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Navigating change and promoting innovation: an interview with EASPD Vice-President Karin Astegger

As part of our EASPD Elections series, we are interviewing EASPD Vice-President, Karin Astegger.

As part of our EASPD Elections series, we are interviewing EASPD Vice-President, Karin Astegger. Initially trained as a psychologist and psychotherapist, Karin entered the social services sector over 26 years ago. Having seen the early potential of EASPD to drive innovation and change in the delivery of human-rights-based disability services, Karin has long been an active member of EASPD. We spoke to Karin about the development of EASPD; the contributions that she has made as an Executive Committee member that she is most proud of and her recommendations for potential Board candidates.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and insights with us today. I’d like to start by asking what motivated you to pursue the specific position of Vice-President in EASPD’s Executive Committee?

Karin: My journey with EASPD began about 20 years ago when I participated in a training program they offered. This experience opened my eyes to the potential of the organisation and its mission. At that time, EASPD was quite different, with less capacity in its secretariat. Seeing this, I felt a strong urge to contribute and be more actively involved.

Over the years, I have witnessed EASPD’s evolution, and it felt like a logical step to run for the Executive Committee, especially with the impending changes due to Luk’s (EASPD’s former Secretary General) retirement. I had previously served two terms on the Board and I felt that I could bring some ‘organisational memory’ during this transition phase. I was also at a moment when I had more capacity to contribute to the organisation.

Reflecting on your tenure, can you share a specific accomplishment or initiative that you're particularly proud of and that you believe has made a positive impact on EASPD and its mission?

Karin: This term has been particularly challenging due to unforeseen circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic, the search for a new Secretary-General, and the geopolitical conflicts in Europe. Despite these challenges, I'm proud of how we, as a Board, navigated through them and made significant contributions. Personally, I devoted a lot of time and effort to tasks like the Framework of Social Services of Excellence, where I represented the Executive Committee. It wasn't an easy task, given the diverse perspectives involved, but it was crucial work that I believe has positively impacted EASPD's mission.

Given your experiences, are there any lessons or insights you've gained that you'd like to share with potential candidates to better prepare them for the responsibilities of being an EASPD Board member?

Karin: Absolutely. Serving on the Board comes with a set of responsibilities that can sometimes be unpredictable. One lesson I've learned is that you can't always anticipate every task or challenge that may arise. It's essential to be prepared for the unexpected and to understand that you don't have to tackle everything alone. Collaboration and teamwork within the Board, the Executive Committee, and the Secretariat are vital. While it's crucial to be knowledgeable about EASPD's structure and initiatives, it's equally important to be open to learning and adapting. Above all, maintain enthusiasm for EASPD's values and mission, and remember that you represent the organisation, not just your own interests.

Three Vice-President positions, alongside 15 other governance roles, will be open for election on 19 October 2024. Eligible candidates have until August 31 to submit their applications for a Board position. For more information about the application process, please visit the EASPD website here.