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Building Coalitions of Support
The ROCKS, RBA, AFCOMA focus on strength in diversity

In the intense environment of the Fort Leavenworth Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in the 1960s, a group of eight African American officers—out of a cohort of 750—held study sessions and group meetings to ensure that they all succeeded in the 10-month officer training program.

“If they failed a test, they would be sent home,” said Sharene Alexis Cook, the President of WSC Associates, a management company located in Maryland. Sharene provides association management services for the group that would become known as The ROCKS, Inc. “They wanted to make sure they thrived together.”

They built camaraderie, and after completing the program, many of them were assigned to posts in the Washington, D.C. region and continued to meet to support their colleagues in new work assignments. In 1974, the informal group became The ROCKS, Inc. in tribute to the leadership of Gen. Roscoe Cartwright, a member of the group who died with his wife in a plane crash the day the group decided to formally organize and rename. Now, The ROCKS comprises 16 chapters worldwide with a focus on mentoring and fundraising for scholarships for ROTC members.

“We’re strong because of the focus on diversifying the Army,” Sharene said. “Our 1,000-plus volunteers provide professional development and scholarships to military officers and ROTC cadets.”

As the organization grew, managing membership, fundraising, and events through spreadsheets and Microsoft Access became more and more frustrating, Sharene said.
“I thought we could grow together, and I was right,” Sharene said. “With ClubExpress it’s easier to track members, to pay online, and help us run our systems.”
“My husband and I thought there had to be a better way to manage online,” she said. They looked at several popular software programs in 2007, and ultimately chose ClubExpress for The ROCKS and then several other organizations.

“I thought we could grow together, and I was right,” Sharene said. “With ClubExpress it’s easier to track members, to pay online, and help us run our systems. Over the years the process has gotten smoother.”

After the national organization of The ROCKS saw success with ClubExpress, she said the 160-member Washington, DC ROCKS chapter launched with the software in 2009. Then, a third organization Sharene works with, the RMOA Business Association (RBA), began using ClubExpress.

“That was a little trickier because it was smaller and they were using Access and didn’t want to pay at first,” Sharene said. RBA, an organization of about 80 veteran entrepreneurs designed to network and strengthen their businesses. Among other benefits of ClubExpress RBA found was not having to pay to print out and mail its membership directories—an important feature for networking.

In addition, the Air Force Cadet Officer Mentor Association (AFCOMA) began using ClubExpress in 2014. The organization of about 25 members provides mentor programs, scholarships and fellowship to ROTC and Military Cadets.

Sharene, who is involved with all the groups, said she recommends ClubExpress to most of the groups she works with because of continual improvements to the software and custom solutions like the newly designed ROCKS home page.

“I love that they let us know what’s changing and improving,” she said.

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