Michigan genetic counselors met as an informal group, known as the Michigan Association of Genetic Counselors (MAGC) for over fifteen years. In the “early days,” meetings were held in the homes of genetic counselors across the state. For many years, this informal structure was sufficient in providing Michigan genetic counselors an opportunity for professional networking. As licensure emerged as a top priority for the MAGC, the need to formalize the group became apparent. Feedback from lobbyists and legislators stressed that if the MAGC was going to be taken seriously, we needed to organize and present ourselves as a legitimate, united, focused and financially sound group of professionals. A formal organization would allow the counselors in the state to establish credibility among statewide stakeholders in the healthcare field, the state legislature, the governor’s office, and the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC).

The process of formalizing the MAGC would ultimately take over two years to fully accomplish. The process started in the fall of 2005 with the drafting of vision and mission statements and the creation of a “transition team” charged with establishing a governance structure, drafting bylaws, developing a slate of candidates and conducting the first election. The first board of directors was elected in May, 2006 and in July, 2006 MAGC became a nonprofit corporation by filing its Articles of Incorporation with the state of Michigan. We also secured an Employer Identification Number with the IRS and in February 2007, the first set of bylaws was ratified by the membership. While a great deal had been accomplished, more work remained, including obtaining tax exempt status with the IRS and securing appropriate insurance coverage for our organization and its officers. It was at this point that the opportunity to become a state chapter became a reality. After a mutually agreeable affiliation agreement was developed by NSGC and with the approval of our membership, the MAGC became a state chapter of the NSGC in January 2008.

The MAGC is proud of its accomplishments over the past ten years. In that time, the membership has grown to >100 members, the annual education conference has attracted out-of-state genetic counselors and non-genetic counseling professionals, events have been launched for professional development and networking amongst genetic counselors in the state, and licensure efforts continue to be a top priority. We are anticipating a bright future for MAGC and the genetic counseling community in the state of Michigan.