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ATA Looks to Continue Organizing Local Chapters

Members of the American Teleservices Association are putting together a year-end drive to form new local chapters in four U.S. regions.

Organizers in northern California, southern California, Colorado and the Kansas-Missouri region have planted the seeds of new local chapters. By Jan. 1, the ATA expects to have seven regional chapters well into the early stages of development. There are three established chapters, which include Ohio, the New York metropolitan area and the southeastern region of the United States that includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

In June the ATA revived the practice of organizing local chapters, which were abolished in 1997 under the association's previous management. The return of local chapters was part of the effort to reorganize the ATA after financial problems surfaced last year.

Part of the challenge in restarting chapters will be to convince former members that coming back to the organization is worthwhile, said Karen Crawford, president of teleservices consulting firm Crawford & Associates, Lafayette, CA. She served as president of the original northern California chapter before it was dismantled. Crawford is now leading efforts to re-establish the chapter, which once had approximately 100 members.

While many have expressed interest in joining the new Colorado chapter, convincing people to take leadership roles has been difficult, said Stephanie Spade, who is organizing the chapter that will be based in Denver.

In Colorado, Southwestern Bell will sponsor the chapter's first meeting, which is expected to be held before the end of February.

Spade, president of call center consulting firm SHS Marketing Group, Langhorne, PA, is in Denver for the next six months on a project and will return to Pennsylvania when her duties in Colorado are completed. The 11-year ATA member, who served on the organization's board of directors from 1994-97, said she will help establish the chapter's leadership structure before she leaves.

A group of eight people helping to organize the southern California chapter met for the first time this month. The chapter plans to have its first open meeting with an educational session and a call center tour on Jan. 17.

The Kansas-Missouri chapter scheduled its first meeting this month in order to establish its board of directors. It has 13 firms committed to chapter membership.

A Las Vegas chapter is scheduled to begin organizing next year. The ATA reported that there are discussions regarding the possibility of a chapter forming in Nebraska, which is a teleservices stronghold and the home of several members of the ATA's national board of directors.

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