By Melissa Bank Stepno
Reflection and Current State
As I reflect back on the past two years, I can candidly say that it has been a difficult run for Apra — though there is much to be optimistic about and plenty to look forward to.
As we turn the corner to 2022, we acknowledge that Apra sustained significant financial losses in 2020 and 2021, and we are projecting another loss this year. In the midst of the pandemic and its financial impact on our members, we shifted from in-person to virtual events. We were also committed to foregoing any dues increases in this difficult time. These factors contributed to our declining revenue.
Let me be clear, however, that even with this third year of projected losses, Apra remains fiscally sound. Prior to COVID, we had a number of years where we were able to grow our reserves; and, at the same time, we worked hard to trim expense and diversify our revenue sources. Since COVID, we have been steadfast in balancing risk mitigation, the long-term health of Apra and the short-term needs of our members. In the midst of the many challenges of 2020 and 2021, I am proud of how we are managing through this crisis.
Our commitment to Apra’s longevity is reflected in the launch of our next strategic planning exercise, carrying us from 2022-2025. This process assures we will stay relevant as the world emerges from COVID and evolves with societal, technological and economic factors. We have already begun this process and have a multi-step approach to our strategic planning, including an exercise with the current board, former board members, Apra staff and industry leaders.
Call to Action
To quote Jessica Balsam’s recent Best of Connections Editor's Message, paraphrasing Shola Richards from his keynote presentation at this year’s PD conference, the pandemic is a drain, but we continue to be each other’s fountains. With that, I would like to offer a few ways to fill your Apra fountain in 2022:
1. Invest in yourself by joining us as an Apra Member.
Apra’s membership year runs from January to December. Please consider renewing your membership if you haven’t already, or joining Apra today. We are committed to serving our members and will be providing a robust calendar of year-round educational opportunities, thought leadership and content on emerging trends.
2. Maximize your membership by applying for a Professional Development Assistance Fund grant.
As part of Apra’s COVID response efforts, the Apra Foundation Board of Trustees immediately understood that professional development opportunities for our members were of vital importance, yet in many cases, those budgets were dramatically cut by employers.
In mid-2020 the Foundation established a Professional Development Assistance Fund to support Apra members experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 or other factors. Applications are accepted twice per year, submissions are kept anonymous and recipients receive $200 in Apra credits to apply toward a live educational event or any item(s) available through Apra University. Submissions are open for our initial 2022 funding cycle and I encourage anyone who is interested to apply here by Monday, January 17.
3. Attend an educational session or event.
In addition to a full host of webinars, Twitter chats, podcasts and Apra Bytes available throughout the year, in 2022 we are planning to offer six larger events spanning both virtual and in-person opportunities:
- I’m excited to share that our flagship conference, Prospect Development (PD22), is being returning in-person from July 26-29 in Atlanta. Stay tuned for more information on the agenda, content and registration in early March.
- Two Apra Fundamentals cohorts, geared to the “newbies” in our field as well as those who may have transitioned into new roles with new responsibilities. Registration is now open for the virtual winter cohort, (February 21, 23 and 25). The in-person summer cohort will be held in conjunction with PD22 in Atlanta on July 26.
- Data Science Now is a one-day in-person symposium on July 26, in conjunction with PD22. While we work on this summer’s agenda, you can read more about our 2021 symposium here.
- Apra Expanse, a brand new virtual educational offering, geared exclusively to the Data Science folks amongst us. Save the dates for March 29-30, with more information being announced shortly.
- We are bringing back our fall virtual Plug-In event this year with a focus on leadership. We are still in the early stages of planning, but keep a look out for more details as the year progresses.
4. Recognize your peers by nominating someone for an Apra Award.
Each year Apra Awards recognize four of our members through the Apra Scholarship, Margaret Fuhry, Professional of the Year and Distinguished Service Awards. These peer-driven honors give us a great opportunity to celebrate our leaders, superstars and our up-and-comers. Nominations just opened this week and will be accepted here through Monday, April 4, 2022.
5. Support your community by donating to the Apra Foundation.
The Apra Foundation’s primary mission is to fund educational opportunities and professional development opportunities for our community. The Foundation accomplishes this goal through the Professional Development Assistance Fund and through funding some of our Apra Awards.
Since its establishment in 2020, 100% of the money donated to the Professional Development Assistance Fund has been used for scholarships. In 2021, the Apra Foundation was able to award 11 Professional Development Assistance Fund grants to our fellow members and monies were used for opportunities such as Prospect Development, Apra Fundamentals and educational content on Apra University. It is simple math: the more money that is raised, the more of your peers will have the opportunity to receive a grant.
I encourage you to give what you can by donating here. You will see options to make a general gift to the Foundation or specifically to the Professional Development Assistance Fund.
For each of us, our journey is often what we make of it; I encourage each of you to leverage the breadth and depth of Apra’s offerings so that you can continue to fill your Apra fountain. While we may have hit a COVID bump in the road, I am excited to see what’s coming next and know that our future is incredibly bright.