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Deb Rodahl, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President

I am a firm believer in the value that ASCLS brings to the Clinical Laboratory Sciences profession and to the practitioners within this profession. ASCLS has helped shape who I am professionally and personally, for which I will always be grateful.

I joined ASCLS in 1990 and was immediately invited to get involved by helping with the state Government Affairs Committee by a co-worker. She knew that I needed to get involved to get to know the organization and to get value for my membership. 
I was really excited to attend my first national meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, and I decided to make it a road trip and brought my mother along. We were joined by my youngest sister so that they had a chance to go sightseeing during the day while I participated in the meeting. I will always remember how many people stopped me to introduce themselves and asked how I liked the meeting. I already started to feel like I was part of a very large family. After Nashville, I decided to commit to attending the national meeting every other year – so my next meeting was in Chicago, Illinois. I still remember walking into a pre-house meeting late, due to a delayed flight and having so many people again welcome me to the meeting. I was not allowed to slip quietly into that session. Wow! I had expanded my professional family. I have not missed a meeting since! I fondly refer to the annual meeting as my professional family reunion. 
Last year as candidate for President-Elect, I was asked, “What strengths do you possess that will position ASCLS as a strong, relevant professional organization leading our practice field through these exciting, yet challenging, times of change?” I shared a few bits of who I am: 
  • Born and reared in St. Paul, Minnesota 
  • Tail-end of the Baby Boomer generation 
  • Middle child in a family of 5 
  • Personal philosophy of “where there’s a will, there’s a way” – particularly when it comes to “doing the right thing” 
I also shared my strengths and background, which in-short, say that I have been around for a while in the laboratory profession and with ASCLS. 
  • Laboratory leader for 32 years 
  • Lead with integrity 
  • Patient and customer centric 
  • Excellent organization and time management skills 
  • Strong dedication and commitment 
  • Active ASCLS member since 1990 
  • 6 years on ASCLS Board as Region V Director 
In my year as president, I intend to focus on areas that have been identified as a need in our organization: Leadership Development, Mentorship, Communication, and Professional Involvement. For several years we have heard from state and constituent societies that they are recycling their leaders and struggling to engage others to step forward to take on these roles. We have so many talented members in ASCLS that could help mentor our new leaders, but we have not pulled together a solid process to link these members together. We continue to develop our ASCLS website and member communities. However, this year we struggled with the absence of the ASCLS Today and it, therefore, highlighted a need to better define our communication processes. Lastly, I have long been disheartened by the difficulty in recruiting and retaining members in ASCLS. Too many of our co-workers are missing out on the value of professional involvement. 
We will continue to build on the work that has been started this year under the leadership of Suzanne Campbell. The Root Cause Task Force will help us come up with strategies to help support the needs in our constituent societies to grow and develop leaders. We started a transition this year to review the process for providing some orientation to the constituent society presidents-elect, which has historically been three hours of presentations (parade of committees) and some time for questions. This year we pre-recorded several ASCLS leadership-based sessions that will be a great resource for all our ASCLS leaders with the added value of being able to refer to the information at any time. This allowed us more time to share challenges and ideas with each other and to interact as a group, so people could get to know each other better. 
We also recognized the need to provide mentorship support for new leaders in ASCLS. The Mentorship Task Force has officially been transitioned to a full-fledged committee in ASCLS with the goal of expanding their reach into this arena. I will be appointing a Leadership Academy Task Force, which will help us sort through the goals for the Leadership Academies at the national, regional, and state levels. Should they be similar, or should there be a level progression and curriculum difference between the state/regional academies and the national academy? We need to answer that question first and then verify or create the structure that supports that answer. 
We heard and shared all the concerns regarding our ASCLS Today newsletter. It has been missed and that has led to the need to really identify our communication processes in general and specifically how we ensure what happened this year is not repeated. We have invested in our ASCLS journal and are amid transitioning to the new software platform. That work will continue through this next year as well. All this work is exciting and will strengthen the core of ASCLS.
We know we that we still have challenges ahead and ASCLS will continue to maintain an active role in the government and regulatory arena. PAMA is a major challenge and our members have helped with our response. The Federal budget process is likely to target some programs, which include cutting allied health education funding. The shortage of practitioners and educators is being experienced across the country and this is very troubling to us. As always, quality and patient safety are of critical importance for our members too. ASCLS will remain in the forefront with those topics.
At last year’s Board of Director’s Planning Day during our ice-breaker activity, I asked all the board members and candidates to complete a very quick and easy assessment tool – sort of a mini Meyers-Briggs. It was a fun way to get to know each other. In that assessment, I scored out as an ESTJ, which is also how I score on the full Meyers-Briggs assessment. What I got from my assessment, however, really highlights why I am here today. ESTJs are civic-minded workers who strive to improve society and like to be part of organizations. There was more, of course, but this was the aha moment for me. I am a “joiner” and learned early on that you need to get involved to gain the true value of the “membership.” My personal goal in this next year is to share the value and power of being a “joiner” and why being part of a professional organization brings value beyond the tangible membership benefits. 
The value of membership is there for each one of us – simply for the taking. ASCLS’s One Voice, One Vision is more than a catchy slogan, and more than the sum of its parts. The Voice of our grass roots membership is the foundation of ASCLS and what makes this organization so effective. ASCLS has also clearly demonstrated the Vision to plan for the future while dealing with the reality of today. We have proven the true power that we have when we all work together towards the same goals. ASCLS provides the foundation that allows us to do that. I am proud to give back to the organization that has given so much to me and I will endeavor to serve with integrity and a collaborative spirit.