Detroit Michigan was a hotbed of training during World War II. Beginning in December 1941, men were quitting their employment and joining the military in a steady stream, leaving huge job vacancies in most organizations. To replace those enlisting, thousands of new workers, primarily women, were hired into factories and other Detroit area workplaces. An alarming educational and training vacuum appeared because Detroit was a hub for the United States military readiness. Automobile factories were converted to produce tanks, airplanes, and military motor vehicles and “Rosie the Riveter” (the patriotic symbol of women entering the workplace to help out with the war effort) needed to learn how to produce the military equipment. Much of the rest of Detroit’s business, industry, financial, and other organizations geared up to support this war effort. There was an urgency to prepare those not leaving for war to serve their county making military equipment.
In this hectic and demanding environment, the forerunner of ATD’s Detroit chapter was established to meet the needs of the military and U.S. citizenry. In June 1942, a group of industrial trainers in the metro Detroit area invited leaders, primarily in vocational education, to join them in forming an organization for the purpose of exchanging ideas among those responsible for training programs.
As a result, the Michigan Industrial Training Council, a non-incorporated association of directors of industrial training and others interested in the field of business and vocational education, was formed. Patriotism, mutual problem solving, and helpfulness pervaded this fledgling ATD chapter. Later, as the emphasis of the council broadened, it became the Michigan Training Council and incorporated in 1950.
The Council cooperated in the development of the American Society of Training Directors. It was an affiliate until 1958 when the Council membership, recognizing the advantages of a closer relationship with the national organization, became the Greater Detroit Chapter of the American Society of Training Directors (later, the American Society for Training and Development) The local chapter was known as GDASTD. Due to the changes and dramatic growth of the training and development field, National ASTD announced in 2014 that they were changing the name of the association to the Association for Talent Development (ATD). The new name reflects the global nature, tremendous diversity, influence and impact of this profession. With this change, our local chapter became Detroit ATD on January 1, 2015.
In the 1950s and 60s, the Greater Detroit Chapter hosted a yearly regional conference for the Detroit area, out-state Michigan, neighboring states, and Canada. Generally, each conference had a theme and a program covering a wide-range of organizational and management development and staff training issues. George Romney was a keynote speaker when George Romney was chairman and president of American Motors. (George served American Motors as chairman and president between 1954 until 1962 and later Michigan’s governor from 1962 to 1966). Usually, these daylong programs produced revenue to help the chapter’s budget needs. Important conference committee leadership positions provided personal growth opportunities for members not yet in supervisory roles. These gatherings evolved into ASTD mid-west regional conferences sponsored by various chapters.
In the later 1950s, Greater Detroit Chapter was invited to host the annual ASTD National Conference. At that time, local chapters vied for this opportunity. Many local corporate training directors were active and eager to meet the challenge. Months of planning and execution were required of these Detroit leaders and committees. The successful conference was convened at the Book Cadillac Hotel with several hundred in attendance.
Undoubtedly, the great achievement of this national event, along with superior programs and services during the next year, led to the Greater Detroit Chapter earning this award. The trophy was a rotating award from the National ASTD Board. Carl Stewart explained that the trophy resembled the Stanley Cup in size and general appearance.
In 1989, Detroit hosted and provided volunteers for ASTD’s third ASTD National Technical and Skills Training Conference. Cobo Hall, along the Detroit River overlooking the freighters and pleasure boats, was the venue so Greater Detroit volunteers wore sailor caps symbolizing the Great Lakes freighters and boating.
Through the years, this dynamic chapter (700+ members in the 1980’s) provided professional development and leadership to Southeast Michigan. In 1983, 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1991, the Chapter earned an Outstanding Chapter Award and in the early 1990's, the Chapter Communications award.
ATD Detroit provides resources and professional development opportunities for learning and performance professionals: