The strength behind any successful venture is a good leader. For the Florida Chiropractic Association (FCA), this old adage holds true. Dr. Edward C. Williams, a 1959 graduate of Lincoln Chiropractic College in Indiana, has been an influential leader and an intrinsic part of the enormous success that the chiropractic profession has witnessed in the state of Florida.
After 16 years in private practice and 6 years as a lobbyist for the FCA, Dr. Williams accepted an appointment as the executive vice president for the Florida Chiropractic Association in 1975. At that time, the FCA had approximately 500 members, 2 full time staff, a budget of $185,000, little or no assets, and was approximately $30,000 in debt. Since that time, the association has grown to a membership of approximately 3,600 with a staff of 13, an annual budget of about $1.5 million, over $3 million in assets, and no debts.
The presidential term for the FCA is only 1 year, so as presidents came and went, it has been Dr. Williams' 15 years as executive vice president that has been so instrumental for the growth of the association.
When asked why he thought that the association has been so successful, Dr. Williams replied: "It has been a lot of luck and a great deal of hard work. I think of myself as the quarterback. I couldn't have done anything if it hadn't been for the great administration, staff, financial planning, and membership support that has been behind me this whole time. But more than anything else, most of our success has been due to the fact that we view the association and our roles within it as a business venture, rather than a social club."
Dr. Williams says that he is most proud of the legislative accomplishments of the FCA. The FCA has been responsible for the passage of more than 70 pieces of pro-chiropractic legislation in the last 10 years. Among these was the passage of legislation which mandated chiropractic coverage by HMOs in Florida. This legislation is due to come up for its "sunset" review soon and the FCA plans to ensure that the review is favorable to chiropractic.
Making the public aware of the importance and validity of chiropractic care through governmental recognition is one of the FCA's biggest goals. Under Dr. Williams' leadership, they have routinely been able to have the state governor sign three proclamations a year for chiropractic. This has resulted in proclamations such as Chiropractic Week (November 6-12, 1989), Correct Posture Month (March 1990), and Spinal Health Month (October 1990).
Chiropractic unity and education has been furthered in Florida through the Florida Chiropractic Association JOURNAL. As executive editor of the FCA Journal, Dr. Williams has witnessed its growth from a four-page quarterly newsletter, to a bi-monthly, high quality magazine of 64-88 pages. The JOURNAL has been named five times by the ACA as the top state journal!
Perhaps the FCA is best known for its spectacular annual conventions. The man responsible for the planning of these conventions is (if you hadn't already guessed) Dr. Ed Williams. Each year, three conventions are held in Florida: one in December in Fort Lauderdale with 155 exhibits and approximately 1,000 people in attendance, one in May in Northern Florida with 120 exhibits and approximately 700 people in attendance, and the big granddaddy of them all, the August convention in Orlando with 315 exhibits and 1,900 people in attendance. This last convention is the largest in the nation. The great exhibits (which allow the profession to peruse the latest in equipment), inspirational speakers, and continuing education hours are what draw people from all over the country to the Florida Chiropractic Association's conventions.
After 20 years as a FCA lobbyist, 1 year as president, 15 years as executive vice president, 6 years as executive editor for the FCA JOURNAL, and having won just about every award a state has to give, one might think that Dr. Williams would be tired. But not so. "I really enjoy getting things done," said Dr. Williams. "I've devoted most of my professional life to this association; I wouldn't be happy doing anything else. So I guess I'm going to keep at it as long I still can."