In July 2019, I embarked on a new journey to build my anti-money laundering (AML) career and step outside my comfort zone. The ACAMS Carolinas Chapter sought three experienced professionals with a communications background and a strong desire to support the local chapter with event planning and social media. I had been a part of the ACAMS Carolinas Chapter for many years but had very little exposure to social media, advertising and event planning. But I decided to go for it! I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I submitted my application and shared my ideas on improving the chapter’s following and social media posture.
To my surprise, the Carolinas Chapter welcomed two other applicants and me as associate board members, dedicated to communications and event planning. Little did I know that I would be directly interacting with top industry talent and executives in North and South Carolina. The Carolinas Chapter has taken me under its wing and has given me countless opportunities to lead and engage. I have limited technical skills, yet, after several “how-to” videos, I was able to pull off the creation of our chapter website from scratch using Wix.com. The site features the board lineup, upcoming events and event blog.1 I have also had the privilege of working alongside two instrumental board members: Beth Herron and Heather Allen. Beth has helped me learn the ins and outs of LinkedIn, and Heather has taught me all about event planning and ticket sales through Eventbrite and working with ACAMS staff regarding event communication.
It takes several months and a solid year of planning to host a single chapter event. Board member Peter Wild is the master of keeping the entire Carolinas Chapter organized and laser-focused on each month’s topic, sponsors, speakers and logistics. Each month, chapter co-chair Megan Hodge leads the team and ensures all hands are on deck working together. I often hear her say, “Who can take this one?” or “Do we have a volunteer for that?” I feel myself holding my breath sometimes as the entire board works together and the clock ticks down to the next event. There are so many moving parts and logistical timelines. There is even a post-event process where the associate board summarizes the event and posts the event summary, materials and pictures on the chapter blog. Sometimes there is also a board debrief, especially for in-person events, to understand what went well or what can be improved. As the year draws to a close, the entire board pulls together again to brainstorm events for the following year. It is an opportunity for everyone to share ideas openly on how the chapter can continue to evolve, grow membership and continue to engage the audience with relevant but interesting topics.
Being on the Carolinas Chapter board has been a great way to grow my professional network and sharpen my hard and soft skills. I told a colleague recently that I have felt myself grow personally and professionally over the past two years, and in retrospect, much of that is attributed to my involvement with the Carolinas Chapter. It has opened my eyes to the value and importance of each local ACAMS Chapter. Local chapters are a great way to learn, earn Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credits, network and get involved in something greater than yourself. Hopefully, in 2022, local chapters will begin hosting live events again. The Carolinas Chapter is discussing networking opportunities to allow members to interact and share industry ideas.
Prior to joining the board, I had no idea the magnitude of the work and planning that goes into each chapter. ACAMS Chapter boards are completely comprised of all volunteers, and it truly takes the entire board working together in lockstep to pull off each event. The next time you join a local ACAMS Chapter event, I encourage you to reach out to a board chair or a board member and thank them for the hard work and relentless hours they spend pulling together a relevant program and industry experts to create the best experience possible.
Interested professionals can volunteer their time by joining a local chapter board. For more information, send an inquiry to ACAMS Chapter Relations at email@example.com. In the inquiry, the professional should specify which ACAMS Chapter board they would like to join. ACAMS will help get the inquiry to the right chapter individuals to see if there are any open board positions. The professional should also express their desire to volunteer their time, why they can help and be prepared to provide their resume in the inquiry. If the professional has a specific role in mind, like being the chapter secretary, the professional should let the chapter board know this as well. There are so many roles to fill and many opportunities to be a trusted ally.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work on the Carolinas Chapter board and will do all I can to help raise our chapter to the next level and continuously improve each event. I challenge interested ACAMS members to join me in this quest!
Iris Smith, CAMS-Audit, associate board member, ACAMS Carolinas Chapter, chief AML and Sanctions Officer, TIAA, NC, USA
- “ACAMS Carolina Chapter,” ACAMS Carolina Chapter, ACAMSCarolinasChapter.com