As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, no one area of business was immune, including the association industry. A radical change in interacting with members, immediate shifts on in-person events and travel, the fear of membership loss due to the economy and the structural challenges with moving entire offices to remote work put a strain on association leaders that had not been felt before. But for medical and healthcare associations another challenge was rising at the same time – supporting members clinically during a time of great unknown, and a time when it mattered the most.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, presented an onslaught of challenges to those in its path. Members in professions that were directly impacted by the virus turned to their association for answers, many of which were scarce. Association executives are used to having all the answers, or access to the experts with the answers, and in this new world there was no one for the association to turn when our members were turning to us.
Association staff are used to the culture of pitching in and doing things often outside the words on their job description. But these last few months have been different. Professionals who were once experts in a specific field with only a 30-thousand-foot view of clinical specifics now had to learn and learn quickly. The idea of silos slides away and clinical experts on staff shared knowledge and expertise with those in various other departments so members rapid fire questions could be answered accurately and quickly.
Despite the drastic increase in member needs and physical separation of a staff once together, the last few months of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought associations together like never. Working hand in hand, department, and department, issue by issue, association teams rose as one to fight and advocate for members against a formidable foe.
As Vice President of Operations for the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), Katherine ensures the efficient operation of NCAL, coordinating workflow, strategic planning, and internal processes. Prior to joining NCAL in December 2012, she was on the Corporate Marketing & Communications team at Sunrise Senior Living where she managed marketing and communication initiatives. She has also worked as a public affairs manager for the American Health Care Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and in Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. Katherine is a graduate of American University’s School of Public Affairs with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government.