Thursday, May 23, 2013

Demand For SmithBucklin’s Financial Management Outsourcing Services on the Rise in 2013

As associations continue to cope with the realities of a recovering economy and tighter budgets, SmithBucklin has seen an uptick in the number of organizations inquiring about financial management and accounting outsourcing services. In addition, three standalone organizations have recently selected SmithBucklin to manage their financial management operations.

“Financial health is central to the success and growth of an organization and its ability to serve its members,” said Brian Teague, senior director of Financial Management & Accounting Services. “Leading organizations recognize the benefits of outsourcing financial management operations to SmithBucklin, gaining access to our world-class team of financial specialists while deploying cost savings back into programs and member services.”

The following organizations have recently selected SmithBucklin for financial management and accounting services:

Local Search Association (LSA) is the largest trade organization of print, digital, mobile and social media that help local businesses get found and selected by ready-to-buy consumers. Association members include U.S. and international directory publishers, search engine marketers, online listings and review sites, digital advertising agencies and mobile search providers.

National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) was founded in 1936 and is the national association representing the $42 billion U.S. vending and refreshment services industry. With more than 1,800 member companies – including many of the world’s most recognized brands – NAMA provides advocacy, education and research for its membership.

The Association of Waldorf Schools North America (AWSNA) is an organization dedicated to providing leadership to Waldorf Schools in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. AWSNA serves 144 members schools and 15 teacher training institutes by facilitating resources, networks and research.

“We made the decision to partner with SmithBucklin after a very deliberate and fact-based market assessment,” said Negley Norton, president of LSA. “The transition from our existing resources to SmithBucklin has been seamless and they have already found ways to add value to our business. I am very happy with our decision.”

“We are thrilled to provide standalone organizations like LSA, NAMA and AWSNA with high-impact, specialized outsourcing services,” said Teague. “SmithBucklin offers cost-effective, result-oriented and innovative financial management solutions customized for each client organization we serve.”

SmithBucklin also provides an array of other specialized outsourcing services, including event, trade show and convention management; advertising, exhibit and sponsorship sales; member retention, acquisition and engagement; online community building and social media; public relations; editorial and publishing; accreditation and certification program management and development; speaker programming; government relations/advocacy; product and service innovation; and a wide range of consulting services. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lone Ranger Syndrome

So, I forgot to post this article a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand the day after Mother’s Day is perfect for a column that talks about the plight of the suburban male. Okay “plight” might not be the right word but I have a theory that men are lousy at maintaing friendships and are the poorer and lonelier for it.

Theology on Tap

Men are lonely creatures. At least suburban men who work, commute, and have families. No self-respecting man would articulate this publicly since it sounds either whiny or weak but it’s true. We used to pride ourselves on our close friendships be it the “glory days” of high school or the keg-stand fraternity days of yore.

But that was before the big “R” of responsibility took over our lives. Work, marriage, children, pets, the yard. They’re all wonderful things — mostly. Over time, almost imperceptibly, however, they crowd out our male friendships and suddenly many of us find ourselves left with a bunch of acquaintances but little depth in our relationships.

From the male perspective, women just seem to be better at nurturing adult friendships. They meet friends for coffee, they volunteer together, they have work friends, they join book groups (or as I like to call them, wine drinking parties). My own wife certainly checks all these boxes and she’s happier for it.

Yes, this is a gross generalization but there does seem to be some truth here. A lot of men simply don’t have close friendships. Sure, we have buddies from our college days with whom we share fond memories, some printable, some not. But they generally live all over the country and, while there might be an annual golf outing or fishing trip, that’s hardly sustainable for the other 362 days of the year.

We nod to people on the commuter train and we’re on a first name basis with Jeff from Accounting. But the guard’s always up, the protective emotional armor is always donned. We work hard not to show weakness or vulnerability which is why we wear power suits and deflect intimacy with a quip or by sticking to safe topics like sports or carburetors.

But what about our humanity? Where do men go to talk about the things at the depths of our souls? Events like the bombing at the Boston Marathon bring our vulnerability to the fore and yet we have few outlets to process our emotions. So they get buried and fester until our hearts become fossilized or unhealthy behaviors emerge.

At my parish on the South Shore of Boston, we’re trying to remedy this by introducing a men’s group. Now, this won’t be your typical church men’s group where a bunch of guys get together in the nether regions of the church to gorge themselves on pancakes, give each other hugs, and tell themselves that Jesus was really a man’s man — someone to shoot pool with or hang out in the bleachers at Fenway.

We’re calling this venture Theology on Tap. We won’t meet at church but in the upstairs room at the Liberty Grille. We’ll grab a pint, listen to one another’s stories, and talk about a topic of interest. God’s just as present when a bunch of people gather in his name at a bar as at church on a Sunday morning (just don’t tell anyone).

This won’t solve all the problems of the world but hopefully it will chip away at the hardness of our hearts that has built up through the years. Hopefully, over time, it will provide an outlet for friendship and some conversations that get below the surface of everyday life. I encourage all of my fellow men to be intentional about seeking friendships that move beyond safe topics. You may feel vulnerable at first but it sure beats the usual hunting and gathering.

Monday, April 29, 2013

World of Golf New Malden appoints Westgate Communications

World of Golf New Malden has appointed Westgate Communications to undertake a PR launch and profile-raising programme following its recent re-build.

World of Golf New Malden is a golf range in the South East which has 60 revamped and heated bays and innovative target greens. The PR programme will target a wide-range of trade, consumer and regional media, both on and offline.

Helen Westgate, director and founder of Westgate Communications said: “World of Golf New Malden has given us a really great brief to raise its media profile and we’re really thrilled to be working on this brief which will also promote golf as one of the most popular sports in the UK.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Obama Launches BRAIN Initiative to Map the Human Brain

Go, Big Science! On Tuesday the president unveiled his BRAIN initiative, aimed at unlocking the mysteries of the human brain. Eliza Shapiro reports on the project’s potential ethical implications.

We may not be colonizing Mars or putting another man on the moon, but the Obama administration took its first step toward Big Science innovation on Tuesday when it unveiled the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, along with a $100 million kick-start.

The BRAIN initiative’s goal is just as lofty as space travel: understanding and mapping the human brain.

“As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away,” Obama said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears.”

The scientific community has largely responded to the project with delight.

“I think this is a fantastic, historic day,” said Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize–winning neuropsychiatrist at Columbia University.

Kandel and his peers were skeptical when they first heard about the project, worried that funding for small projects would be diverted to the federal program and that the project lacked structure, he said. But now he feels the project is in “excellent hands,” he added.

He also emphasized the potential the BRAIN initiative has globally. “Unlike going to the moon, this is an international enterprise,” he said. “If you cure Parkinson’s in New York City, you cure it all over the world.”

While the initiative has no specific set of goals or endpoint yet, a blueprint for the project was laid out in a recent article in Neuron, a neuroscience journal. It called for new technologies for 3-D brain imaging, novel ways of diagnosing and assessing neurological illnesses, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, and therapies for schizophrenia and autism.

The Obama administration is partnering on the initiative with the National Institutes of Health, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Department's research arm), and the National Science Foundation, as well as four private research institutes: the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Kavli Foundation, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

But why focus on the brain now, with immigration reform, gun control, and the sequester to worry about?

Dr. Clay Reid, a senior investigator at the Allen Institute and a Harvard Medical School professor, says it’s simply an “unprecedented time for neuroscience.”

“It’s all happening at once, and for a good reason,” he said. “There are new electrical, optical, and genetic techniques, and the world is being energized by these capabilities. The ability to look into a living brain and literally see the activity of 1,000 different neurons is a dream come true for people who have been in the business for a while.”

While Obama’s announcement was met mostly with praise, some are questioning the ethical implications of new neuroimaging technology, despite Obama’s pledge that his bioethics team will supervise all research.

“The Brain Activity Map Project [BRAIN’s unofficial name] wants to understand how our brains do what it is that they do,” Luke Dittrich wrote in a recent issue of Esquire, “but it just so happens that the technology the project will develop to gain this understanding could also be used to make our brains do whatever they want. Wirelessly. From a distance.”

Dittrich argued that the human brain is too complicated to be studied thoroughly with preexisting technologies. He pointed to sections of the Neuron article that indicate “it will ultimately become feasible to deploy small wireless microcircuits, untethered in living brains, for direct monitoring of neuronal activity.”

“The truth is, most major scientific breakthroughs,” Dittrich wrote, “like the human minds that give birth to them, have light and dark sides. And some of those dark sides are darker than others.”

There are a wealth of potential ethical issues involved in how people access and alter their own brains, said Dr. Nita Farahany, a bioethicist at Duke University and a member of Obama’s Commission on Bioethical Issues.

The commission will focus on the governmental and military uses of possible imaging technology, she said, and called for an “ongoing ethical component” to the BRAIN initiative, which may span decades.

Comparisons with that other Big Science project—the Human Genome Project, launched in 1984—intended to clarify the scope of the BRAIN initiative are misleading, experts say.

The cost of the Human Genome Project, $3.8 billion, far exceeded the initial round of funding for the BRAIN initiative. And Kandel said the goal of the Genome Project, to map all genes in human DNA, was much clearer than BRAIN.

“We knew the endpoint,” Kandel said. “But here, we don’t know what the goal is. What does it mean to understand the human mind? When will we be satisfied? This is much, much more ambitious.”

And that’s a good thing, he said.

“This is a bold, creative, wonderful experiment.”

Monday, March 18, 2013

Obama to nominate Tom Perez as next Labor Secretary

President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, as his next labor secretary, a White House official said.

Perez, a Harvard-educated civil rights attorney whose nomination was championed by Hispanic groups, would replace Hilda Solis, who resigned in January.

Obama has been criticized for a lack of diversity in his Cabinet choices so far, particularly by Latinos, who are an influential voting bloc and have pushed for more representation in government.

If confirmed by the Senate, Perez, the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republican, will take on a prominent role in the Cabinet as Obama seeks to raise the minimum wage and advance immigration reform, two key pledges he made at the beginning of his second term.
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The White House described Perez as a pragmatist who led the Justice Department in settling three major cases on behalf of families targeted by unfair mortgage lending practices, and who stepped up enforcement of human trafficking laws.

But Perez is expected to face tough scrutiny from Republicans. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already voiced concerns.

An internal government investigation released last week found the Justice Department office that enforces voting laws - part of the civil rights division overseen by Perez - has been beset by political infighting.

The report, by the Justice Department's Inspector General, was critical of Perez for what it called an incomplete statement he gave in 2010 about a case of alleged voter intimidation.

Perez began his career as a civil rights prosecutor at the Justice Department, and later was head of the civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services.

He spent time working as a special counsel to the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy on civil rights issues.

Perez served in local government in the Washington suburb of Montgomery County, Maryland. Later, he was labor secretary in Maryland's state government, where he worked on reforms for state lending and foreclosure rules.

His wife, Ann Marie Staudenmaier, is a lawyer with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.