Spending three days at the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) Conference this past week had me thinking about the importance of alliances or partnerships. I have always held to a personal philosophy that we are stronger together than separate. For me, this translates into finding people and organizations that share the vision or have complimentary goals and activities that, when taken together, create a stronger framework for the work you do. It also means acknowledging and respecting differences and finding a way to work together for the greater good.
PATH Intl. is approached on a fairly regular basis by people and organizations wanting to partner with the association. Although many of these are actually people or organizations wanting to market their product to the PATH Intl. membership, more and more the association is being approached by groups who want to align as partners for the betterment of the field. That does not include the partners we already have nor alliances we have proactively sought because we see the value for the membership and the field-partners such as the American Hippotherapy Association, the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations, Certified Horsemanship Association, Horses and Humans Research Foundation, Colorado State University, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Quarter Horse Association to name a few.
We invest time on these alliances on behalf of you, a PATH Intl. member, in order to strengthen the equine-assisted activities field as a whole. And we don't come to a partnership decision lightly. Because we have only a certain amount of resources, we carefully choose with whom to align. This is done through an analysis that rates the partnership's value in three areas: Value to PATH Intl. members, value to the field, and an assumed value to the partner. In addition, we look at the current strategic plan and assess how many of the objectives the potential partner aligns with. For example, the American Hippotherapy Association ranks in the top five because the value for members is high (think of how many PATH Intl. Member Centers have a therapy department), the value to the field is high (they are doing great work, particularly with education and insurance reimbursement), and the value to AHA is high (AHA therapists working at a PATH Intl. center, crossover of best practices) and they align with seven of the PATH Intl. objectives in our strategic plan. This analysis allows us to thoughtfully use our resources in order to have the greatest impact for our membership and the field.
I am writing about this for two reasons. One, I want members to know that we are working to strengthen the field through thoughtful partnerships, and two, I want to encourage everyone reading this to think about the types of partnerships or alliances you could build that not only strengthen you or your center but also have the ripple effect of making us all stronger.
We are all stronger together than separate.