Friday, February 1, 2013

One Giant Leap For ASSE

2012 ASSE President
Richard A. Pollock, CSP

American hero Neil Armstrong passed away last year. We remember him as the first person to walk on the moon. Armstrong also earned degrees from Purdue University and University of Southern California, and he served in the U.S. Navy and flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War. Although he made two trips into space during his career with NASA, the most memorable moment came in 1969 when he stepped off the lunar module and said,  "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" Some of you may remember the excitement, suspense and awe surrounding that moment. That step and Armstrong's proclamation brought a great sense of accomplishment and national pride.

Throughout history we have witnessed many meaningful first steps. In fact, anything worth doing always requires someone taking action. Today, I want you to do something that 's important and meaningful? Take a first step, then a leap.

During March, ASSE holds its elections. If you turn (or scroll) to p. 29 in the January issue of Professional Safety, you will see information about the candidates and the positions they seek.  Even more information (including platform statements) is on the ASSE website at

As a membership organization, ASSE depends on volunteers to lead the Society. Some members volunteer within their chapter or practice specialty, while others serve on region or Society-level committees and councils. The top leadership group is the 15-member Board of Directors, made up of regional vice presidents, council vice presidents and the Executive Committee, which is comprised of the vice president, finance, senior vice president, president-elect, the president and the executive director.

ASSE's election process is important. In the coming years, the Society will be addressing several critical strategic issues concerning ASSE's governance structure, and the path forward for our profession and those affecting your livelihood. We need our best members to step up and lead. By being informed and voting, you play an important role in deciding who will lead ASSE. It's an important responsibility of membership.

First a Step, Then a Leap
This first step is easy. Please take out your smartphone, tablet, day planner or whatever you use to keep your calendar and circle March 1. Then, note this to-do: Vote in the ASSE election.
Once you've done that, taking the leap will be easier. At 12:01 a.m. on March 1, most members will receive an e-mail containing a link to our online voting system and detailed candidate information. (Those who haven 't selected the online option will receive the information in the mail.) When you open that e-mail (or letter), take the giant leap: Cast your vote.

The reason for my earnest request is simple: Traditionally, less than 18% of members vote in these elections, and last year the percentage dropped to an alarming 11%. Some suggest such low participation indicates that members are satisfied and aren't compelled to vote. Others say members don 't know the candidates, have never voted before or believe the election is a popularity contest. I don 't buy any of those arguments.

Voting Is a Responsibility of Membership
Like volunteering, voting in the Society elections is a fundamental responsibility of membership. But as the voting returns indicate, most members feel it is acceptable to skip this responsibility. As a result, not voting has become part of the ASSE culture one of our norms.

This is a problem we must address. To do so, we must challenge our collective beliefs. With 35,000 members, it is easy to sit on the sidelines and assume someone else will take the lead. It also is easy to cite reasons many of them legitimate to justify not volunteering.

The same cannot be said for not voting. Becoming informed about ASSE governance, the elected offices and the candidates takes so little time. In fact, I 'm guessing that in 30 minutes tonight on your couch, you can learn what you need to know to cast an informed vote.

Together, we can change our culture and drive our profession and ASSE forward. Let's recognize our membership responsibilities and challenge our beliefs, then act accordingly. By doing so, we can foster a new ASSE culture of involvement. Let's make 2013 the year we all take one small step for ASSE and what very well may be a giant leap for ourselves. Mark your calendar today and vote on March 1.

 "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result."
 Mahatma Gandhi

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