Our Society has made significant improvements during the past 3 years. First, we changed our governance model to create a more strategic board and add a public director position to bring a different perspective and new ideas to the board’s deliberations. We continue to develop in this area as we strive to achieve the highest level of performance.
Next, we conducted brand research that led us to change our name to the American Society of Safety Professionals. This name better reflects who our members really are, and it is more inclusive and welcoming to all safety and health practitioners and professionals. After a yearlong implementation effort by our volunteer leaders and staff, this change has been well received by our members and stakeholders, and our membership continues to grow.
We also addressed our physical assets and information technology to improve organizational performance and enhance our communication capability. We sold the former headquarters building in Des Plaines, IL, and invested to upgrade our IT infrastructure. Now we have not only a means for efficient data management and a new website, but also resources to better deliver our education offerings through innovative methods such as LearnEx and microlearning.
In addition, we focused on standards development initiatives that identify the state-of-the-art practices and technologies needed to create the safest and healthiest work environments. We established an independent accreditation institute to further drive the evolution of workplace safety and health worldwide. This fee-based program will certify an applying organization’s occupational safety and health products and services based on recognized voluntary national and international consensus standards. This is an exciting new area for us as we continue to position ASSP as a global leader in workplace safety.
We formed the Council on Academic Affairs and Research, our first new council in 20 years, to streamline operations and align efforts related to our OSH research agenda, academic standards and student engagement. This council has great potential to drive a rich body of knowledge and enhance the development of new professionals and future leaders so needed by our profession and organization.
The ASSP Foundation continues to help people realize their OSH education goals. Through generous donations, the Foundation awarded more than $375,000 in scholarships and grants to 117 individuals in 2018, an incredible 24% increase from 2017.
Looking at these recent successes, you might wonder what is left for ASSP to do. The answer is that we still have much to do. We must focus on achieving the greatest possible results across our four strategic pillars: member communities, education, standards and advocacy.
Over the next year, we will continue to take significant steps to expand use of the global capability framework for OSH professionals. Through the Council on Academic Affairs and Research, we will continue to advocate for and improve our profession. We will elevate the dialogue around human capital through the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, and we will enhance OSH management systems, training and products through our accreditation institute. In addition, we will continue to expand and improve our educational offerings. And we will focus on bringing more students, young and new professionals, women, veterans, African Americans and Hispanics into the safety profession and our Society.
This will be an exciting year. My pledge to you is that I will do everything I can to continue leading ASSP along this path to success. I invite you all to participate and help make it happen.