Outgoing AAF Baltimore President Matt McDermott shared the following letter after a busy and highly successful 2020 term for the chapter:

Dear AAF Baltimore Board of Directors, Members, and Friends,

As the year ends, so too will my term as president of the AAFB. I want to thank you for your support of the association and our work over the last two years. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m incredibly grateful I was able to share the ups and downs with you.

We’ve made massive strides towards creating an organization that can serve as a model for other AAF chapters, and other associations in our field. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share some of the things we’ve accomplished together:

  • We expanded our mission: This included an overhaul of our bylaws for the first time in nearly a decade. Our goal was to make our club more inclusive and welcoming to professionals across a wider array of industries, including: advertising, marketing, media, design, law, education, and business communications interests.
  • We rebranded the AAFB: Our rebrand included changes to our visual identity and messaging. This culminated in a complete redesign of our website, introducing a more sophisticated member management system, easier-to-update content management, and improved communications tools.
  • We served as a regional leader: AAFB was selected to host the AAF District 2 Leadership Conference in Baltimore in late 2019, welcoming clubs from all over the East Coast. It provided us a chance to show off the amazing agency and production talent throughout our region as well as explore issues such as diversity, inclusion and equity, cannabis marketing, and new technologies for bringing people together.
  • We hosted two amazing American Advertising Awards ceremonies: In 2019 we turned the B&O Museum into a vintage Sideshow Act. And in 2020, we were fortunate to host the 2020 American Advertising Awards in person, just before COVID-19 hit. The event was an absolute smash with 300 attendees and an extraordinary Wonderland themed gala at Port Discovery.
  • In 2020, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the club. The AAFB began as the Women’s Advertising Club in 1920. The founding members shattered glass ceilings and blazed a path forward for women in advertising — and in society. In the 70s, the women’s club actually absorbed the men’s club, eventually evolving to become today’s AAFB.
  • We created an award to honor the legacy of the club and its founding president: We introduced the Katherine Mahool Iconoclast Award. Each year, this award will recognize a woman in advertising who has truly made an impact on our regional industry.
  • We fought the Maryland Digital Advertising Tax: Representing our agency members and industry community, we testified against the bill multiple times in Annapolis. We also worked alongside AAF National, ANA, AMA, the MDDC Press Association to put pressure on lawmakers and the governor to drop the legislation. It was a win in Maryland, and a win for AAF’s members nationally. While the bill was ultimately passed in a midnight vote, the governor vetoed it. Unfortunately, lawmakers are threatening to override the governor’s veto in 2021. AAF Baltimore has joined the Marylanders For Tax Fairness Coalition along with hundreds of organizations and individuals against the tax. We will continue the fight.
  • We helped steady the community in the face of COVID. When COVID-19 hit, we hosted a series of webinars, bringing people from our industry together to discuss challenges and offer ideas for how to move forward. As part of that, we created a member slack channel, allowing for the easy exchange of ideas. We continue to be a resource for members during this difficult time.
  • We reckoned with advertising’s diversity problem. In the wake of America’s conversation around systemic racism, the club has also been a vocal advocate for change. We have established a thriving and very active Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging committee that has hosted multiple board sessions to discuss ways to diversify the board of directors and create a more inclusive ad community. They are also in talks with consultants to host anti-racism training for agency leaders and their staff in the new year.
  • We will welcome the most diverse board of directors in the club’s 100-year history. On January 1, our new slate of board members will meet for the first time. I’m certain they’ll provide a greater perspective that better represents our membership across the ethnic, gender, age, and professional diaspora. This includes opening two additional seats on the board — with full voting privileges — for student representatives from the AAF Chapters at Morgan State and Towson University.

I’m also excited to introduce Courtney Black, Senior Account Executive at GKV. Our membership and board unanimously voted for her to become the next President of the American Advertising Federation of Baltimore. I’m so excited for her term to begin in the new year. I promise you, we’ll be in very good hands.

It’s been an honor to lead this organization over the last two years. Now, it’s time for the next generation to step up, and carry on the mission of this storied organization. Again, thank you for your support, your friendship, and your passion for this industry.

And it wouldn’t be a proper goodbye if I didn’t leave you with my final pitch:

If you aren’t a member, consider joining. If you are a member, consider getting more involved. Share your talents and thought leadership in programming. Host an event. Sponsor a scholarship. Share your company’s work and wins. Post your jobs to our free member job board. Take part in one of our committees that are working to promote and strengthen our advertising, marketing, design, and business communications community.

And, above all, let us know how we can continue to help you.

I wish you good health and happiness. And may your 2021 be spectacular.

Signing off,

Matt McDermott


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.