President's Message

Make life better for you

Judith M. Mueller
APWA President

I'd like to start off this month's column with a major generalization: that is, APWA members have shared values. While relying on generalizations is always dangerous business in a diverse society, I think that in this case I may be on target. As I travel around the country in my role as president and meet more and more members-not just the chapter elected leaders but the core members of this society-I note a common bond. That bond is improvement. Whether it be improving your community, your agency or your department, there are a lot of professional and personal efforts coming forward from APWA members to make life better for others.

But what about making life better for you? As an association, APWA is founded on the very premise of helping members achieve their highest potential and in turn helping their agencies or companies perform better. Are you personally tapping into this helpline? The first goal of the Strategic Plan is that APWA will be the members' primary gateway resource for education, knowledge exchange, and services.

APWA has an education department with a staff of five and 67 chapters with volunteer education chairs whose mission is to make adult learning programs available to our more than 26,000 members. In the lexicon of marketing, this is known as "push" versus "pull" learning strategy. In the former, APWA decides what is needed and offers the program to whoever chooses to attend. In the latter, the individual decides where gaps exist in his or her professional education and proactively seeks out a solution.

It is difficult at best to strategically guess what are the exact educational needs of 26,000-plus individuals. So, APWA needs you to help us on the "pull" front. The board and especially the headquarters staff welcome your input, your ideas, and your stated needs for new education. It is simple to correspond with them via the web site at

The motivational gurus on the speaking circuit often suggest you view yourself as a product: is it marketable, is it sustainable, does it meet the right need for the right people, can it be improved, does it create value? Now go back and put the word "you" into each of those phrases. I would like to suggest that part of your commitment to yourself and to APWA is to seek out the wealth of services and great information provided by your national and chapter association. Get involved at whatever level you are comfortable. But don't miss the many opportunities for self-advancement through education.

Associations are two-way streets. They start off small (sometimes only 20 or so members), but the concept never changes even after more than 130 years of growth. Shared values, shared concerns, and mutual commitment to one another is the cornerstone. Building on that foundation takes continual improvement and communication from all. Please make use of the benefits of APWA membership. Keep in touch with us. Let us hear from you directly (using that old-fashioned, reliable technology known as a telephone) or through the infoNOW Communities on the web site. Most importantly, please keep yourself prepared for the next advanced offering of Product #1: YOU. We can help.