The Brain Trust – A Valuable NCDA Resource

By E. Niel Carey

What is the NCDA Brain Trust and How Was It started?  
The NCDA Brain Trust consists of former NCDA presidents and executive directors, Eminent Career Award winners and Fellows.  The group meets at the annual NCDA Career Development conference and shares ideas and discusses topics of interest and concern.  I was honored when I was invited to join the group as a former executive director of NCDA.  Brain Trust meetings have been a priority for my attendance at NCDA conferences, providing the opportunity to share ideas with valued professional colleagues.

Following the meeting of the Trust at the 2014 NCDA conference in Long Beach, then President-Elect Mark Danaher, who  chaired the meeting, asked if I would consider writing a Career Convergence article on the Trust, including its formation, purpose and direction.  I agreed because I was aware of the significant contributions made by members of the Trust to NCDA in continuing its century of professional service.  However, when I contacted several of the NCDA leaders to determine how the Brain Trust was started, they were at a loss to provide specific information.  If you have information about the formation of the Trust, please share it with our group!

Brain Trust Members’ Contributions to NCDA.  
Brain Trust members have consistently provided effective and innovative leadership and service to NCDA and its members.  For example, during my tenure as executive director from 1985 to 1994, members of the Trust worked diligently and successfully to:

  • Change the name from the National Vocational Guidance Association to the National Career Development Association;
  • Strengthen the Association’s autonomy by establishing a headquarters office and employing management and administrative staff;
  • Initiate a national conference (now successfully conducted  annually) featuring prominent speakers including Maya Angelou, a president of the National Organization of Women, a member of the U.S. Congress, and a former U.S. Secretary of Labor;
  • Conduct national surveys with the Gallup Organization and publicize the results;Consult with career development leaders in other countries, and support the formation of national career development associations in several of those countries;
  • Advocate for appropriate accreditation of higher education programs, certification for NCDA professionals,  and national career development standards;
  • Initiate the process which resulted in the Career Development Facilitator program;Support and encourage research, publications and technology for NCDA members and career development professionals;
  • Communicate and work with a number of professional, business/labor, and non-government organizations to advance NCDA’s goals of career development, diversity and equal opportunity, and social justice;
  • Increase NCDA’s visibility and credibility at the national level through organized advocacy and communications with members of congress, and their staff, and federal departments responsible for implementing legislation and policies related to NCDA’s mission.

Obviously, the members of the Trust involved in these major achievements have experience and expertise which can and should be shared with current NCDA leaders and members.   Their good work has contributed greatly to NCDA’s heritage and legacy, and hopefully, the Trust members will be willing to continue to share the wisdom gained from their work in appropriate ways.   

What are the Next Steps for the Brain Trust?  
Building on Mark Danaher’s suggestions and the discussion at the last meeting of the Brain Trust, I offer the following suggestions for further discussion and possible action:

1.     Name change. Is “brain” an accurate word for the title of this group? If a name change is suggested, consider Heritage Trust.

2.    Mission.  Accept the responsibility for helping to maintain and strengthen NCDA’s heritage and legacy of professional service.

3.    Organization.  The NCDA President-Elect will arrange for the meeting of the Trust, ask Trust  members to suggest agenda items, and chair the meeting.  The NCDA President and Executive Director will be ex-officio members.

4.    Dissemination.  Consider preserving the meeting discussion with video and a written summary.

5.    Ongoing Activities.  Encourage members of the Trust to follow the example of many Trust members and offer any/all of the following, for example:  consult with NCDA student members; give oral or written testimony to support NCDA positions; strengthen communications and cooperation with related organizations;  and consult with NCDA members, leaders, committees  and state organizations.
My purpose in writing this is to point to the NCDA Brain Trust as a rich resource of experience, leadership and wisdom, and to suggest ways that this resource may continue to support NCDA members, leaders and policies.  It also allows me to express my appreciation for the opportunity to be involved in some small way with such a distinguished group of dedicated professionals.

Niel CareyE. Niel Carey, MEd., NCC, NCCC (ret) is the NCDA Executive Director Emeritus.  He can be reached at enielcarey@aol.com or 410.465.6994; 410.530.8298 (c)

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Janet Wall   on Tuesday 12/02/2014 at 07:56 AM

Niel. Very nice article. You always offer such thoughtful and helpful ideas and reflections.

Deneen Pennington   on Tuesday 12/02/2014 at 08:35 AM

I love the name Heritage Trust! Thanks for taking the time to write this important article.

Niel Carey   on Wednesday 12/03/2014 at 11:15 AM

Thanks for your positive and helpful comments!

Howard Splete   on Wednesday 12/03/2014 at 11:47 AM

Hi to E. NIEL Carey and fellow trusters ! I would best be involved as an heritage than a brain ! Some great ideas ! I support this proposal. Cheers ! Howard

Niel Carey   on Wednesday 12/03/2014 at 12:17 PM

Thanks, Howard. Once again, you provide good leadership for helping us move forward!

Edward Colozzi   on Thursday 12/11/2014 at 12:53 PM

Thanks Niel for your excellent article filled with some important ideas. I like Heritage Trust and also add another for consideration...NCDA's Leadership Trust.

Modern leadership theory and practice has shifted, and the focus is more about relationships based on trust and fairness, and not power, and this is supported by recent neuroscience research. Effective leadership requires building and nurturing authentic human connections and helping people feel valued, that they matter and count. People and organizations need and want an atmosphere of trust and collaboration in which to grow and innovate and successfully serve their client/customer base. This is the secret ingredient of employee engagement and probably all human engagement.

NCDA has many individuals who have contributed much and continue to bring wisdom of mind and heart to our amazing association, whose purpose is to promote excellence in career-life development of others.

A Leadership (or Heritage) Trust provides an important core of knowledge, wisdom and passion for our field, needed to serve as a guiding light for NCDA's continued growth. Thanks again Niel for your article. EdC

Niel Carey   on Friday 12/12/2014 at 09:10 AM

Edward, Thanks for your helpful comments and suggestions. They reinforce many of the leadershiop attributes that I have observed in meetings of the Brain Trust, and at the same time, offer suggestions for helping the group continue and strengthen its contributions to NCDA.

Ray Davis   on Friday 12/19/2014 at 11:29 AM

Glad to see the term Heritage Trust, Niel. Thanks for your leadership!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.