Pendleton’s goal: Increase Fort Campbell Chapter membership
Kelli Pendleton, president and CEO of the Christian County Chamber of Commerce, has one goal she intends to accomplish during her tenure as the next president of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Fort Campbell Chapter: Increasing membership.
Pendleton has been involved with AUSA before, during her time as director of military affairs for the chamber, so she knows that membership nationally is much higher than it was a few years ago.
However, with what she calls a strong board for the local chapter and great leadership in Fort Campbell and in Kentucky and Tennessee supporting the mission, Pendleton is confident that with some good ideas, the local chapter can get back on track and increase its membership.
“To do that we have to really educate our military and show them why they want to be a part of it,” she said.
Adding, “We need to look at incentives. We need to look at ‘how do we make it relevant and how do we make it important for your soldiers today.’ We need to look at increased marketing, really getting the word out, increasing memberships and doing what we can to elevate it.”
She was first inspired to get involved with AUSA by longtime Fort Campbell Chapter stalwart and supporter T.C. Freeman.
“My first introduction to AUSA was when I first moved here about 13 years ago. I was in journalism and I did a story at Fort Campbell and interviewed T.C. Freeman. It was my very first introduction to T.C. and she was a huge advocate of AUSA and did so much with the organization,” Pendleton said.
Adding, “That was my first introduction to not only a great organization, but a very charismatic, very passionate lady for the Army. After that, if you aren’t compelled to work with AUSA after meeting her, then you probably never will be.”
Pendleton hopes to make that legacy a proud one. It might not be easy, but she and the board are happy with the direction the chapter is heading.
“It’s huge shoes to fill first of all,” she said on becoming president.
She noted, “I’m very honored and humbled to be chosen to be the president. While AUSA has done some amazing things, it has had some challenges with this chapter. I’m really excited to get back and involved, because there’s such a strong board right now and there are some great people on [it] who really want to do some great things.”
In order to make the chapter “stronger than it’s ever been,” however, soldiers at Fort Campbell need to join. That’s where Pendleton’s experience as president of the chamber will come in handy.
“With the chamber we have our hands on so many different areas in the community. I would love to explore how AUSA can touch other areas of the Army rather than just the membership portion,” she said.
To do that, the AUSA chapter needs to have great relationships with post leadership.
Fortunately, Pendleton says the organization has that. “We just hope that we can work strongly with Fort Campbell. We believe the leadership’s involvement is key to a successful chapter.”
According to AUSA, membership nationally has grown to over 117,000 as of October, which it called the “highest on record.”
With her passion, dedicated board members and a pathway illuminated by other chapters as well as fresh ideas, Pendleton is confident and her team will pull it off.
“I have a strong passion, having worked with soldiers for so long. I want to be able to showcase them and speak for them but we have to show them it’s working and that it pays off and that there is an organization out there that advocates every day on behalf of bettering their families, bettering their lives. We’ve just got to do a better job of getting that word out and getting them involved.”
(Editor’s note: This article was published with permission from The Eagle Post.)