Special Feature: Interview with Alan Kidd
19 Mar, 2017By: Mary Helen Sprecher
SDM Catches Up with the New NASC Executive Director
Following a lengthy search, the National Associations of Sports Commissions named Alan Kidd its next executive director. Kidd officially takes over his duties at the Association on March 20, 2017, and will be present at the next NASC Symposium in Sacramento, California. He takes over for Don Schumacher, CSEE, who has been with the Association since start-up.
Sports Destination Management recently had the chance to play its own version of “Twenty Questions” (okay, to be honest, it was only about a dozen questions) with Kidd, regarding his plans for NASC and the future.
Sports Destination Management: You will be taking over an association that represents an industry on the grow. What are you doing to prepare?
Alan Kidd: I feel like I’m knee-deep in alligators right now. Today, I’m spending the time looking at financials. I really want to hit the ground running.
SDM: Was the interview process rigorous?
Kidd: Philosophically and politically speaking, it was an interesting process to go through.
SDM: Do you have big changes planned for NASC?
Kidd: What a loaded question! When I was first working in marketing, one thing I learned early was changes and influences of the different demographics. I was fascinated with futurists. I had meetings with them; it really was a mind-opening thing.
As background, my generation was the anti-authoritarian, anti-war group. As that age group gets into power, they are stirring things up. Look at all that is going on in the world: Brexit, things happening on all levels in the U.S; you can see the thinking. I would say there’s a lot of interest in not having business as usual.
SDM: What sort of changes are you thinking about?
Kidd: This is not just about doing a job. My thinking is all around becoming even more relevant than we are now. NASC is at a point where it’s ready to step up to the next level. I want us to take a bigger stand on our mission, and on our role in that.
SDM: In your past work, what sort of changes were you interested in making and how did you implement them?
Kidd: When I worked in San Diego, there were three segments in our goals: getting more women into the sports industry, bringing sports into San Diego and investing time in programs benefitting challenged athletes. I think some of these are important with NASC, too
Something that was really important to me in San Diego was looking at overall youth education. Teaching high school and younger students the important aspects of sports gives you information about life skills, sportsmanship, competition and more – and all those things are going to be important. I would have to say I come predisposed to that.
SDM: Sounds like an ambitious agenda. What else?
Kidd: Club sports have generated a new genre around tournaments. That’s really affecting economic impact.
SDM: That is true. The National Association of Intramural Sports (NIRSA), for example, recorded excellent growth of sports at the club and intramural level. On a broader scale, what do you see as NASC’s goals?
Kidd: I’d like to see our members get involved with more international events and I’d certainly like to see NASC more deeply involved with youth programs at both the tournament level and a local market level. All those things are at the top of my list.
SDM: You mentioned earlier your predisposition toward organizations that benefitted youth, and your past work with groups for challenged athletes. Do you think NASC’s work folds into that, such as with the Sports Legacy Fund that is promoted at the Symposium?
Kidd: I see it as another one of the opportunities I would like to promote. The whole Legacy program could become an endowment. One thing I have learned is that when corporate sponsors get involved, there is a significant upside. We can build around that. It’s one of the things I’m going to look at and get into right away.
SDM: The Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) program has been one of NASC’s most popular programs. Do you foresee changes to that?
Kidd: I would say my vision goes beyond that – we have to decide what the purpose of education is. Does it help someone get a pay raise? Does it help someone get a job? We should be making our education program worthy of the letters that someone puts next to their name. This is just one of the little building blocks that create relevance for us. We need to ask ourselves: do we think this is a profit center or a cost? That’s what I’ve been brought in for: to take a look at everything.
In the past, I have tended to run non-profit organizations as though they were a for-profit company, looking at opportunities for new programs and better membership benefits, the ability to add more staff and so on. You want growth that is sustainable. A lot of boards get squeamish when you talk about profit and revenue because, honestly, all those ideas will cost money. Some will be successful and some will not. Part of my job will be finding new sustainable revenue. How can we increase sustainable membership value, fortify staff needs and more?
SDM: In the marketplace itself, will you work on forging alliances with other organizations?
Kidd: I believe in inclusivity and in trying to build partnerships with groups that may not have a partnership with NASC. Philosophically, I don’t have rose-colored glasses on but I don’t focus on the differences between organizations; I focus on common ground. If you can’t find common ground, I’m in favor of respectful relationships.
SDM: It sounds like you’re ready to start making changes.
Kidd: We as an organization need every tool and every delivery channel we can get. We are starting with a clean slate – and I don’t mean that to be in any way disrespect to previous management or goals. We have our eyes wide open and we need to reset the barometer and do everything we can for the benefit of our membership. I can say this much: I’ll never hide from anything and I’ll always be accessible to people. SDM