Michael A. Novak, MSM, MBA, FACHE, Chapter President
This is my first letter to our Connecticut Chapter members as your new President. Thank you for your confidence in me. As I reflected on what to write, I reflected on my journey with CTAHE.
Over 15 years ago, I recall driving to the 3M building in Wallingford (now home to CHA) one morning to join the membership committee of CACHE. (We didn’t use the “T” back then.) I was warmly greeted by Jim Hite, then membership chair, met Caroline Piselli and the rest of the membership committee team for the first time. We worked on a number of initiatives focused on growing membership. Steve Merz was President then and Nancy Rosenthal was Regent.
A few years later I joined the Board and the Presidency transitioned to Kurt Barwis with Bill Jennings as Regent. Under their leadership, we focused on improving our Higher Education Network (HEN), getting students to Congress and continually exploring our young executive growth with Angela Mattie from Quinnipiac. Kurt Barwis went on as Regent and Gary Havican became our next President. Together with Aaron Mitra, we continued to focus on many strategic initiatives including the first inaugural golf tournament. Congress became a rite of passage and a place to not only learn from a number of impressive sessions, but a golden opportunity to spend time with our chapter members exchanging stories and having some great laughs. The Chapter was recognized for Excellence at the grand luncheon and places like Howl at the Moon, Second City Comedy and many after event get-togethers abounded.
I completed my Governors Exam and joined the ranks of FACHE. This is an achievement that I remain proud of today. More recently, we transitioned to Kim Lumia as chapter President and Denise Fiore as Regent. Together, they not only kept the pace of our Chapter Excellence but most notably kept our Chapter active during an almost worldwide shutdown pandemic. Throughout it all, these leaders kept the Chapter and its membership central to its ideals, fostering networking and growth.
It’s been a fun, inspiring, and educational growth path for me. But the reason why I wrote about all this is that for many of us we became leaders today not because we were born that way, but because of all the help we received from others, and that is a gift. I am reminded of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s University of Houston’s commencement speech in 2017 where he spoke about a “Self Made man being a myth”. As a world champion body builder, former governor, successful actor, he stated so eloquently that, “It’s important to recognize that at every step of the way, I had help. It’s important to acknowledge that,” and added, “As soon as you understand that you are here because you had a lot of help, you realize you need to help others.”
To help others is the true essence of ACHE and our Chapter. With my presidency, I will repay that gift by inspiring others and encourage collegiality among our members. The next chapter of CTAHE begins now and we will continue to guide the Chapter to look back on the kind words, the precious pointers, the poignant corrections, our chapter friendships, relationships and acquaintances to continue to demonstrate value for our membership. We will continue this great Chapter to be a source of encouragement, education and networking that is so essential to each emerging leader.
Your Chapter has already had a great year with many more educational and fun things planned. Rob Weiss, Anna and the golf committee just completed a very successful golf tournament and now Rob has joined the board along with Albert Peguero. This fall, we plan to have our first multi-chapter, multiday event occurring this November 14-16, 2021. And if all goes as planned, we can once again socialize with each other. Please save the date for this truly momentous event.
I apologize for the many names I could not fit in this letter but I could go on for hours. My goal was to focus ourselves on the true value your ACHE Chapter membership though a reflection on the many interactions we have had with each other because of this Chapter. Remembering how each encounter has shaped our lives and our thinking over the years is critical to achieve growth. Please continue be an active member. But most importantly, remember that even by simply attending events and meeting new people – you make a difference. As Arnold closed his commencement speech, he reminded the new grads to “give something back to your community. Make sure it’s not about ME, it’s about WE.” I can think of no better place to make this impact than through helping the membership of the Connecticut Chapter of ACHE.