March 2013 Cover
Volume 81 | Issue 2
March 2013

ACUI Plans 2015 Executive Leadership Transition

ACUI Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen has announced her retirement effective after the 2015 ACUI annual conference in San Antonio. There is much to be celebrated about the legacy that Herman-Betzen created during her tenure at the Central Office. There is also much to be done in anticipation of her departure.

To prepare for an effective search process and transition, ACUI President Dave Barnes and the Board of Trustees have appointed Rich Steele from the Georgia Institute of Technology to coordinate this effort.

“Rich has an extensive understanding of the Association from his past involvement, including his recent term as ACUI president in 2008–09. We are pleased that he has agreed to serve in this role as a special appointment to the board,” Barnes stated. Steele’s two-year appointment began in January 2013.

The board has considered a draft outline of initial considerations toward developing a well-considered plan for this transition, including:

  • Document the envisioned future for ACUI. Determine what kind of association leader will be required (entrepreneurial, operational expert, financial wizard, marketing/sales specialist, industry expert, educator, organization builder, etc.)
  • Finalize the position title and job description. Investigate whether the current title, described in ACUI bylaws “executive director” and “chief executive officer,” appropriately describes the position. Develop a job description based on required executive director core competencies, peer examples, and required specialized skills.
  • Confirm the location of the Central Office based on the report of the 2010 ACUI Headquarters Task Force, peer associations, staffing and financial impact, and intrinsic opportunities per locale.
  • Develop a position manifesto and related materials that describe the ACUI brand, community builders, Central Office staff, ACUI programs and services, stakeholders, Association value proposition, financial position, business plan, strengths, and contracted relationships that may exist.
  • Formulate and manage an ample search budget that exemplifies good stewardship.
  • Ensure the compensation package, benefits, and any relocation expenses are determined in advance and are competitive in the marketplace for association executives.

The process will take advantage of scheduled opportunities for face-to-face dialogue with key stakeholders. These opportunities include the 2013 and 2014 annual conferences, July Leadership Team meetings, regional conferences, and other board meetings as may be established.

The initial activity, and also the most inclusive, will be for the board to seek feedback on the envisioned future for the Association.
“The type of leader selected by the board should be based on an intentional direction for ACUI that is set by the membership.”

Steele said. “The recruitment and screening process will gain clarity when candidates and interviewers understand what the membership desires from their association.”

Steele has been asked to coordinate the following efforts related to the search process:

  • Determine the value of utilizing an executive search firm, develop an RFP, and solicit bids (if needed).
  • Map a critical path and complete the search by early 2015, with an anticipated start date of May 1, 2015 (the new leader should attend the annual conference in San Antonio, April 8–12, 2015).
  • Relentlessly pursue the right candidates through multiple channels for an impressively diverse pool that will net several ideal finalists.
  • Manage communication and protocol with candidates; arrange for travel and accommodations and host candidates as necessary.
  • Structure the interview format to reveal true character traits; involve key stakeholders appropriately (volunteers, staff, associate members) while maintaining confidentiality throughout the process.
  • Develop an in-depth transition plan to expedite the learning curve and introduce key resources; consider the value of a post-transition external review.

Regular communication through each step of the process will be made available via ACUI publications and online platforms.

Questions and feedback can be directed to