In times of unprecedented stress and anxiety, the work of professionals devoted to mental health is more critical than ever.
The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) is dedicated to the growth and development of therapists who use art-making and creative processes to help individuals, families and entire communities who are coping with crises. The goals of the AATA couldn’t be bigger in terms of importance, but the size of the staff taking on this critical mission? Not quite as large.
Kat Michel is the Senior Manager of Member Services at AATA. Her primary focus is the recruitment, retention, growth and diversification of members, and she also moderates online forums and takes an active role in many of the association’s webinars and continuing education offerings. “We are a dynamic staff, which means we need to adapt and move and be fluid in what we do,” says explains.
The staff at AATA is big in passion and dedication when it comes to bringing art therapists instruction, information and inspiration. But up until recently, the association was continually running into a brick wall with its work. “We had a terrible technology problem where the user experience was not at all easily accessible,” explains Michel. Members had a profile in one place and then would have to log onto another platform that hosted our continuing education and then log onto yet another platform for our events.”
It was disjointed, to say the least, and the AATA was badly in need of a tech solution for their member experience. “We realized we needed a streamlined system. We were creating all these really wonderful resources and opportunities and events, but if people couldn't sign in or couldn’t find them, they were just kind of a being thrown into the abyss.”
After an exhaustive search and review of several systems with their partners at Delcor, AATA chose Impexium as their association management system. The results, says Michel, have been transformative for both sides of the association relationship. “The staff is able to devote our energy and time to bigger things — not having to worry so much about assisting people with passwords or where they can find event information. And Impexium has empowered our members to feel comfortable troubleshooting if they need to. And most importantly, it makes things very clear and visible as to what resources are available and where to click to get them. It is a centralized place where everything can be accessed. Now it is so much easier for our members to register and participate in what we offer.”
This newfound simplicity has helped energize the association and gave them the ability to successfully launch a powerful new webinar series and a virtual conference dedicated to helping members navigate art therapy in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Michel, who has a degree in art therapy, takes tremendous pride in how the association has been able to rise to meet the needs of the art therapy community. “The work our members do is hugely important to me,” she says. “They are frontline workers who are out in the world providing mental health services, supporting their communities and being there for people that are in crisis. By making that work easier for them and advocating for them, we are helping them make the world a better place. For me and for everyone at the AATA, it is incredibly rewarding.”
Change may be the only constant in business — but that doesn’t make organizational transformation any easier. Association leaders are balancing competing priorities and increasing demands, enough to make even the most driven executive fall victim to the inertia of the status-quo.
But not every association stays still while the world seems to change around them. For her willingness to upset the association technology status-quo, Impexium is proud to recognize Kat Michel as one of 2020’s Association Technology Disruptors!
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