The arrival of Thanksgiving has us reflecting on the many reasons to be thankful for our involvement in association work.

We’re grateful for insight into the professions represented by the associations we work with. We’ve gained great appreciation for the skill and expertise required for our members to perform the work they do. We have grown intimately familiar with inner workings of worlds we’ll never work within ourselves, and are proud to represent people who keep our children safe, make our world beautiful, contribute to the health of our pets, make cancer patients stronger for the fight ahead, speak for the disenfranchised, move us from one place to the next and much more.

We’re grateful for what we’ve learned about how associations function. Many of us are actively involved with nonprofit organizations in our own communities. The knowledge we’ve acquired on the other side of the table has helped us be better organizers, better members and better volunteers.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to build bridges for our members – to be the ones who help them achieve their educational and professional goals.

We’re grateful for the reward that comes when you fix something that isn’t working anymore. The feeling that comes from stepping into a problematic situation and helping members get to a place where they see how they can change it is very fulfilling. The problem-solving skills we’ve gained in this line of work are ones we also find useful at home and in our personal lives.

We’re grateful for the way our association work has clarified our own career goals. Many of us came to this field from other professions. Now we can’t imagine doing anything else. We’re grateful for the variety and the unexpected in our days. In the morning, we might be assembling name badges and in the afternoon, meeting with the governor.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to get out of our comfort zones and attempt tasks we didn’t think we could do – until we had to. The hands-on nature of association work means we know how to write a law and how to fix a copier, how to tweak HTML code to get an email looking as it should and how to publish a 32-page glossy magazine. We’ve got mad skills from all that variety!

We’re grateful for the varied people we meet and the differing perspectives they expose us to every day. We even appreciate the challenging personalities who help us find new wells of patience and understanding, and hone our conflict resolution and customer service skills.

We’re grateful to our friends and family members for the understanding and support they provide us during the long hours we put in, the events that take us away for days at a time, and the work issues we try not to bring home but sometimes do.

We’re grateful for the association leaders and association professionals we work with and learn something new from every day. But most of all, we’re grateful to all the association members we serve. On Thanksgiving and every day, we thank you for all you do to help your colleagues grow professionally, strengthen your industries and make the world a better place.