Message from the Chair

This was first published by CSAE Trillium in their FORUM newsletter on October 17, 20217. Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE was Chair of CSAE Trillium from October 2017 to October 2018


“Innovation opportunities do not come with the tempest, but with the rustling of the breeze.”  – Peter Drucker

First of all, I think introductions are in order.

I began my association management career in February 1990 with the Ontario Restaurant Association, initially as the proverbial “manager of everything” and eventually, Manager of Municipal Government Affairs, a role I enjoyed for a couple of years.

In January 1994 I was seconded by a hospitality industry group to set up a brand new not-for-profit and to create and launch the Ontario server training program Smart Serve. In the ensuing years I worked primarily in marketing and communications and government relations for three national professional associations before I decided to take the leap, quit my job and start my own association management company, Essentient Association Management, in late 2004.

In 2016 I was instrumental in the launch of the Canadian Chapter of the AMC (Association Management Company) Institute, a trade association with over 150 members worldwide and 20 in Canada. I am immensely proud of the impactful role AMCs have in the association sector.

As I approach my 27th year as an association executive (and 13 years as the owner of an AMC) I contemplate how fortunate I am to have had such a vastly interesting and varied career. I calculate that I have met and engaged with literally thousands of members and industry stakeholders. I value the incredible experiences I have enjoyed with my associations over the years and I appreciate those who have mentored me and given me a hand up.

Since receiving the news that I would be President of CSAE Trillium for 2017/2018, I have given a lot of thought to what I plan to accomplish over a brief, twelve month period.

I truly believe that CSAE Trillium is a great organization, but in the spirit of continuous improvement it can, in my opinion, be made even better. With that in mind, the Board and I will be exploring and identifying innovations that will enable us to raise the bar even higher. These innovations may be large, or they may be introduced in small increments, but the ultimate goal will be for CSAE Trillium to further enhance the member experience.

We also continue to ensure that our strategic plan, developed three years ago, informs our work plan and our discussions at the Board table. And just in case you haven’t had a chance to review our strategic plan lately, here are our strategic priorities: 

  • Future CSAE Direction: To proactively and collaboratively position the Trillium Chapter as a leading contributor to CSAE direction, establishing a synergistic relationship to advance the member experience.
  • Knowledge Management and Content: To deliver and leverage high quality, relevant, education/professional development opportunities through multiple channels and formats, and at reasonable cost.
  • Networking: To enhance the ability of our members to connect with each other.
  • Resources: To ensure sufficient resources are available and utilized to support future growth, and to foster volunteer effectiveness.

Speaking of volunteers, where would we be without them? If you would like to be involved in your professional association, please first read our Volunteer Guide (developed by our wonderful volunteers of course) and then complete and return our volunteer application form.

I look forward to meeting as many members as I can in the coming year. Please feel free to approach me at PDX events or Summits. I’m easy to spot in a crowd. If you have an idea, a best practice or an innovation you would like to contribute, I am all ears.

Finally, thank you to the CSAE Trillium Board for supporting me in my new role. I will do my very best to be a responsible and effective leader but more importantly, a respectful steward of this organization.

Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE
President – CSAE Trillium
Twitter: @conniewrigley or @EssentientAMC