At our annual conference and health care marketplace last month we launched the environmental services professional organization of the future with an amazing new name and corporate identity. ASHES is now the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE), with the tagline "Prevention. Education. Standards. Management."

The response to the change has been amazing and we are so excited to take this historic step into our next 25 years. Altering a brand can be risky business, but the board of directors and the branding and public relations firm did an amazing job framing the issues and reaching consensus.

While the end result was successful, the journey for the board was a difficult one and the decisions were not taken lightly.

At the 2009 annual conference, 10 focus groups were professionally facil­itated by a research firm to gather information regarding our brand value. Participants were new and long-term members, past board members, committee members and presidents. A detailed report was presented to the board in October 2009 and the same firm was then contracted to conduct a detailed member opinion survey distributed in December 2009.

The data from the survey generated long hours of board discussion, phone calls to stakeholders and conference calls with larger groups. The stakeholder calls were validating, insightful and, most importantly, supportive. Even the charter members of the organization were supportive of the changes and the direction the board believed we needed to go.

We have received overwhelming support and praise for making the tough decisions necessary to keep our members' profession on the cutting edge. I can't begin to express my pride and thanks to the 2009 and 2010 boards of directors for never losing sight of the members and for making selfless decisions in the best interests of those we serve.

We are also very proud to report that BROOKSLACAYO, the Jacksonville, Fla., firm that developed the design and brand directives, has won a 2010 American Graphic Design Award for the design of the AHE logo.

Visit the AHE website at to view the 2011-2013 Strategy Map and stay tuned for ongoing developments and announcements. We have much in store for the remaining months of this year and 2011.

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement!

Fiona Nemetz, CHESP
Director of Environmental Services, Transport, Safety and Parking
Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta

Sidebar - ASHES insight

Why the change?

Through focus groups and surveys, the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE), formerly known as the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services (ASHES), learned several things about its members and their perception of ASHES, including the following:

• The duties of environmental services (ES) professionals have expanded well beyond ES;
• The name no longer represented all of what members are responsible for;
• Respondents couldn't articulate the significance of the logo as it related to the organization's mission, vision and values;
• The logo was no longer relevant or representative of the organization;
• There was significant brand confusion with internal American Hospital Association organizations;
• The brand did not specifically define who or what the organization was; and
• Green and blue were preferred colors, over the orange in ASHES' logo.

Recognizing the enormous obligation of meeting the changing needs and responsibilities of members and a rapidly changing demographic, the organization's board and staff worked with a nationally recognized branding and
public relations firm to achieve the transformation that was unveiled at last month's conference.