Tuesday, April 18, 2017

FAQ: How did you come to work for OTAC? What is your background to do this kind of work?



I’ve been asked these questions enough times that I thought it would be worthwhile to share via the executive director’s blog.

How did I come to work for OTAC? I was employed by Association Resource Center (ARC), which is the association management company umbrella where OTAC is housed. Soon to retire (June 2008) OTAC executive director, Chuck Strauch, negotiated to move OTAC to ARC the year before he retired in preparation of his succession planning. In April (two months before Chuck’s retirement as the executive director), he and president-elect Shawn Phipps attended a CEO / CEO (chief elected officer / chief executive officer) association governance training conducted by senior executive directors employed by ARC. I was one of the trainers, which is how I met Shawn Phipps. From that training session, Shawn started a dialogue with me about the OTAC opportunity. While I was an executive director for another association, I was interested in learning more about OTAC based on observing OTAC operations through Chuck, Shawn’s vision for the association, and an opportunity to return to again serving in health care. I was interviewed by an OTAC committee for the position along with several other candidates and was offered the position. Shawn and I took over our positions (president and executive director, respectively) just as the Great Recession of 2008 hit. Needless to say the next four years were extremely challenging and exponentially rewarding as we successfully navigated with the OTAC Board of Directors this unique time period in our country’s and OTAC’s history.. I have been serving OTAC since 2008 and it continues to be professionally challenging as well as rewarding.

What is my background to do this kind of work? I hold a BS in Business Administration with concentrations in accounting and marketing. My IOM represents a professional development program, Institute of Organizational Management, conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce for chamber and association senior staff. It’s a 128-hour program covering all nine domains of association management. I am also a long-time member of both the California and American societies for association executives. Most of my adult career has been in senior association management positions, performing or overseeing all domains – membership, professional development/conferences, governance and leadership, administration, government affairs, marketing/communications/public relations, strategic management, and products/programs . My background also includes working with several mental health focused associations as well as at Sutter Health in its marketing/public relations/patient relations department, and the second largest chamber of commerce on the west coast as director of communications/events/leadership. My for profit management background includes: director of operations for an international certified public accounting firm, director of finance and administration for a publishing company, and co-director of a commercial construction company. As I mentioned before, I am an ARC trainer for association leaders. In addition I serve on two nonprofit charitable organizations (one since 2009) in the role of elected vice president.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Executive Director’s Blog: What to Expect

Greetings all! Welcome to the first OTAC Executive Director Message blog posting in collaboration with the 100 Stories of OT blog. While the OTAC office team doesn’t provide OT client services, we want to share with you our own 100 stories about the OTAC headquarters and staff; OTAC activities, operations, and policies; and other information to address frequently asked questions (or maybe frequently un-asked questions). You will also read on occasion about the world of associations in relation to OTAC. You are welcomed to submit topics that you would like hear more about as well.

A Day in the Life of Your OTAC Professional Association Management Team
I am kicking off the first blog with a bird’s eye view of our ‘typical’ day serving OTAC members. Typical is in quotes because we don’t have a typical day. While every day is different (and we love that!), we do have one constant. We come to work every day with a mantra ‘make every day count on behalf of the members.’ When I was recruited in 2008 as the OTAC executive director, following in the very big shoes of Chuck Strauch, my inauguration presentation at the Annual Conference was about this very mantra. I am proud to say that we are as dedicated to it today as we were nine years ago.

So, here are a few highlights from today, in no particular order: attended the CBOT special board meeting on CBOT’s sunset review / provided an overview to the OTAC president and comments to the advocacy committee, set up a template for a survey going out next week on behalf of the OTAC subcommittee on OT school credentialing, collected more letters from members opposing AB 1510 (athletic trainers’ bill), created an OTAC NEWS about the 100 Stories of OT blog, updated the website, interacted with a few potential presenters for the Annual Conference, communicated with the Annual Conference and Professional Development and Leadership Committee, checked on status of CFPs for the Annual Conference, mailed more than 400 dues renewals notices, created dues stuffers: a ‘save the date’ for Annual Conference and Vision/Mission/Core Values leave behind, reached out to several new vendors for the Annual Conference exhibit hall, created administrative instructions for OTAC Region events, updated the OT Centennial Float donor roster and website thermometer, added a check button in the customer management database to track members interested in the OT school credentialing initiative, provided assistance to various Board members, answered a nonmember question on how to obtain advanced practice for a course they are sponsoring, directed several callers to the CBOT website for answers to their questions, processed registrations for OTAC Advocacy Day and other OTAC activities, and processed dues renewals and responded to various related communications from members.

Warm regards,




Karen C. Polastri, IOM

OTAC Executive Director

FAQ: How did you come to work for OTAC? What is your background to do this kind of work?

I’ve been asked these questions enough times that I thought it would be worthwhile to share via the executive director’s blog. How ...