In October, our very own Chris Farish from Quaid Farish in Dallas will take the reins as the new President of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). Chris’s term as President will begin immediately after the annual IACP Forum in Philadelphia October 12-15 concludes. Chris recently talked about his upcoming year heading up the IACP.
What does it mean for you to become the new president of IACP?
Honestly, it's a tremendous honor. The IACP means a great deal to me, on a personal level. I think as an organization, the IACP is incredibly important to the work that we do as collaborative practitioners. Though the IACP cannot provide quite the same local support that Collaborative Divorce Texas or your local practice group can in your regional area, IACP fulfills a greater purpose. And that purpose is connecting all of these practice groups, regional organizations, statewide organizations and national organizations and really providing a way for all of these organizations to communicate and exchange ideas because otherwise you are kind of on an island. You may have one or two members communicating, but there is no other forum where the whole group can communicate with others on different topics.
Additionally, IACP is at the forefront of expanding Collaborative Divorce beyond the United States and Canada. It's absolutely essential for collaborative practice to continue to expand into areas where it does not exist up to this point because, in order for Collaborative Divorce to survive and thrive, it cannot be localized. It cannot be the way we do it in Texas, it cannot be the way that we do it in the US, it needs to be something that is internationally recognized and we need to accept and embrace stylistic differences in practice and use those differences to make our own practice better.
IACP as an organization, truly fosters and expands Collaborative Divorce in a way that no other organization can and to me that expansion is the backbone of everything that we are trying to accomplish. Our best marketing of Collaborative Divorce will come through expanding Collaborative Practice around the globe and making a fundamental change in how family disputes are resolved.
How did you get involved with IACP?
In all honesty, I started a practice group of younger practitioners together with several colleagues, friends of mine, here in Dallas. We were kind of starting things from whole cloth and we were using some of the information we were getting from some of the more established practice groups and really trying to understand what we needed to do to have a successful practice group. Part of that was we all needed to be a member of the IACP to support Collaborative Divorce internationally. We were all members and the brochure for the forum came out and I looked at it and I said, "You know, there's a whole day on just practice group development. A full day devoted to what you as a leader of a practice group need to do in order to be able to grow your practice group, build it in a way that's going to be sustainable, and really move it forward.”
The practice group program was free if I could make it to Minneapolis in October and register for the rest of the Forum. When I got there I was absolutely taken aback with the passion and the fire and the commitment to collaborative practice that I felt all around me. From the full day that I sat in the meeting for practice group leaders on through all of my workshops, all of the receptions, all of the dinners, and the Saturday night event. I just really fell in love with the organization. I really fell in love with the fact that an organization can bring people together from all over the world for a single purpose and really ignite so much fire in them. It was something that I'd never experienced.
Even though we had the spring conference in Texas, it was just a different level of enthusiasm and fire. I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be a part of helping to maintain, sustain, and grow that fire because it's essential to what we do. I came back energized, not only in my practice group, but also energized in my practice. I was also energized to begin contributing to IACP and forwarding the mission of the organization. From that point, I began volunteering for committees and serving on committees, and stepped up to the board about three years later.
What are your expectations for this year as president of IACP?
The IACP is in a very unique position at the moment. We are in a difficult position because, ultimately, there's been a lot of transition. There's been a lot of change and that makes things difficult. My expectation for the coming year is to helm a Board of Directors that is prepared to transition organizationally. We've heard the questions from our membership. "What does the IACP do for me? Why is it important?" Things of that nature. And a lot of the things I've talked about, the fact that we are a connector. The fact that we are helping to forward the expansion Collaborative Practice, providing guidance as to standards and ethics in practice, and really helping families to resolve their disputes in a dignified, respectful manner are the answers to those questions. The IACP is a cause organization. We aren’t trying to save the whales; we are trying to save families from the trauma that divorce can wreak on the family unit, and if we succeed in our goals of changing how family disputes are resolved on a global scale, the ultimate benefit is that every regional group that is clamoring for more cases will have all the cases they can handle.
We're going to refocus and come up with a new strategic plan that really answers the call of our members and forwards our cause. We are going to position the IACP very well into the future. We hope to have a new executive director in the coming months and with a new executive director will come change, and we look forward to it. We look forward to really having a transformative leader in place who can see a vision for the future of the IACP that will help us to move forward and continue to have the success that we've had in the past, and to help us continue to grow as an organization.
This year's conference is in Philadelphia. What should someone expect from this year's conference?
Anyone coming to Philadelphia should expect to be reenergized with the fire for Collaborative Practice that they felt in their first training. They should expect to meet practitioners from all over the globe and to learn and exchange ideas. The forum is a singular event that is unlike anything else. The European Network for Collaborative Practice (“ENCP”) a great job of gathering Europeans together when they hold their conferences. There are several people from the US and Canada who go over and train at the ENCP conference, as well. The IACP forum is truly singular because we have a lot of Europeans who come over, but we'll also have a contingent from Brazil that will come up to Philadelphia. We will have members from Australia, and Singapore, and Hong Kong. It is a global event. Of course, the vast majority of our membership is in the United States and Canada, and we hope that our US members as well as our Canadian members will come to Philadelphia as well.
We have the pre-forum institutes which provide learning in a manner that you really don't get at a conference very often. The type of learning is usually restricted to advanced trainings that have to be carefully cultivated and planned. Whereas, with the forum, you go up, you attend two pre-forum institutes on Thursday and Friday. You basically get two separate advanced trainings, and then you stay for the forum and you have basic and advanced workshops, and even workshops just to expand on your thinking and open your mind to new possibilities.
There will be a tremendous number of learning opportunities, but I really can’t emphasize enough how much learning takes place just in the networking. Getting to know practitioners, from not only all over the United States and Canada, but from all over the world. A tremendous amount of the learning that takes place at the forum, takes place in small group discussions. Even outside of the workshops, where the workshops have maybe ignited a spark, and a conversation then continues over coffee the next morning. Members are able to exchange ideas, exchange different ways that they are engaging in their Collaborative Divorce practice. It's those ideas that feed changes and that feed transitions in the collaborative process itself, which are ultimately needed in order to make this process better, stronger, and more available to more people.
For more information and to register for this year’s IACP forum in Philadelphia, go to https://www.collaborativepractice.com/professional/trainings-events/networking-and-educational-forum.aspx