Although Liz has only been on the job for a short time, she hit the ground running on her first day with exciting plans for IHRSA. Liz sat down with CBI to share a little bit about her commitment to fitness, her advice on how to get a seat at the table, and how she describes her management style.
CBI: Tell us about your lifelong commitment to fitness and why you thought this industry was a good fit for you.
LIZ CLARK: I’ve always believed an active lifestyle is important to a healthy, balanced life. And I’ve always been very active. I was skiing and swimming even as a little kid. I went on to be a cross-country runner, and I was a three-varsity-sport athlete in high school; I played tennis, basketball, and softball. I worked in a fitness center all through college and was on the collegiate crew team. I’m still very active.
In addition to running after my kids and working out, I’m also an avid golfer and kayaker. So, I think that when you consider my background—which includes 20 years of advocacy as well as international policy and commerce—when looking at this job, I really thought it was a great fit.
CBI: What do you think is the number-one challenge for associations today?
LIZ CLARK: We are in a difficult and unique time with the business climate being very uncertain, and, like everyone else, we’re all trying to navigate what that means. Our association is working overtime to help our members navigate all sorts of challenges. And those can come in the form of economic challenges, mergers, policy changes—the arrows can come at you from every direction.
As someone who has worked for an association for a long time, I know the challenge is communicating that the role of the association is to do for the industry what companies and brands can’t do for themselves. You need to communicate to your members that it’s a partnership, and, by being partners, we are stronger together.
CBI: You were able to achieve impressive results while working with the National Confectioners Association (NCA) when you had it deemed an essential service. How did that come about, and what steps will you take to make sure our industry will be heard in the nation’s capital?
LIZ CLARK: I think it’s about relationships and presence. As in any relationship, you can’t court somebody overnight. You need to establish a continuous and sustained relationship with somebody, so that when you need something, it’s not the first time that they’re hearing from you. And that’s true of lawmakers.
You also need to recognize that with lawmakers it’s often a two-way street. A lot of those folks have their own priority issues. And if you start to have a relationship with lawmakers, you can work together to figure out what the symmetries are with their legislative priorities. Then you can help your industry and support their agenda at the same time.