As you may or may not be aware, one of our directors – Fausto – has the exciting news that following the recent election he is now the President-Elect of the Access Association!
In honour of this appointment, we thought it would be nice to sit down with him to ask about the election process and how he intends to continue the success of the association.
Hi Fausto! Congratulations on the new role!
Q: How are you feeling about it?
A: Thank you very much! I’m really excited about the appointment – I’ve worked with the Association in various capacities for many years, so to be elected President is fantastic!
Q: I see! So what roles have you taken in the Association prior to assuming this role as President?
A: So I’ve been a registered Access Consultant for around 20-odd years now, and a member of the Northeast region for a similar time.
For over five years now I’ve also been a representative of the North-East region in the Association’s National Council, which was really an extension of the several other roles I’ve had in the past.
Q: What were you doing in those roles?
A: Hmm, a lot of different stuff to be honest – I was a member of a Technical Group which provided technical advice to the group, the co-lead of the Articles of Association group which reviewed all the governance documents and I was a Social Media co-ordinator for a while.
Q: A Social Media co-ordinator? You?
A: Yes! I’m a man of the unexpected – the member who was dealing with it could not continue so I took over for a short period. Despite my very advanced age (so I am told by my children) I quite enjoyed the technology.
Q: Point taken! Any other experience that equips you for the role?
A: A few things here and there –
From a technical point of view, I am also a Registered Access Consultant with the NRAC and a High Court Expert witness on the accommodation needs of people with disabilities.
From a management perspective, I am one of the founders of the architectural practice PH Partnership and co-lead the team there.
Q: So, to my calculations, that makes about (22 years) of experience with the association? When did you start wanting to qualify for President?
A: Good question! I mean, as you can tell, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of being a long-standing member and contributor to the Association, so I have a deep understanding of the organisation and its objectives. Looking forward, I wanted to take the opportunity to continue the work I’ve seen over the years, safeguard the future of the Association, and look to develop its influence.
Q: Ah, so your eye is really on the future?
A: With one eye on the past, yes – the Association is only what it is today because of the hugely successful work of recent presidents. I want to continue pushing that forward because I see first-hand how the organisation still holds so much relevance and importance for the present and future.
Q: Good point – so what has really impressed you about the Association over the years? What do you want to continue?
A: Wow, there’s so much! The profile of the Association has obviously grown steadily over the years, and I want to continue pushing that forward – particularly through contributions to consultations on legislation and standards etc.
And, naturally, I want to continue using the Association’s platform to raise awareness about the importance of Inclusive Design, and the barriers that disabled people face. That aim is really at the heart of the organisation, and what I’ve been inspired to think about in new and innovative ways.
Q: Ah, so tell me more about how you’ll continue building that awareness? I sense that some of those methods might change from the past?
A: I think I’ll need to use my social media skills more – don’t laugh! – particularly to expand a sense of the Association’s ‘voice’, and broadcast our aims and motivations more widely.
We will also continue to organise seminars and networking events as well as creating opportunities for mentorship and capacity building.
Q: Ah, so you’re an events manager now too?
A: Cheeky! You forget I will have the support of the association behind me – there are regional groups across the country that I’ll be in constant contact with, and I want to develop some strategies to encourage the lesser active regions to increase involvement. I also want to develop contact with other Access organisations (both nationally and internationally) so that we are all exchanging information and experiences.
Q: Of course, and I know there is a lot of collaborative work within the association, right?
A: 100%! And I’d like there to be more of that. Particularly in cases where the association is updating general governance matters, I want to develop the input of the National Council and its members. Even outside of the association, I’d like to foster that kind of collaboration between stakeholders from various sectors and encourage partnerships to form between members of the government, private industry individuals, and disabled people. I really think it’s only by bringing organisations from various sectors together that we can effectively promote our best practices.
Q: Totally agreed, I really like that collaborative angle! Last question, and bringing it back to you, what are you really excited to contribute to the association?
A: Oo I mean I think I have quite a thorough work style, and I want the chance to ascertain what does and doesn’t work in current policy. I want to particularly take a more active role in monitoring the effectiveness of current guidance, legislation, practices, and policies. From there, I want to channel my passion for the organisation into advocating for policy changes – ultimately to ensure that disabled people can participate fully in society. That aim is really what we’re all here for, and I’m excited to let all of my previous experience in the association inform how we move forward!
Q: And with that, thank you so much Fausto! Really appreciate you giving the time to chat with me today.
A: Of course, it was a great opportunity!