Successful chapter meetings are:
- Held at easily-accessible, affordable, and comfortable meeting sites
- Regularly scheduled, as interest tends to lag if meetings are held too far apart.
- Convenient for the working needs of its members: dinner meetings provide a relaxing evening if they don't start too early or too late. Full-day seminars with many speakers or panel discussions also work well.
- Relevant, with speakers and panels on "hot" IT topics. The best way to determine this is to discuss with chapter members directly.
- Adequately publicized: post notices by website, mail schedules to members, and advertise in newspapers. Contact headquarters to send to ACM members an announcement via the "Chapters-announcement" listserv.
The size and scope of chapter meetings will vary. Chapters should have regular business, election, program, and community-service meetings throughout the year.
With the exception of election meetings, many chapters conduct most business in executive council meetings and devote general meetings to professional programs. Summaries of business conducted in council meetings should be available to chapter membership through the newsletter or brief reports at general meetings.
Executive council meetings should be announced in advance to the chapter membership to encourage them to attend. An "open door" policy for executive council encourages participation in chapter management, thus providing a pool of potential chapter leaders.
Chapter members meet once a year to elect chapter officers for the next year. This often takes place in the spring.
Program meetings can either be dinner or non-dinner meetings. They should follow the same general format:
- A welcoming statement, usually by the chapter chair, to welcome attendees and to talk briefly about the chapter
- introduction of the speaker
- the talk
- a question and answer period
- a closing statement to thank the speaker for the program and announce the next meeting
A program meeting can be speakers from local organizations, corporations, or universities; round table discussions or specialized panel discussions; hardware demonstrations; joint meetings with other societies that focus on computer applications; site tours; and social events. Sources for speakers and discussions include local organizations, corporations, and scholars. It is a good idea to get speakers from other parts of the country. Many companies are often willing to pay all expenses connected with sending an individual to speak to an ACM Chapter.
Many chapters organize regional symposia and conferences. These conferences are often held in cooperation with other chapters or organizations. It is important to note that any affiliation with an ACM chapter requires advance approval from either the Local Activities Coordinator or the Director of SIG Services. The proceedings from ACM-approved conferences are eligible to appear in the ACM Digital Library.
Community Service Meetings
ACM chapters usually have a community service component to their programs. Chapters often serve as the outreach arm of the Association; promoting information technology and computing at the grassroots level is a critical part of ACM's mission. Here are a few suggestions for community projects:
- Speakers bureau: An organized pool of computing professionals offer to lecture and lead discussions on IT topics and careers for schools and other civic groups.
- Television and film production: Closed circuit presentation of chapter speakers has been arranged through education networks; special programs have been developed for education television and for local stations that carry public interest programs.
- Donations of ACM publications to Local Institutions: Copies of back issues of ACM publications can be solicited from members. Complete sets are welcomed by libraries in educational institutions.
- Programming courses: This is perhaps the most common chapter activity in the education field. Classes have been organized for audiences ranging from elementary school students to classroom teachers, as well as the disadvantaged in the local area.
- Career guidance in computing: chapters can cooperate with the local school system in career guidance days.
- Sponsorship of student chapters [directory of ACM student chapters]
ACM Student Chapters require a professional ACM member to serve as sponsor. Student Chapters look to Professional Chapters for advice and assistance. Professional Chapters may offer themselves as a source of speakers for student meetings, and as an introduction to Professional Chapters as the students prepare to graduate. Student Chapter members can assist Professional Chapters at professional development seminars and other large events; students are usually willing to trade a half-day's work for free registration.
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Why I Belong to ACM
Hear from Bryan Cantrill, vice president of engineering at Joyent, Ben Fried chief information officer at Google, and Theo Schlossnagle, OmniTI founder on why they are members of ACM.