Dear COABE Members, Partners, and Friends,
What an honor it is to begin my term as President of COABE! My affiliation with the organization began in 2006 when I attended my first conference in Houston, and from that time, I knew COABE had huge potential to impact the lives of adult learners and the practice of teachers, administrators, and tutors who work with them. In 2007, the Virginia Association for Adult and Continuing Education, (VAACE), Virginia’s state association hosted one of the first COABE Regional Institutes in Williamsburg. This institute featured addresses and training opportunities by two of the most influential adult educators in my career; Drs. Stephen Brookfield and Rosemary Caffarrella. This experience convinced me that COABE was committed to providing quality experiences for adult educators. During my term as president of VAACE, I applied to COABE to co-host the national conference in Virginia, an honor we were granted and carried out in 2012. My time as a COABE board member began with my election as Region 2 Representative in 2013. In 2015 I became a member of the COABE Executive Committee when elected Secretary in 2015 and continued with my election as President-elect in 2017.
Throughout my time on the Board of Directors, I have engaged in and witnessed the most profound growth of COABE’s history. This growth was driven by the vision of presidents, past presidents, fellow board members, and our Manager, turned Executive Director (in 2015), and most recently named Chief Executive Officer: Sharon Bonney. During 2013 and 2014, the Board engaged in a strategic planning effort to better focus the direction of the COABE. Part of the process involved the development of its mission statement: Inspiring Educators so Adults Succeed and Communities Thrive.
Several strategic partnerships and initiatives were spawned from this strategic planning, among these are (please note: this list is not an exhaustive):
Advocacy through the Educate & Elevate campaign to inform leaders and decision-makers of the value of adult education with informational materials to be shared in-person and electronically and equipping and empowering adult education practitioners and students to lead these efforts.
Outreach to the field of adult education through state associations and like-minded organizations to provide quality information, resources, and opportunities for professional learning in the form of the national conference, regional institutes, webinars, the virtual online conference, and a revised, practitioner-focused online journal.
Strategically seeking out organizational and corporate partners with an interest in the success of adult learners and to enhance the role and visibility of adult education in addressing these objectives and many more projects and initiatives.
I am excited at the prospects ahead for COABE and the role of our association in Inspiring Educators so Adults Succeed and Communities Thrive and am humbled to have a continuing role in these efforts. I look forward to working alongside our outstanding board of directors as we will focus on revisiting COABE's mission and priorities to ensure we are impacting the field in the most positive and productive ways. I also look forward to my time interacting with our membership and partners at conferences, meetings, events, and even electronically over the next 2 years and beyond! The future is ours, and together we will do exciting, effective, and impactful things for the benefit of our learners and nation; are you ready? Let's go!
I wish you all the best,
Don Finn, Ph.D.