By Kristy Kuna, OAC VP of Programs and Operations

Our Members remain at the heart of why the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) exists. In our initial creation, building a membership was the foundation of our existence, as we recognized that we could not make any impact in obesity without the voices of those affected. Our membership has been the vehicle for how we organize our voices.

Fast forwarding to 2018, our commitment to building and sustaining our membership has not changed, but we recognize that the rising issues which impact the lives of our members command us to rethink our approach. This also prompted us to take a few steps back to look at the OAC as an organization and what it is that we are here to do.

What we uncovered was no different than we thought – that we have an unwavering commitment to making an impact in providing the best and most credible education out there, spreading awareness about obesity and its complexity, conducting and encouraging advocacy to make a difference in improving access to care and eradicating weight bias, and providing support to those who struggle each and every day with their weight and health.

We’ve taken a lot of cues from our members throughout the past 14 years. We’ve had the privilege of getting to know our growing membership while listening to their needs and concerns. We’ve grown to understand what motivates them to be part of our organization and what fires are ignited within them to do more. We’ve also learned more about what they need in their journey and how the OAC can be a part of it. What we’ve figured out along the way is that our membership is more than being part of our voice. It’s about being a part of a supportive COMMUNITY of like-minded people who share differences and commonalities, all united to see a better world for people living with obesity.

With the reinforcement of this obvious but powerful message, it guided us to ask ourselves:

“Does our current membership structure foster the Community-building that we need to better connect our members to issues relating to their health while also getting more involved in the greater issues at hand?”

The short and abrupt answer is, “no.”

Our current membership structure has been wildly successful at building our voice from zero to 59,000, but lacks the ability to provide a rich and connected experience to meet the needs of our diverse membership. We know our members have unique interests, passions, motivations and backgrounds, which is what makes-up a vibrant and necessary Community that can eventually be a force to be reckoned with. But, we recognize that we need to do more to engage our members and provide them the essentials while also fostering and teaching the importance of getting more involved.

Here’s Our Exciting News: OAC’s Membership Community – COMING SOON!

I am excited to share with you that that OAC is in the final stages of development of its NEW Membership Community! You may have heard some buzz on this whether in passing or maybe at our Convention last year, or you also may have seen our Community logo floating around, but I can’t tell you how excited we are to see this come to life soon!

So, what is the OAC’s Membership Community?

The OAC’s Community is intended to provide individuals the opportunity to join together to GET EDUCATED on the latest evidence-based information about obesity, FIND SUPPORT through ongoing education about weight and health, CONNECT with others who share similar concerns and journeys, and TAKE ACTION to help the OAC change the world for individuals living with obesity. While the OAC has offered a platform for our members to do all of the above, the new OAC Community will make this a more connected and personal experience, while making it easier to get access to education and opportunities for involvement.

The tough part is that I can’t share with you ALL the details just yet, but what I can give you is a sneak peek at what changes and new items are in store with the launch of OAC’s Community:

  • A new membership structure that offers the opportunity for ANY individual to join-in our efforts, while also providing an option for members to receive premium benefits like our print subscription to OAC’s Your Weight Matters Magazine
  • A brand new and more impactful OAC Web site
  • An OAC Membership Community hub for all Community and organizational communication, complete with a member log-in feature
  • A new platform to submit your personal video story and have an archive of video stories to provide support to others
  • Obesity Care Provider Locator database to search for a qualified provide that deals specifically with weight management
  • Expanded resources for healthcare providers
  • And much more!

We are in the final stages of development on all of the above items, which means you will start to hear more about OAC’s Community and the official launch very soon! I know many of you may have a list of immediate questions about the changes in store, so I will do my best to answer the ones that I think are on your mind:

  1. Wait, so is OAC’s Membership going away? Not at all. It’s only getting stronger! The OAC is basically rebranding its membership to make it more impactful and inclusive of all individuals who want to be a part of our education and advocacy efforts. Our Membership is Our Community and our Community is Our Membership!
  2. So will I continue being a Member of the OAC, or will I be a Member of the OAC Community? Great question! Because we are essentially rebranding our membership, you will be a Member of the OAC Community. But, it’s not incorrect for you to refer to yourself as “An OAC Member.” Our Membership is Our Community and our Community is Our Membership!
  3. When is the OAC Community going to launch? We aren’t ready to announce our official launch date, but we can tell you that you will start to see subtle changes and communication from us throughout the next several weeks. We will notify all our members of our official Community launch week as we get closer, but in the meantime, you can look forward to hearing more and ramping up for these exciting changes to take life! We think our launch will take place just as we get rolling into the official start of summer!
  4. How will this change my existing membership? You won’t see a change to your current membership and offerings, but you will see added value to your membership with these new components we are offering.
  5. Will Membership still be on an annual basis and have a fee? While membership in the OAC Community will not come with any financial commitment, we are keeping part of our current structure in tact by offering more value and benefits to those that want a little more out of their membership experience.
  6. What else can you tell me? I wish I could give you all the details now, but they are still coming together. Rest assured, you will soon start to hear more about all these exciting changes coming and how OAC’s Membership Community will provide an unprecedented way for individuals to engage with us!

Our Membership is Our Community and Our Community is Our Membership! You’ve heard this now a couple times, but we hope this will start to resonate with you. This whole process of re-defining and rebranding our membership was a many year-long intensive process led by OAC’s Membership Committee, under the leadership of long-time members Tammy Beaumont, BSN, RN, CBN, and Nikki Massie, MA. This committee also invested a lot of time and energy in surveying and conducting focus groups to understand the needs of our membership. And, we think we are there! We are excited about what’s in store, and what this is all about:

  • Building a strong and vibrant Community, comprised of people from all backgrounds, circumstances, experiences and motivations
  • Getting people armed with more knowledge than ever to remain connected in their care, along with the broader issues we face
  • Building our armies to become louder and stronger together

It’s about being part of OUR COMMUNITY! We hope you share in our excitement with all that’s in store. STAY TUNED!