I am both honored and humbled for the opportunity given to me to be President of CSDA for 2018. I would be remiss if I did not recognize the leadership of both Sharon Wardale-Trejo and Natalie Dillon as the two CSDA Presidents I have had the great opportunity to work closely with during my time as a CSDA Board member. You cannot begin to fully appreciate the unbelievable efforts of these two women unless you have worked as closely with them as I have. I would also like to recognize CSDA Staff, the CSDA Board of Directors and our members. Without their level of commitment and hard work, this association would not exist.
I have been in the child support program for almost 25 years and during that time, I have been the beneficiary of the great work that CSDA and past presidents have done through the years. As we begin 2018, I view my role as CSDA President as one of providing leadership for the association. One of the methods I have found to be most effective in leading people is that of challenging them to grow their capacity. From time to time, it has been my experience that in order to do this effectively, I have had to create a level of discomfort in hopes of assisting people in realizing their potential. Let me explain. An organization or an association in this case, is made up of people. In order for the association to continue to grow, the people in the association must grow individually. Without this individual growth, the association will not get stronger. I believe all deep and lasting growth (change) in human beings starts from a feeling of discomfort. I know this has been true for me in my life. When I have been comfortable, I have been less likely to grow. If you think about it, I am guessing the same can be said for you as well. It has been through uncomfortable and challenging times that you as a person have grown the most.
During our recent Annual Directors Meeting I challenged our membership to continue the growth we have achieved during the prior two years. I did this as a result of a feeling I had that CSDA has again reached a defining moment, which necessitates our growth. I say “again” because back in November of 2015, I believe CSDA experienced another defining moment. It was during our Annual Directors Meeting in Yosemite that we pondered the very scary question of whether or not CSDA was going to continue to exist. Believe me, this was an uncomfortable discussion but as an association, we did not let that moment define us. Instead, we defined the moment. At the time, we decided not only to exist but we committed to becoming the voice of child support nationwide. We changed our entire mission, vision and structure as an association, with an emphasis on Advocacy, One Voice and Training.
In the interest of complete transparency, I admit that I may be a bit preoccupied with the concept of “defining moments.” My preoccupation comes from a line in a mediocre movie I watched several years ago. The movie was Tin Cup and the character was Roy ‘Tin Cup” McAvoy, played by Kevin Costner. In the movie, he plays a washed up semi-pro golfer, whose devil may care attitude has been his Achilles heel throughout his career. It’s also the reason he never quite made it to the professional level when his talent should have dictated he did. For those of you who have not seen the movie, while leading a golf tournament, Roy hits a ball into the water and rather than take the penalty stroke and move closer to the whole for his next shot, he drops another ball in the same spot and hits it into the water again, at the cost of yet another penalty stroke. When his catty asks him why he hit the ball again from that same spot, Roy responds, “I hit it again because that shot was a defining moment, and when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment… or the moment defines you.” This line has resonated with me ever since I saw this movie years ago, and I now believe what Roy said, is true in life.
As I mentioned earlier, I recently challenged our membership to continue the growth we had achieved during the prior two years because I felt CSDA has again reached a defining moment. Why do I see 2018 as a defining moment? Look around at what’s going on in our program right now. As an association, we will host our very first CSDA Committee Chair Orientation in January with the goal of better aligning the work that we all do on our committees with our strategic plan. In addition, we made the decision to have all of our committee chairs invited to our membership meetings starting in 2018 in hopes of better communication and engagement with the association. Also during this next year, CSDA will begin advocating for adequate funding for California’s child support program, an issue that is near and dear to all of our hearts. In the area of training, CSDA will begin working on hosting a national legal college in 2019, potentially adding a credentialed leadership program as well as providing structured training for new directors. Those are just a few of the things going on within CSDA in 2018.
What about all of the things swirling around outside of the association? Did you know we have a new federal commissioner at OCSE, Scott Lekan? What will his vision hold for the future of our program? We will have an opportunity to hear from Commissioner Lekan at our 2018 Annual Training Conference next May. Closer to home here in California, 2018 is Governor Browns last year in office so at the state level, there will be a lot of transition preparation taking place. What about State DCSS? I am very excited to say that CSDA is now working with State DCSS, in better defining our relationship as well as our roles and responsibilities. We are both very interested in truly partnering as we move forward in order to provide Californians with the best possible outcomes in the area of child support.
On the program side, 2018 promises to be a very busy year as well. We will begin the real work of the implementation of the Guideline Review as well as The Flexibility Efficiency Modernization Rule (aka The Rule). If that wasn’t enough, how about continued discussions around the budget allocation methodology? Will there be any new funding to our program? How about E-Filing, Arrears Management and branding the child support program in California?
Now you tell me that 2018 will not be a defining moment for us at CSDA. With all of these things happening at the same time, it would be easy for us to get overwhelmed as individuals, as LCSA’s and as an association…but that’s not who we are. We have grown as individuals, as LCSAs and as an association and I believe we have the capacity to define this moment. What can you do? Talk to your Director about getting involved in one of the many CSDA Committees. Start thinking about what all of this might mean to the children and families we serve. We will come together and lead during this defining moment. That much I can promise you.
I, for one, am excited!!! CSDA is ready for what’s coming. What will all of this mean for the children and families we serve? I’m not quite sure yet. One thing I am sure of, CSDA represents 49 local child support organizations and over 6,000 of the hardest working employees I have ever worked with. The Child Support Directors Association of California is as poised and ready as I have ever seen us, to take on these challenges and help lead California through this exciting and challenging time. The voice of child support nationwide…. here we come!!