To begin a year of service as the International Franchise Association's chairwoman is a sincere honor and one that I embrace with humility. It is a privilege to be entrusted with the leadership of the world's oldest and largest association representing franchising at a time when America welcomes a new president and a new Congress. This privilege bears great responsibility too, especially in today's uncertain economic times, but the support and guidance provided by IFA's board of directors and entire membership gives me great confidence in facing the tasks that lie ahead.
It's important that we keep in mind the history of the International Franchise Association, which next year will celebrate 50 years of successfully seizing the opportunities and meeting the challenges which have come its way. We must be mindful of the determination and commitment that our founding visionaries held as they steadfastly built not only this organization, but the industry of franchising, during the past half-century. Today, the legions of franchise entrepreneurs who direct hundreds of thousands of franchised establishments and provide meaningful jobs for millions of people exist as a testament to those visionaries. And while many are no longer with us, the spirit of their leadership will be unmistakable when our association gathers in San Diego for its annual convention to share ideas and develop strategies for the months ahead.
This issue of Franchising World offers highlights about the premier event in franchising ranging from the much-anticipated keynote address to be delivered by former President Clinton to details of educational sessions, networking opportunities and exhibitions. Included also are the compelling stories of four industry leaders who will be honored with IFA's highest awards in recognition of their lasting contributions.
Exchanging ideas to confront today's challenges is the topic...