posted on behalf of member Melissa George Kessler

A core value of the organization development field is community. We are not just members of a profession – we are colleagues who open up to one another, support each other and build on each other’s ideas in ways that are fundamental to our success with clients and in life.

Among AU/NTL and AU MSOD alumni, though, there’s a huge and in many ways practical impediment to building this community: we don’t really know where we all are.

Of course, each of us has kept up with friends from our cohorts, we all have developed professional networks, we see each other here or there at workshops or happy hours or conferences. But there’s no comprehensive list of people who have been through the unique experience of the MSOD and how to get ahold of them.

While the AU MSOD program office, AU alumni office and the AU•NTL Association each maintain databases, none are complete or fully updated, and there are real legal and logistical challenges to syncing them up to create a better overall product.

At the same time, there’s a finite number of us – about 1,700. So this lack of information is not only a problem for creating community, it is a problem that can be largely solved using the miracles of the internet and old-fashioned networking.

Having experienced the challenges this brings personally and in leading OD organizations since entering the MSOD five years ago, I’ve decided its time to tackle it – independently of any organization, yet with the goal of sharing whatever information I can find with those three entities and other allied groups, formal and informal, who want to know where their people are.

The search has started with members of my personal network, forwarding to members of their networks, asking those who want to be included on a “comprehensive MSOD contact list” to send me at my email (melissa@kessix.com):

– full name, current and any other name used during the program
– cohort number
– city/state/country
– phone number
– email address

For those who aren’t comfortable with the information being recorded and shared, the ask is to let me know, so we – the crowdsourced effort of finding us all – will stop looking for you!

I truly believe this effort will be successful if the first 20 people send to 20 people each, and those people send to 20 people each, and those people send to 20 people each.

Indeed, the results of this are already coming in; over the first two weeks, I heard from 40 alums representing cohorts twenty-something to seventy-something and got some very valuable tips on where to find names and contact information for others.

While we may not find every last one of us, if each of us reaches into our networks and forwards this request, we’ll soon have a list 1,000 strong – and that’s one hell of a happy hour.

– Melissa George Kessler was a member of cohort 64 and now works as the communications director for a trade association and in her independent practice. She can be reached – related to this project or otherwise – at melissa@kessix.com.

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