Veronica Cunningham, executive director, American Probation and Parole Association, answers questions from APPA member Reyna Cartagena.
What forces have changed our field the most? How has APPA responded?
When I started in this field, we had just a few tools. Technology was nonexistent, insufficient funding was the norm, and there was very little research being carried out. The tenacity of our members has led to progress. At the same time, we continue to anticipate members’ needs. Next spring, APPA will unveil a new, three-year strategic plan that will prioritize recruiting millennials; creating and fostering an online community; restructuring operations, administration, and board governance; and ramping up advocacy.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging part of this job?
The most rewarding experiences have been learning about the history of this association and getting to know staff. When I came to APPA 18 months ago, they welcomed me with open arms and accepted a challenge to do things differently. The organization’s resources are not abundant, but I am working with the board to make progress, taking on the challenge to increase membership and revenue.
What is your future vision, and how can a member like me help to achieve it?
The overall plan is to take a staged approach that involves all stakeholders—especially longtime members, like you. I invite all members to consider serving in volunteer positions, not just as board leaders but in our working groups and think tanks, both inside and outside of the existing committee structure. With an eye on reinvention, I think we all can fulfill our expectations as a first-rate professional membership association. I am convinced APPA’s best days are still to come.