Shining STARS - Indiana CPA Society Honored

By Deanna C. White

The Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) ended 2012 on a high note when it was recognized for the efforts of individual staff and for its creative and innovative accomplishments in new programming by the Indiana Society of Association Executives (ISAE) at the eleventh annual STAR Awards banquet this past December.
 
STAR Awards are designed to celebrate the achievements of the association profession and the individuals who help make that profession a success in Indiana.
 

Fostering a Creative, Innovative Culture

Paul and Kincaid offered the following tips for other associations hoping to foster a culture that values creative and innovative change while maintaining standards of excellence:

Promote a culture of creativity and innovation as an inherent part of your mission. "A culture of innovation is so important to the Society that we've identified it as one of our core values," Kincaid said. "We're always asking 'what can we do to improve in new, exciting ways; how can we make things better for our members and improve the profession as a result?' Many professional associations today find that their failure to innovate has led to irrelevance. A culture of creation and innovation is absolutely essential because that's what makes us relevant to our members and the CPA profession."
 
Embrace change, and the resistance that may come along with it, to make things better for everyone involved. When INCPAS decided to revamp their volunteer program, they acknowledged their old system wasn't broken by any means, but it could be improved, Kincaid said. That meant shaking things up. "Change was necessary and there were pains, of course. We asked some dedicated, experienced volunteers to take a break and allow some new individuals to step up," Kincaid said. "This not only increased engagement among a broader group of members, but it also allowed for a more diverse group of members to participate. Diversity of thought propelled the experience forward and benefited us all." 
 
When dealing with change or restructuring, always keep the end goal in mind  bettering the experience; bettering the organization. "Have reasons – real reasons – why you're proposing a change. Then others will know why they want to help you successfully implement the new program. You need everyone behind it or it won't succeed," Kincaid said. 
 
If you have a new and innovative program you want to pitch to leadership, always back up your idea with extensive research and established goals and metrics, and develop a sense of buy-in among membership the same way. "Our diversity programs were created out of necessity for the profession and, most importantly, backed up by research," Paul said. 
 
Sustain excitement for new programs by consistently sharing their success. "We always shared program successes with our board, leadership, and members," Paul said. INCPAS touted the achievements of the diversity programs by having INCPAS Scholars write letters to sponsors, sending update letters to stakeholders, and giving the Scholars the opportunity to address leadership about how the program made a difference in their lives. "Showcasing the successes of these programs helps members feel connected and invested in the program," Paul said.
 
Ali Paul, INCPAS leadership and outreach manager, was honored with an Individual Award of Achievement when she was awarded the Rising Star of the Year Award for her significant contributions to INCPAS and the association/not-for-profit profession.
 
Paul, who joined INCPAS in 2006, was recognized for her work to improve the association's existing programs and for developing new, innovative programs that serve as models for other organizations. In particular, Paul was honored for creating several pioneering programs to achieve the goals of INCPAS diversity initiatives.
 
According to Paul, the Society's diversity initiatives are "multifaceted and focus on recruitment and retention." The recruitment programs include Game On: CPAs in Action, a half-day career awareness program, and INCPAS Scholars, a yearlong career awareness and mentoring program for minority high school students interested in business and accounting. 
 
On the retention side, INCPAS hosts Diversity Summit, a day-long summit focusing on diversity awareness. Professionals are given steps to take to implement a diversity strategy, enabling them to move beyond diversity awareness into action and metrics to determine success.
 
INCPAS also received a STAR Award of Excellence for Innovative Membership Program in the over $750,000 budget category. The Society received the award for its restructuring of recruitment and engagement of INCPAS volunteers.
 
The Society marketed the new system as a way for members to more fully engage with their "professional home" and enrich their careers through volunteerism. The Society used a campaign of postcards, e-mails, and e-newsletters to direct members to online volunteer interest forms on the INCPAS website.
 
As a result of the success of the new system, the Society has more than 300 members actively engaged in volunteer activities, including the Society's High School Ambassador program, college campus presentations, and government outreach and legislative committees.
 
"The work these volunteers do is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the profession," said Courtney Kincaid, INCPAS membership and volunteer manager. "From project planning teams that help to organize conferences to members whose work is integral to building public confidence in the profession, our volunteers are an essential part of the organization's success."
 
INCPAS has been awarded seventeen STAR Awards of Excellence since 2001 for its focus on innovation and groundbreaking developments – including fourteen in the past five years alone. 

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