TMA Selects Celia Besore to Become Next Executive Director
Celia Besore will succeed Jay Hauhn, who is retiring Oct. 31, becoming the first woman to serve as executive director of TMA.
VIENNA, Va. — Eye down a list of professional accomplishments earned by Celia Besore and you will find nary a stop at an alarm or monitoring company. And yet she would seem a hand-in-glove fit to become the next executive director of The Monitoring Association (TMA).
Since January 2017 Besore has served as vice president of membership and programs for TMA. But her tenure with the association runs much deeper. In 2010, she resigned from her role as vice president of marketing and programs after having served the formerly named CSAA for 11 years.
Besore was recently selected by the TMA Board of Directors to fill the executive director position following the retirement of Jay Hauhn, who will officially step down Oct. 31. Besore went through a formal application-interview process, along with other candidates, to be considered for the leadership appointment.
“Frankly, choosing Celia to lead TMA was an easy choice,” TMA President Ivan Spector stated in a press release. “Throughout the years that I have known her, she has been a tireless advocate for the association. Her energy, passion and enthusiasm for the industry will spur TMA to grow to the next level in a rapidly changing landscape.”
Helping cement her qualifications for the role — becoming the first woman to serve as the association’s executive director — is a strong academic background and multiple professional affiliations. Besore earned a Certified Association Executive credential from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), along with an MBA from George Mason University. She is a recognized association management community leader, volunteering considerable time to ASAE programs, including the Diversity Executive Leadership Program for which she serves as a mentor.
In the following exclusive Q&A with SSI, Besore delves into short- and long-term goals, and some of the tasks she views as necessary for the future success of the association and its membership.
What are you looking to achieve in the short run?
In the short run I see more of an evolution of what I have been doing into a more strategic thinking about membership. I am still going to partner with the board, the volunteers and my colleagues to promote the association.
When we changed the association name some people who thought they understood what CSAA was about have kind of forgotten who we are. In the short term I see my role as continuing to tell the TMA story. We are still an association of full-service, UL-listed monitoring and security companies, but we also now welcome anyone that is unlisted and may be monitoring or installing things that are beyond intrusion and fire.
If you offer monitoring, whether in-house or whether through contract monitoring, we are still the association for you. I will continue to share our mission our message with everybody. Short- or long-term this is always going to be the case.
Part of my role is to talk to the members, listen to what they are saying, listen to their needs and then bring that information to the board and the volunteers so that we develop the programs and services that we need to offer. The board is full of very smart people that know so much more than I will ever know about the industry and technology.
You are filling some pretty big shoes succeeding Jay Hauhn, an SSI Industry Hall of Famer I might add.
Jay is such a highly respected and well-known person in the industry. One of the things I am really excited about is — and that he is already actively doing— is staying committed to us. He wants this association to continue to be successful and he is very supportive, as well as is the board. As I make this transition, I know that I can count on them. I am really very happy to see the support that I am getting.
How do your experiences outside the security realm inform your work with TMA and industry stakeholders?
I see myself as being from the industry, but at the same time outside the industry. My contact with the industry has always been through CSAA and now TMA. So I believe that while I am a part of the industry in many ways, I am able to also bring an outsider viewpoint.
I have been able to talk to other associations in other industries — some of them slightly related, some of them completely unrelated — that are going through major disruption in their industries similarly to us. Some of them have learned to manage and navigate all this disruption we are all experiencing and that it has made their industry and their association stronger. When our members collaborate as part of an association it is the power of many. And you come up with better solutions than if you are alone.
When you have relationships with people that are related to your industry and also outside your industry, you can find solutions and ideas to use for our members. That is why I believe relationships are critical.
For example, we have worked hard to develop relationships with the AHJs. If we had never gotten close to them and come to understand their issues, they would never understand our issues or understand how serious our members take their responsibility of protecting their customers’ lives and safety.
We are not isolated. Our industry is not in a bubble. We are surrounded by what other industries are experiencing. If we don’t have those relationships we will not do well. I want us to thrive. We truly believe that we are the best of the best. In order to do that we need to engage and we need to learn more each day and listen to not only our members but also people from the outside.
For those who are not familiar with you what is something you would like them to know about you?
Those people that know me know that I am a very determined person. I am not a quitter. I am very persistent. When I believe in something I put my whole heart behind it. I intend to put the same passion and dedication to my new role. I need to learn a lot. Since I came back I have been scheduling what I call “One-on-Ones With Members” and asking strategic questions. My goal is to talk to every single company within my first year, very quickly. I want them to understand that I am very honored and I am taking this position very seriously.
I want people to feel very comfortable telling me the good and the bad, because if I never hear the bad we can never improve. I want them to know I am not alone. I have the board. I have the volunteers. I have my wonderful teammates. We are all going to be working real hard to do our best. That’s what I want them to know.
It is not going to be easy. There are challenges. There will be days when I mess up. Sometimes in order to get ahead we will try things that may fail. But we also cannot be afraid of trying and innovating. We are going to do whatever we have to do, with the resources we have, to do better each day.
As you take a long-view look at the association’s future, talk about a particular challenge that intrigues you.
We want to grow. When you think about what is happening with the Internet of Things and all these new technologies, there is going to be such an onslaught of information. I see our association and our industry as almost being the gatekeepers of the information as it relates to security, property protection, location, whatever it is.
In the long-term I would like to have an association that includes engaged companies [from across the technological landscape].
I have talked to a lot of our members in the last year and a half and one of them said, “A signal coming in is a signal.” We are going to have so many things that can be potentially monitored. I see in the long-term an association composed of companies that are experts on receiving information from customers and helping facilitate their lifestyles. Of course, a great part of that will be security. I still feel our industry will still be engaged in protecting lives and property.
That is what I see the association moving toward. I think it is going to be a very different association. I see the need for much more education and I know that is one of the priorities of the board. We are going to put a lot of emphasis in education. We are going to have to find ways of communicating with our members. We are going to have to figure out a way of getting our message out in new ways.
Another challenge I see coming up is how we keep members engaged. People’s lives are so busy. Just joining an association on its own is not going to give you the value. The value is in participation and attending the meetings. One of the challenges for the future is how we keep our members engaged when there is so much going on in their daily lives and at their companies.
It is not going to be easy but we need to figure out a way to continue to evolve like we have done throughout our history and continue to be relevant and of value. It is not going to be easy. We are not alone. We are all in the same boat.
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