Weekly Now: Putting a Spotlight on First Ladies

A new association looks to build a research discipline around the work of the first lady. Also: Why a complex job description might be scaring off potential applicants.

With Independence Day weekend near, now is the time to discuss the emergence of what promises to be a patriotic group.

Washingtonian reports that American University is in the process of launching the First Ladies Association for Research and Education.

The group will research and analyze the history of a position that holds no formal power but that often carries influence because of the reach it has with average Americans—shifting public opinion and helping to set the stage for major works in areas such as civil rights, education, and preservation. (Case in point: The White House Historical Association, a group that has done much to highlight and protect the legacies of the presidential quarters, was founded by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.)

“Remarkably, there are no formal professional associations that specialize in or encourage the public and scholars to learn from the leadership of our First Ladies,” said Anita McBride, executive-in-residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs (and herself a former chief of staff to former first lady Laura Bush), in a news release.

The group will bring together researchers and leaders from the worlds of academia and research to contextualize the importance of the role.

Other recent headlines:

A3 gives AI its own board. The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has launched a new board dedicated to artificial intelligence, with the goal of improving education and adoption of AI efforts. The Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy Board will aim to put AI on the same plane as A3’s other areas of focus (robotics, vision and imaging, and motion control and motors). “Artificial intelligence—in many shapes and forms—will be the stitching that weaves together a new age of industry,” A3 President Jeff Burnstein said in a news release. “As the global trade group of the automation industry, we need to help prepare our members to seize this potential.”

Heart association brings telemedicine to under-resourced populations. The American Heart Association is working on a new telemedicine initiative to patients in communities that may not have proper access to cardiology resources. AHA has launched Doctors With Heart, which will provide no-cost heart consultations to communities that face disproportionately higher levels of chronic and debilitating conditions. An initiative of the AHA’s Center for Health Technology & Innovation, many of the association’s 33,000-plus volunteer members have already pledged to participate.

Understanding Hiring Challenges

Having trouble finding someone to fill a role in your management team? The Moery Company’s JP Moery suggests that the root of the problem might be the fact that these roles have grown increasingly complex.

“Entry level and mid-level management positions in associations are being gummed up with a lot of different job responsibilities—so much so that I’m not sure the association can find the appropriate candidates, because they’ve expanded the scope and the responsibilities of these jobs,” he says in a clip on his company’s YouTube channel.

So what’s the solution? Moery recommends a variety of solutions, including simplifying job descriptions and focusing on hiring recent graduates who can grow into their roles. Learn more on the Moery Company website.


Naomi Osaka’s decision to skip press conferences at the French Open offers a great starting point for a discussion on mental health in the workplace, Rasheeda Childress writes.

Flexibility matters right now in the workplace, and it’s important to understand what that means before you implement it; here’s how to get started.

The forthcoming 10th anniversary edition of Race for Relevance makes the case for structuring your board around competency—and leadership blogger Mark Athitakis discusses some of the book’s highlights.

Current First Lady Jill Biden. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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