Throughout my life, I’ve belonged to many organizations and clubs—from soccer teams to school clubs, trade associations, and national advocacy organizations. These experiences have provided various lessons around what it means to belong to something bigger than myself, and how “membership” can be completely different depending on the group context, norms, policies, and practices.
For over 20 years, Center for Health Progress has been a membership organization because we’ve always known that our collective power is greater than the sum of its parts. Over this time, our members have been critical financial supporters, as well as invaluable advisors and allies of our strategy. We’ve also tried to constantly examine our membership program, asking critical questions like: How are we accountable to our members in our work? What is the right level involvement of our members in our decision-making and strategy development? Do our organizational values align with the values of our members? These types of questions have been essential to understanding what it means to be a membership organization.
As we’ve evolved into an organization that aspires to center equity in all that we do, we’ve taken an even more critical look at our membership program. We’re now asking questions like: Do our members include people who are affected by the issues we work on? How much power do our members truly hold in our organization? What internal norms, policies, and practices need to shift to center grassroots members in our work? These questions are not easy to answer and the shifts that are needed to becoming an authentically grassroots, member-led organization take time and resources. This year, we’re taking steps down that path.
In our new strategic plan, we set a goal of having grassroots leaders as partners at the table in 2020 when we develop our next strategic plan. We revamped our membership program to be more accessible to individual community members and our community organizers are hitting the streets in Pueblo and Fort Morgan recruiting folks to join us. And, we plan to take a look at our bylaws to think through how we can institutionalize the leadership of grassroots members moving forward.
Of course, while we explore these changes, we remain excited to continue to strengthen partnerships with our existing members, both new and old. We hope you'll consider renewing your membership today! May is always the biggest month of the year for our membership, as we hold our Annual Meeting. It’s our chance to officially thank our members and partners, share our current strategic priorities, celebrate outgoing board members, and have our members elect our new Board of Directors. This year, we’ll also be joined by special guest, Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, who will share a few remarks. We’ll be paying special tribute to three of our longest-standing board members as they end their service, including our outgoing chair, Sharon Adams, Dr. Carl Clark, and our founder, Dr. Gary VanderArk. I hope to see you on May 15th as we celebrate the accomplishments of these incredible individuals and look forward to a future where we’re all working in partnership toward health equity.