Lander Medlin is APPA's executive vice president. She can be reached at

In the wake of the horrific tragedy of September 11, 2001 there is a sea of both individual emotions and organizational reflection.

Individuals across this great nation, and in fact across the world, are forever changed by the damaging events of that day. Our freedom, optimism, and joy tainted by terrorists' actions, we do not pretend to understand nor can we fathom their meaning or purpose. Before that day, we had been debating how the information age was changing the very fabric of our industry, profession, and community. Although still important, as we look to the future we face the larger questions of: What really matters? How do we begin again? How can APPA be of service?

Both individuals and institutions must wrestle with these and many, many more questions as we step boldly forward toward a new and different future. APPA is no exception. Therefore, it seems an important time for APPA, as a network of institutions and individuals representing educational facilities professionals globally, to reflect upon these questions and seek your feedback in the weeks and months ahead.

It has always been a source of inspiration knowing that this association exists to serve and support such an important endeavor as education in general, and the facilities profession specifically. "Building our children's future" as "global partners in learning" is a noble cause-indeed one we have been and will continue to be passionate about. We have always believed that we provided many valuable services: focusing on your individual professional development, providing tools and resources for organizational improvement and excellence, and connecting a rich network of colleagues. The goals of these services are to improve individual job performance, build more productive organizations, connect an important community of professionals, and ultimately enrich your personal and professional lives. This is certainly what was important to you before this insanity occurred.

So the questions return: What really matters? How do we begin again? How can APPA be of service and increase value to you and your institutions? We cannot answer these questions without your input and feedback. What are the issues, needs, and challenges we must address; the tools and resources we must arm ourselves with; and the educational programs and publications you most need?

As you, as we, consider these questions and concerns, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on our association's direction and reaffirm its relevance and value in these turbulent times. What comes immediately to mind are the three desired outcomes from the strategic plan-the three Cs-competency, collaboration, and credibility. It is our belief that these three desired outcomes and the corresponding goals and initiatives focused on their long- term achievement are still quite valid, extremely relevant, highly meaningful, and maybe, just maybe, more important than ever before.

Accomplishing the three outcomes will mean we have become highly knowledgeable, educated, and ethical professionals ready to face any task requiring our technical, tactical, and strategic expertise-hence competency.

It will mean we have become strategic partners that are inclusive and accessible to all the stakeholders we serve and support-hence collaborative relationships. It will mean we have become valuable and influential advocates capable of providing meaningful and authoritative input into the institutional decision-making process -hence credibility.

We need to embrace all three outcomes as we come together as a united front in support of our institutions and our nation during their greatest time of need. A time when we must determine how best to maintain our freedom and, at the same time, protect our institutions, our communities, and ourselves. This is a time when we must recommit ourselves to the principles and fundamental values that we embody.

In the October 2001 issue of Fortune magazine, Joseph Nocera talks about capitalism's resiliency as the stock market opened for trading within four days of this surprise attack. He also focused attention on its fragility as there inevitably will be business and financial setbacks. As facilities professionals you have faced natural disasters and economic setbacks with amazing resiliency, yet you also understand the corresponding fragility these events can and will have on our institutions. And while we know that business as usual cannot happen, we also know that the institutions we support must find ways to transform their services and resources to meet these unprecedented challenges head on.

So we must carry on at our institutions and within our communities. APPA too must carry on; APPA will carry on, as we firmly believe that the programs, products, and services offered by this association are the cornerstone and the foundation of the successful educational facilities professional. We, therefore, recommit ourselves to delivering the finest, most up-to-date educational programs representing the body of knowledge of the facilities profession. (Please see our Coming Events listing, or view the Education calendar at We provide informative publications and on-line information, materials and links to keep you abreast of the coming challenges and to address your changing needs (please visit for a complete listing of our publications and other resources). We foster this rich network of facilities professionals through our awards and recognition programs (please visit for more information).

As we begin again to carry on our individual and organizational lives, it will take our best efforts; an effort in leadership that is an essential component of your jobs as facilities professionals. As aptly captured in a recent Fast Company magazine article, "The power of any community is a function of the strength of its connections. Let's be sure, during this difficult and perilous time, to make our connections even stronger that they have ever been."

A major source of strength comes from your connection with others who are facing similar challenges and concerns. You consist of a powerful network that will have a tremendously positive influence on your institutions and your community. By all accounts you are already doing so as you support blood drives, organize and contribute to various foundations/funds, offer assistance that is both technical and physical in nature, and provide much needed courage and strength during the aftermath. We applaud your commitment and your choosing to make a difference.

We are actively seeking your feedback, so please do not hesitate to e-mail me at You may also respond to our biweekly e-mail newsletter and/or visit our website. Tell us the new kinds of problems that you would like us to help you solve. Tell us the type of data, information, and knowledge you need us to research. Be sure to tell us what we should not change as well.

As you step boldly forward, APPA will do so with you. APPA will continue to provide you programs and services, tools and resources, and the network to learn from each other, to share experiences, and to develop an even stronger, more connected community in the months and years to come.