What’s in a Name? Introducing the Candidate Advocate Working Group

by Laura Hemmer, FCAS

Recently, the CAS has undertaken an effort to update and streamline the Society’s governance structure, including a look at the standing volunteer committees. The goal is to make sure that CAS volunteers are being deployed as effectively as possible. Volunteers are giving up their time, so it should be utilized in a way that leverages their expertise to advance the CAS’ goals.  

Of course, right away the CAS recognized that the need for the Candidate Liaison Committee (CLC) remained. For many years, the CLC has served as the eyes, ears, and voice of the candidate within the CAS. The committee acts as a conduit of information between the candidates and the CAS; we provide feedback and advocate for the candidate viewpoint to the CAS, and we often give input to the CAS on how to shape messages for candidates. Unique among CAS committees, the CLC has non-CAS members (known as candidate representatives – people currently taking exams but not yet CAS Associates), to give a true candidate voice to the Society. Operationally, the CLC produces four issues of Future Fellows each year, and recently has also begun surveying the candidate pool to gain a broader view of candidate feedback on a variety of topics.  

While it was clear that the need for the CLC remains, we are making a few adjustments to align the committee with the CAS’s new Volunteer-Staff Model. The first is a name change; all committees below the Board of Directors level are now being renamed to working groups. Thus, the CLC will now be known as the Candidate Advocate Working Group (CAWG). This new name also reflects that the CLC now does more than just liaise; we really do actively advocate for the candidate point of view. Additionally, the CAWG now has both a volunteer chair (me — Laura Hemmer) and a staff chair (Stephanie Litrenta, Candidate Engagement Manager). While this seems new, Stephanie has been working with our group for the past several years and has been instrumental in helping us with our achievements. The staff chair title just reflects the work that Stephanie was already doing.

We are making one more change to the CAWG. Previously the CLC was housed under the Exams & Admissions umbrella, but the CAWG has now moved to the Marketing & Communications, and Engagement umbrella. This move made sense as for some time we have done more than focus on exams. It also allows for greater continuity of our engagement strategies with stakeholders throughout the life cycle of their connection to CAS — from high school student through retiree. While exam and admissions feedback are still a large part of our focus, we, for example, also write Future Fellows articles on transitioning to the workplace and general CAS and P&C topics. We already have plans to work with two other Marketing & Communications teams next year — the University Engagement Working Group and the International Member Services Task Force. We are excited to officially bring a candidate voice to other initiatives at the CAS. But, of course, we will still maintain our strong connection to Admissions, and we still have a liaison on the Syllabus and Examinations Working Group.

Though our name has changed, we on the working group remain committed to serving candidates and bringing your feedback to the CAS. If you have thoughts, questions, or comments for the CAWG to hear, please email us at CAWG@casact.org.