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National Conference Update, 2014

Heather MacLetchie Ehinger, President-Elect

Heather Ehinger and Patrick Kennedy

Heather Ehinger (r) pictured with keynote presenter, Patrick Kennedy (l), at AAMFT’s 2014 Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI

In October, Jessica Floyd (student consultant), Michelle Triompo (student representative) and I attended the AAMFT National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The theme of the conference was brief solution therapy. The keynote speakers focused primarily on celebrating the lives of the founding mothers and fathers of brief solution therapy, as well as the many small break-out learning opportunities.

As an important side note, Connecticut’s Student Consultant, Jessica Floyd, was presented with the AAMFT Master’s Student Minority Scholarship for 2014. Congrats to her!

As Connecticut Division Leaders, Jessica, Michelle and I attended the Division Leaders Workshop – an annual meeting of leaders from the state divisions. We had the opportunity to spend time with Victor Olsen, former President of CTAMFT and current member of AAMFT’s Board of Directors.

The leadership meeting focused on AAMFT board approval of the director’s recommendation to centralize the organization and eliminate the state divisions. This announcement of the national board approval was followed by a presentation on the recommendations by Tracy Todd (Director of AAMFT), the President Michael Chafin and President-Elect Marvarene Oliver. According to their presentation the primary reason for this proposed change is the future of AAMFT is at risk of becoming “irrelevant,” thus losing substantial membership in the future. The presentation focused on the retirement of the “baby boomers” and the rise of the “millennials.”

The proposal suggests eliminating the state chapters, infusing special interest groups and giving membership a choice. This choice would allow members to participate by joining the national organization with options to participate in the special interest groups. It was explained that regional or even state interest groups may be established. This proposal was approved in hope to increase interest by the “millennials’” need for choice, thus increase their interest in being an involved member.

Overall, during the meeting and during the entire conference, there was a climate of uncertainty and mistrust, although many of the smaller states were enthusiastic about the change due to their struggles to remain productive. During the Q&A that followed the presentation, many of the states expressed their concerns and asked questions that the Board of Directors were unable to answer. Answers to many of the questions included “we will take the vote this summer and figure out the rest later.”

Our Board of Directors in Connecticut has taken notice of this important possible change. Over the next several months, we will research, discuss and plan how to preserve the important work of the CTAMFT, including advocacy, education, communication and connection.

In February, we will be sharing our findings and thoughts. Until then, please contact me (or any board member) if you have any questions or concerns.

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