May 2013
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ASTD Celebrates 70 Years

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Editor’s Note: ASTD Celebrates 70 Years

The American Society for Training & Development is 70 years old!

As you can see by the cover, this issue celebrates the 70th anniversary of ASTD. Along with an article that examines the evolution of ASTD to what it is today, I had the pleasure of asking some of the biggest names in this profession about the first 70 years and the next 10 for an article that praises the history of this field and this not-for-profit association.

ASTD started in 1943, when 15 men—all associated with the petroleum industry—gathered for the first meeting of the American Society of Training Directors. Three years later, in 1946, a constitution was adopted at ASTD's conference in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

"The stated goals were to raise the standards and prestige of the industrial training profession, and to further the training professional's education and development," writes Kristen Fyfe-Mills in the cover story. Today, ASTD's mission statement mirrors those goals: "Empower professionals to develop knowledge and skills successfully."

One milestone in ASTD's history that has had a major impact on the field is ASTD's move to become an international association. In 2013, with a membership of about 39,000, ASTD has 120 chapters and 15 international partners, and members come from six continents.

This international reach is an asset to this growing profession, according to Jack Zenger, who says in the article on page 36, "Besides propelling [ASTD] to grow much larger, [going international] enabled its members to be better prepared to serve multinational clients, and the diversity has made it a stronger organization."


The past five to 10 years have changed this profession at lightning speed, but the next 10 will have a profound effect on the role of the training and development professional. As Elaine Biech says in the article, "Training and development professionals will orchestrate the opportunities for many self-directed learners who are searching for the fastest way to 'download learning.'"

Over the years, the value of employee development has evolved into a major business objective in many of the most successful organizations around the globe. What will the next 70 years bring to this field? Will you be ready, willing, and able to change with it?

Paula Ketter
Editor, T+D
[email protected]

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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