Over the decades, there have been Posts that have come and gone, impacted by economic, demographic, and strategic changes in communities. A few years ago, the Fort Detrick Post faced such a scenario, with a narrow geographic reach forcing its Board to make a difficult decision as to what the future would be. In 2015, with support of SAME National, the Post elected to expand its regional coverage and its areas of impact, reinventing as the Mid-Maryland Post. The years following have seen a resurgence of membership, engagement, and interest.
Bricks & Clicks recently chatted with leaders of the Post to learn about the challenges it faced in making the transition and the keys to success that could be adopted by other Posts looking to increase engagement and provide value.
Bricks & Clicks: How would you describe your Post, its demographics, and the value it provides?
MID-MARYLAND: The Mid-Maryland Post, formerly the Fort Detrick Post, spans from Fort Meade to Fort Detrick between the metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Over the past three years, our Post has grown rapidly in membership and influence. Once at just 50 members, we now boast over 240 members and 23 Sustaining Member firms as well as a recently founded Student Chapter at the University of Maryland with over 30 Student Members. The Post is known for providing value through its highly relevant programming, professional development offerings, and philanthropic opportunities.
Bricks & Clicks: What are some challenges your Post has dealt with, and how did you address them?
MID-MARYLAND: Established first as a Field Chapter and associated with the Baltimore Post, the Fort Detrick Post had been experiencing a steady decline in event attendance and membership due to a slowdown in work at the installation. Reaching its breaking point, the Post’s Board had to make a decision—close the Post, or double down and reinvent itself. Choosing the harder of the two, then-Post President, Donald Hall, Ph.D., P.E., F.SAME, worked with SAME National to pave the way for a rebrand that would not only make it a standalone Post but vastly expand its geographic territory.
In 2015, the newly minted Mid-Maryland Post was stood up. Carlos Sanchez, LEED AP, was elected Post President, and several passionate new Board Members, including his successor, Sally Clark, CPSM, were recruited to help with its revitalization. The Post focused on establishing itself as the go-to for Fort Meade, Fort Detrick, and the substantial number of federal agencies in the surrounding counties. This approach allowed it to rapidly grow and service an area that had not been focused on by either the Baltimore or Washington DC Posts.
Bricks & Clicks: How has the Post evolved over the last few years?
MID-MARYLAND: In order to grow the Post’s presence, the first few years of programming were heavily weighted toward networking and STEM/scholarship-related activities. The benefit was a new reputation as the “Post with Personality.”
As membership numbers have risen, our focus has pivoted to include more professional development opportunities and partnerships with associations and neighboring local Posts on relevant activities that have provided increased exposure. This includes the annual Mega Maryland Small Business Conference, an event with six other partner organizations and 500-plus attendees.
The Post is known for providing value through its highly relevant programming, professional development oﬀerings, and philanthropic opportunities.
Bricks & Clicks: What would you say are the keys that helped your Post reinvent itself?
MID-MARYLAND: Our Board of Directors has continued to be incredibly successful in recruiting new members and young professionals to serve and reinvigorate the programming.
The Board focuses strategically on in-depth annual programming for which each leader champions a monthly event they are passionate about. By spreading the event planning load, the Post better aligns events with membership interests, and does a better job of scheduling events early and executing well.
Bricks & Clicks: Are there specific areas of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan your Post and its members are excited to contribute to?
MID-MARYLAND: The current strategic plan regarding industry-government engagement entails reaching out to government partners at Fort Meade and the National Security Agency to increase their involvement and establish a recurring event cycle on base. While this has not been without its challenges, the Post has been successful in holding two events to date at Fort Meade that have averaged 90 attendees and included significantly more government attendees than ever before.
A key to this early success has been the efforts of Raymond “Raymo” Rehrer, AIA, who has exhaustively worked with base leadership to ensure event logistics are executed flawlessly.
Bricks & Clicks: What advice would you give other Posts facing their own demographic, economic, or geographical challenges?
MID-MARYLAND: Recruit the right team and allow each leader to champion initiatives that align with the Society’s strategic plan, align with their own personal interests, and align with the interests of the local membership.
Focus on up-front planning each year and publish your calendar of events as soon as possible to keep your leaders motivated and members informed. Take small bites of the apple initially to ensure you can execute your annual program and then start to grow your efforts as you grow the Post. And lastly, make it a priority to recruit public sector employees and do the best you can to hold events on government facilities to get the most engagement possible.