ASB Hosts Member Town Hall

KANSAS CITY, MO, Sept. 11, 2023 — As the American Society of Baking (ASB) approaches its celebration of 100 years, the association hosted a virtual membership town hall, led by board chair, Eric Lewis, VP of quality assurance and regulatory for Thomasville, GA-based Flowers Foods, and Kristen Spriggs, ASB executive director, to share information about several initiatives.

“Next year marks a special moment for us when we commemorate how ASB has impacted all our lives and the baking industry as a whole,” Lewis told town hall attendees. “It’s important for us to share insights into how ASB leadership is working to ensure sustainability of the society.”

With a focus on the association’s future, ASB has indicated several areas of focus as it evaluates its strategic plan. The primary initiatives are governance, communication, new programs and workforce initiatives, and a rebranding that includes website updates with member portal enhancements.

“We have several areas we could target for improvement and reimagining, and that can be overwhelming,” Spriggs said. “But we have taken this opportunity during our run-up to the 100th anniversary celebration to really focus on specific areas of our strategic plan and concentrate our efforts. We identified the ‘Five Areas of Focus’ as we are calling them, where we wanted to dedicate resources and where knew we could tap into the very loyal ASB membership to bring about change.”

As part of enhancing workforce initiatives, ASB recently hired Sarah Day as director of education to focus on providing training, development and educational resources for membership. Additionally, ASB is tapping into partnerships with existing organizations in the industry. BakerPedia recently donated more than 700 pages of technical content as a member resource.

“We have members who are extremely passionate about education, and it’s bringing some great opportunities,” Lewis said. “One of the things I’m most excited about is this passion that our members have about education, not only for students but also for professional education that you can’t necessarily learn from a textbook. That takes mentorship and hands-on experience.”

Another area that is drawing a lot of attention is programming around ASB’s Young Professionals group, which will also see enhancements. Development of new networking events outside what has historically only taken place during BakingTech, ASB’s annual meeting, is already underway.

Young professionals account for almost a third of ASB membership, making them a key focus area for the organization in terms of innovation and resources.

“It’s important for us to share insights into how ASB leadership is working to ensure sustainability of the society.” — Eric Lewis | VP of quality assurance and regulatory for Flowers Foods | board chair of American Society of Baking

With the association’s leadership change — Spriggs took the helm as executive director when Kent Van Amburg, who previously held the role for 13 years, retired in March — ASB is identifying areas for refining its governance. As part of the strategic plan review, ASB leadership is also reviewing the association’s bylaws and supporting governance documents with input from the board and other committees.

That includes reviewing things like length of term for service and ways to rotate terms to support more diversity of service.

“We want to bring new people into the organization and give them an opportunity to be a part of this,” Spriggs said. “The development of new, fresh ideas is very much a part of who we are and what we want to be.”

Communication is a big part of these changes, and ASB is changing the ways in which it rolls out information, including increased transparency with all initiatives, and more timely and consistent membership announcements about ASB and other industry events. A redesign of the member newsletter rolled out recently, and an analysis on digital communication is currently underway.

Enhancements to the website — most notably the member portal — were also recently introduced.

The new portal was developed to not only streamline the user experience but also to function similar to a social media feed to encourage more member-to-member interaction. It holds a member directory that contains contact information, as well as other upgraded features that allow access to member benefits and services such as  ANSI Z50.1 and ANSI Z50.2 Standards documents.

“This is a customized portal for members to get ASB information based on their specific interests,”
Spriggs said.

These areas all support ASB’s ongoing efforts to create a year-round member experience. As the association heads into its 100th year, implementing changes is creating excitement around the milestone.

“It’s an honor to be part of such a milestone,” Lewis said. “And it’s incredibly special to be part of the planning for BakingTech during this time. We’ve done a lot of new things and having valuable content with a good flow has been an important part of that. This committee recognizes that participating in that milestone is truly something special.”

For more information on these focus areas and upcoming ASB events and initiatives, visit the ASB website.