Meet CEC’s New Executive Director Alexander T. Graham

CEC Today:  Welcome to CEC.

AG:  Thanks, it’s great to be here.

CEC Today:  Tell us a little bit about your professional life before joining CEC.

AG:  My background is in association management.  Most recently, I was executive director of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), which advocates for independence through listening and talking and supports families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing and the professionals who serve them.

CEC Today:  What are some of the things you accomplished at AG Bell that you’re most proud of?

AG:   I worked with AG Bell’s volunteer leadership to expand membership, improve education and training offerings, launch an innovative web-based service delivery model, implement a professional certification program, and lead effective public affairs initiatives that have made an impact on the lives of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

CEC Today:  You’ve been on board for about a month now, so you’ve had some time to get to know CEC, its leadership, and its membership.  What are you most excited about as you look toward CEC’s future?

AG:  Well, it’s a time of great challenges for all nonprofit organizations, and CEC is no exception.  We are working within a changing public policy landscape, shifting demographics as the Baby Boomers transition out of the field, and our membership is dealing with tremendous demands to provide services for an increasingly diverse student population. I don’t see those as negative things, but as great opportunities for CEC in how we meet the needs of today’s members while paving the way for future professionals.

CEC Today:  What are some specific ideas you have for the growth of CEC?

AG:  I’m a strong believer in forging as many strategic partnerships as possible inside and outside the education community, so that will be a focus for me.  We’re looking into new sponsorship opportunities so we can continue to provide our members with the very best resources possible. Overall, we’re going to be focusing on our members, their different needs, what benefits and services we’re offering them to meet those needs and how we can constantly do a better job of that. 

CEC Today:  What’s the best way to understand CEC members’ needs?

AG:  We need to make sure we have an engaging relationship with our members and do a lot of listening. Having worked with people who don’t take listening for granted has taught me a lot.  You’ll see us doing a lot more focus groups and quick surveys to really get at where our members “pain points” lie.  It’s CEC’s role to provide the solutions to their challenges and the answers to their questions.

CEC Today:  Is improving delivery of content to CEC members a priority for you? 

AG:    Yes, you’ll see us moving more into the mobile realm whenever possible.  It’s an exciting environment, and we need to be there, but first and foremost we need to make things easy for our members and stakeholders. Our challenge is not to overwhelm our members with too many messages in too many different forms. Whatever mobile strategies we choose will have our members at the center of the planning and delivery to ensure that accessing our information is easy and not too time-consuming.

CEC Today:  What drew you to the position here at CEC?

AG:  CEC’s mission, its talented staff and its vibrant and diverse community of members and volunteer leaders. Also, one of the key driving forces for me is that I have two teenagers with learning disabilities and I know firsthand the critical role that special education professionals have played in helping them reach their potential. I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for the work CEC members do, and I’m delighted and honored to be a part of this great organization.