It’s Thanksgiving.  As we turn off the lights in our remote offices this week and prepare to sit down for a much-altered holiday dinner, we will reflect back on a year that brought much loss and anxiety.  A year that forced many of us to recast our vision of the short-term and to try to grasp its long-term implications.

But there is much positive as well.  This was also a year of stolen time, when forced solitude focused us in on the beautiful sunsets, the quietness of a world without taxi horns and airport noise. The summer sun moved around the house as we worked in makeshift offices.  We could catch a glimpse of the beaty of the autumn sunlight on a garden that would have been cloaked in darkness after we journeyed home on a long commute.  When our eyes darted away from our Zoom screens, we could view a world through different lenses. We found stolen time with people we actually lived with; we learned new hobbies, established more balanced priorities, and created a new vision of work and life.

In spite of it all – the pandemic, the politics, the civil unrest, the never-ending news cycle – there will be so much good that comes out of this year. We still have much to be thankful for not only in our personal lives but in our professional lives as well.

Having the honor of serving as the chair of NYSAE this year, I am very thankful for the volunteer members who give so much to our organization to make all of us better professionals. I see giving every day.  Our volunteer NYSAE members who plan programs, share knowledge, and recruit members all give endless hours to build this organization into the best it can be to support our members and those who will come in the future.  Supported by Holly Koenig and the Kellen team, our organization has seen amazing growth and innovation in the past year.

NYSAE has built a home for professionals to be role models, mentors, sounding boards for the benefit of all of us doing the same work in the association world.  I have witnessed mentors bestow real life experiences and lessons, open professional doors, make introductions.  I have seen young professionals both be inspired and also offer new viewpoints and perspectives that are better defining this organization for the future.

I am thankful that NYSAE provides a vehicle to develop those relationships that help us navigate our careers, help us climb the ladders, reach the milestones, and recalibrate if anything goes awry.  I have seen mentors devote time away from their busy careers.  I have seen members be guides to help others discover the potency of their own talents.

I see our members sharing their war stories, offering encouragement, exchanging job opportunities, serving as references, using the power of their own individual connections for the good of our organization. And thanks to technology, this has not diminished in the past year.

Psychologists say that being grateful is a relationship strengthening emotion.  It requires us to recognize how our success has been augmented by the support of others. We are all part of something greater than ourselves.  That is the purpose of an association.  That is the purpose of NYSAE.

So as we alter our rituals and guest lists this Thanksgiving and sit down to dinner amidst the angst and sorrow of a challenging year, we have hope that we will soon come out on the other side of these challenges.  All of the strife of this past year cannot rob us of our gratitude for those who have come into our lives along the way and made us better people and better professionals.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


Joanne S. Barry, CAE

CEO/Executive Director, New York State Society of CPAs