December 31, 2020

Auld Lang Syne

 Auld Lang Syne


In early 2020, the People Association leaders of NAAAHR, ATD VOS, AZ Biz Link, AZHREF, AZODN, ICF AZ, AZ SHRM, ATRA and the AZ Talent Coop Advisory Board met over lunch to discuss how we would work together in 2020. We discussed how to improve the member experience, and what would professional and personal development look like for People professionals. You can visit their websites to find your Tribe. We also discussed how to track events so that we could minimize duplicate programs, competing programs, and better collaborate and highlight the unique value proposition of each of the associations. We had a plan to share two major events related to current and urgent business needs that spanned across People disciplines. These events would also fund our work together for 2020. We chose a session with Ashley Goodall of Cisco outlining the principles of 9 Lies About Work, and a Talent Acquisition Hack a Thon.

In March, COVID brought all of those plans to a halt. Association meetings moved to virtual. Previous continuing education topics were no longer essential for our businesses and careers to move forward. Implementing processes for precautions to keep our employees and customers safe became everyone’s priority. Work from home was implemented quickly and changed everything we thought we knew about how work gets done. People professionals were working under tight deadlines to put plans in place for workplace safety as well as dealing with critically ill employees. Everyone responsible for employee wellbeing were moving at an unprecedented pace. Thank you for the hard work and dedication shown by those people professionals who made WFH a reality, and how to protect frontline essential workers.

As People professionals were winding down from moving everyone home, there was also a need to decide how best and how to safely return employees the workplace, when it became feasible. All of this was taking a toll on employees, and the People professionals and leaders on the forefront of action planning and implementation.

Many professional associations shifted their focus from strategic planning for the future, to supporting the work being done to mitigate personal and business risk. The association members and the AZ Talent CoOp focused on supporting the People professionals and getting them connected to other colleagues, to share solutions to pandemic challenges.

The last quarter of the year has been a time of reflection and exploring of  “What is Possible,” for associations leaders from ATRA, AZ ODN, AZHREF, and ICF, along with Sarah Grone and Melanie Chase. They have been meeting regularly to research what companies and organizations will need to move business and the people who support those businesses forward. We have been discussing what will be our strategy (defined as a well thought out allocation of limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving our members, their organizations and our communities.)[i] These sessions will define how we will work together as a group on the challenges that all People professionals and their organizations are facing today and beyond.

As we say goodbye to 2020 and welcome 2021, the AZ Talent CoOp Board is also exploring how organizational expertise is delivered and how independent professional service providers support one another as it relates to the People side of business. In 2021 the CoOp will research and refine a different kind of business model for professional service providers (Gig workers), in addition to the current professional association’s model. And last but not least, all of us are all committed to serving the nonprofit community in Arizona, and how we can collaborate to have a greater collective impact on our communities.

We will share our progress as we move through 2021. Visit our website,,

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2020 taught us many things about work, ourselves, and resiliency. For if we do not learn from past mistakes, we are destined to repeat those mistakes. 2021 will present us with a whole new context on the world and the way we work. The past has much to teach us about the future. Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

[i] Rich Horwath Deep Dive

About Mary Henry