Thought Leadership Thursday
Inaugural Message from NAST’s 2021 President Kelly Mitchell
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
I am excited to assume my new role as president of NAST - the association I consider my professional home and family. I am honored by your faith and trust in me to lead this organization as we shift from stay-at-home orders to the promise of vaccinations so we can all be together again as soon as possible. Past presidents, most recently Deb Goldberg, David Damschen, and Beth Pearce, set a high bar of what it means to be a leader of peers.
I have reflected on what I hope to accomplish this year, and am sharing it with you, our valued members, so eleven months from now I can report back on our collective actions. I studied the current Strategic Plan and noted how forward thinking we were when we agreed that NAST will be the nation’s foremost authority for responsible state treasury programs and related financial practices, policies, and education; with a goal to promote member education and distance learning. Furthermore, the plan calls for NAST to "develop, make available, and implement best practices and programs that materially assist Treasurers and their constituents in their states."
To that end, my first goal is to continue to build on our communities of practice. It was just a few years ago that we eliminated individual dues for additional staff in Treasury, Network, and Corporate Affiliate offices. Now, for one membership rate, everyone in your office is a member! Also included are related agencies that manage college savings and ABLE plans, debt service, financial education, and unclaimed property. I want NAST to be the place where public financial officials come for their professional learning and networking with the end result of stronger state offices.
To assist, the NAST Foundation recently voted to fund a workforce study of public finance professionals in both the public and private sectors. The purpose of the study is to better understand the composition of today’s public sector workforce, to identify the types of education and skills that make people successful, find and recruit applicants who will become leaders in the field, and retain these professionals during their careers. We have heard the concern that there is a vulnerability in our offices due to the high number of retirements and a pipeline challenge to replace retiring employees and their significant experience and knowledge.
One way to assist with this knowledge transfer is for increased networking, mentoring, and file and document sharing. For example, this past December NAST held a call for IT staff to talk about internal treasury management systems. Their enthusiasm in sharing draft RFPs, best practices, and other tips for the bidding process is exactly in NAST’s wheelhouse of making these connections and I am encouraging more of this. Not only does this help our members work together to identify shared needs, but it allows our Corporate Affiliates a better understanding of our needs and how they can help meet those needs.
My second goal is to continue our trajectory of inviting and welcoming new participants into NAST. One of the positive effects of moving last year’s conferences online was the significant increase of new attendees. Over 40% of attendees at TMTS and the Fall Forums were first-time, but how do we keep that up once we go back to in-person events? I’d like for NAST to explore hybrid educational models so we reach deeper and wider into Treasury and related offices. NAST demonstrated this past year that it is nimble and responsive, and I have the highest expectation it will remain so this year.
I would love to hear from you. What can we do this year that will make your work more effective? What keeps you up at night that NAST can help solve? What new skills might your staff need that NAST could provide? We are only as strong as our collective efforts and I ask you to join me as we pursue these goals.
Again, thank you for your confidence in me. I look forward to a highly productive 2021!