty, and other members of your campus community to create opportunities for growth, learning, and discovery.

I often tell people that I see our work as analogous to driving two vehicles at once. Both vehicles have the same intended destination, a barrier free environment which creates equitable opportunities on our campuses, but each is on a separate route to getting us there. One vehicle is a train, rolling towards its destination on a track which has been carefully laid down and has a prescribed trajectory. This represents the laws, regulations, policies, and processes we work with and it attempts to get us to our destination through compliance and consistency. Our work then, while not simple or easy, is to keep the train on the tracks.

The second vehicle is a boat. Its path is not fixed and it is subject to environmental forces that can generate waves and currents all around. This represents our efforts to influence campus culture and design through education, outreach, advocacy, and collaboration. Our work here, also not easy, is to guide the boat when the waters are glassy and calm or when they are tumultuous and filled with waves.

There are times when being the train conductor will require more of our attention and times when captaining the ship will require more of our attention. Regardless of what is taking our attention at any given moment, we must simultaneously take responsibility for guiding both vehicles towards their destination. Getting them both there is a challenge. It requires knowledge, skill, a commitment to access and a desire for equity.

This is all to say that I know how hard you are working and recognize the energy and dedication you put out every day. Thank you!

The goal for AHEAD is to support the great work which is happening all over the country by providing the resources, information, and experiences you need to be the best at what you do. I am hopeful that you can take advantage of some of our Spring webinar offerings slated to start in February 2017. If meeting in person is a better fit for you, our annual Management Institute will take place February1-3 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It provides a great opportunity for in-depth training on important topics. You can find all the information for the 2017 program at https://www.ahead.org/meet/conferences/2017-management .

As I mentioned in my last column, AHEAD aims to innovate and bring you new opportunities to expand your skills and expertise, so stay on the lookout for new offerings this coming year.

As you watch for new learning opportunities I also encourage you to look for ways to get involved with AHEAD both regionally and nationally. Many opportunities exist to become a leader in our field by engaging with your local or regional affiliate. Check in with them and see how you can offer your expertise for the benefit of all. In the coming year, we will hold elections for the AHEAD board of directors. If you have a desire to contribute to the organization on a national level, please consider running for a board position. It is critical to our success that we have broad participation from across the spectrum of our membership.

Thank you all for your contributions as part AHEAD and have a wonderful holiday season!

Jamie Axelrod