PSAI 2015 Goals

Since becoming the executive director of Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI) a year ago, Karleen Kos has set the association on a path of outreach and growth. We asked her about the direction of the association and her plans.

What are your goals for PSAI?
My goal is to be the best staff executive I can be for the PSAI at this phase of its development. In a nutshell, I’m here to advance the mission of the PSAI, working with and through our member companies. The PSAI mission is to:
• Increase understanding of the role portable sanitation can play in addressing global public health challenges.
• Expand and improve portable sanitation facilities worldwide.
• Serve as the authority within our industry in establishing and evolving best practices.
• Assist members in building successful businesses and serving as respected community partners.

In order to put the mission into action, in March of 2014 I assisted the Board of Directors in adopting a strategic plan covering four major initiatives. These include:
• Engaging in strategic dissemination of public information and advocacy of portable sanitation as part of the solution to the world’s sanitation issues.
• Moving the industry forward through the development and adoption of industry standards and guidance on best practices.
• Improvement and modernization of training and credentialing within the portable sanitation industry.
• Supporting members’ business success.

We also have some inward-focused goals around improving the operations of the association and enhancing benefits available to members. For more detail on some of our specific projects, please review the plan posted on our website here

What did you do before becoming ED for PSAI?
I have spent my career leading non-profit organizations including charities, mental health facilities and professional associations. Most recently I was vice president of member and industry relations for the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering based in Tampa, FL. ISPE is a large individual member association serving professionals striving to manufacture safe, effective medicines for the world’s patients.

How did your experience prepare you for this role?
If I am an expert in anything, it is in helping non-profit organizations move to the next level of development. This skill set transfers across a wide range of missions. For example, in my career I’ve held leadership roles with community-based and residential mental health organizations, a ministry addressing homelessness, and a major charity working to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease.

I’ve also served as a volunteer leader with animal charities, churches and political groups. All of this, in addition to my work with ISPE gave me a wide range of experiences I can apply at the PSAI. Each of these other organizations was staffed by very gifted people in their mission fields, but often they lacked the expertise to develop a plan for taking things to the next level. That’s where people with my skills come in. The many diverse experiences I’ve had in those other organizations provide me with a vast set of tools for working with the PSAI on everything from strategic and operational planning to messaging, government relations and fundraising.

I will never be the most knowledgeable person on portable sanitation–that’s always going to come from our members. They’ve hired me to bring skills and knowledge that don’t come from within this industry. Together we can make a powerful difference.

What challenges do you see for the industry?

The portable sanitation industry provides a very necessary and valuable set of services, but these services are not well understood or appreciated by the market. In developed countries, this leads to devaluing portable sanitation and a lack of respect for what we do. The result is a host of challenges–from difficulty hiring staff to gaining acceptance for prices that support high quality operations and a fair profit. In countries where poor sanitation leads to physical dangers, disease and death, the lack of understanding means that portable sanitation is often overlooked as part of the solution to these problems.

How do you meet those challenges?

Our strategic plan was specifically designed to address them. We believe that:
• increasing awareness of portable sanitation as part of the solution to the world’s sanitation and water supply issues will lead to greater acceptance.
• providing education both inside and outside the industry and improving industry standards will help raise the bar on services, strengthen the industry as an employer of choice and delight customers.
• supporting members’ business success will grow skills and provide resources that help these companies as effective community partners, wherever they may be located, thus fueling a “righteous cycle” of goodwill and good experiences for everyone.

What do you see happening with PSAIin 2015?
We’re going to continue working on the goals and deliverables in our plan. Specifically:
• We expect to engage the industry in adopting a voluntary Code of Excellence and gaining support for its provisions.
• We will be reviewing and modernizing our certification and training programs. Over the next few years our ultimate goal is to ensure
they reflect current best practices and are fully accessible to companies and individuals in a variety of settings.
• We are confident our Annual Convention and Trade Show slated for March 25-28, 2015 in Nashville will be the best ever. For the education days we have secured some impressive speakers on topics portable sanitation companies care about including portable sanitation as part of the solution to the global water crisis, succession and continuity planning for your business, and leading companies to the next level. The trade show floor is selling out rapidly too.
• Plans are underway for the second annual World Portable Sanitation Day– PSAI’s initiative to raise global awareness about portable sanitation. More information about this will be forthcoming in the next few months–watch our website

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