There are signs all around us telling us what to do, warning us of danger, and some we are not aware of until it is too late. There are all kinds of signs along the roads we drive on, telling us to stop, merge, or curve ahead. Speed limit signs—I suppose many of you can relate instances where nobody seems to obey the posted speed—are also seen along the roads we travel. We know the signs of spring; the grass turns green, the trees bud, and the flowers bloom. We are aware of all the seasons of the year by the signs we recognize. If we are knowledgeable of the signs emanating from our spouses and loved ones, we should be able to tell if they have had a bad day and act accordingly. Yes, there are signs all around.

Many of us belong to organizations, clubs, or associations, whether it is for business, fellowship, or just to be a member of a group. There are many reasons we want to align ourselves with the groups, be it the cause or maybe we just like the people. For the past two issues of the IAEI News I have asked you to consider why you are in the electrical trade and why you are an IAEI member. This time let us examine why you are a member of the local chapter or division of IAEI. Probably your first thought would be, because this is the area where I live or work. But let’s get deeper. Why do you participate in your local chapter or division? Or maybe the question should be, “Why don’t you participate?”

It has been said, “You get out what you put in.” That can be said for IAEI. While IAEI provides many opportunities for expanding your knowledge of the codes and standards, it also provides many other opportunities for you to broaden yourself. Maybe you wish to broaden your leadership skills. Offering to serve on committees, or sharing your knowledge with others by teaching and conducting educational programs are ways of participating in divisions, chapters, or sections activities.

What are the signs of a good chapter? What makes people want to come to chapter meetings or chapter-sponsored educational programs? There are several chapters and divisions in IAEI that are having successful meetings with increasing attendance. They have found that programs designed to keep abreast of the latest in the changing codes and standards are paying off with increased attendance. They have found new and different ways of presenting their message and are keeping the meetings and workshops fresh. These active chapters are increasing their membership while others are decreasing. IAEI needs more chapters and divisions to seek out what constituents want and institute programs to fill those wants and needs. This will surely stem the loss of members and return IAEI to a growing association. Government leaders listen when a strong and growing organization has a voice on all areas of electrical safety.

Some of IAEI’s chapters are not doing things that keep people interested and coming to meetings. What are the signs of those chapters? Is the leadership stagnant? Are the programs, if there are any, relevant? The International Office has received concerns about some chapters’ leadership not being receptive to the members’ needs. Some chapters are not even having meetings where the members can elect their officers. Some don’t even know who their officers are. We hear that only the officers can attend the meetings or only a certain type of member can attend. These are certainly signs of a chapter not adhering to the goals that our founders established nearly eighty years ago. What can be done? We must learn the lessons that the successful chapters have learned. To do that, you the member at the local level must tell the story. Make sure your chapter secretary gets the minutes of your meeting in the IAEI News so that others can see what is working for your chapter. We would very much like to print your personal story of why you are an electrical professional, why you are a member of IAEI, and why you participate at the chapter or division level. If you have reasons for not participating, then maybe you could get involved and change the under-performing or non-performing chapter into a viable and valuable chapter where people just can’t wait for the next meeting. Give us your thoughts on the signs you see.

James W. Carpenter
Former IAEI CEO and Executive Director, and Editor-in-Chief for the IAEI News, James Carpenter was previously the chief electrical engineer, state electrical inspector for the Engineering Division of the Office of State Fire Marshal, North Carolina Department of Insurance. He had been with the department for twenty years, with twenty years electrical experience prior to coming to the state. He was a member of CMP-2 from 1987 to 2002 and was chairman for the last three cycles. He has been a member of IAEI since 1972. He was also a member of NFPA and is serving as the TCC chair and on the Standards Council. He was on the UL Electrical Council.