Incoming Chair Speech presented at the 2017 Kennewick Conference Awards Banquet

First I would like to thank Lacey for her work and commitment to the Section this past year, it is very interesting how things can emerge during the course of a year and it is a testament to Lacey’s leadership and the Board for handling these items in such a productive and efficient manner. Furthermore, thank you Lacey for the membership survey. This survey provides great insight and comments that will help guide me this next year to insure the Section continues to be recognized as one of the most successful Sections in the Association.

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people. Frist, thank you Maura for putting up with me, not an easy task. Thank you for your love and support, I still don’t get why, but I’ll take it.

Brenda Lennox, what amazing work you have done for the Section and the Association. For those that may have been living under a rock….Brenda will take the gavel in June to be the 136th president of the association, the 5th from our Section and only the 3rd woman ever to receive the gavel. Brenda has been a mentor for me and many others. For someone that continues to say that she is not a technical person, she certainly knows how to get things done, an amazing communicator. I look forward in seeing Brenda in Philly and I hope you can all come to see Brenda take the reins. Pun intended.

Both Lacey and I made a commitment to Past Chair Randy Black to continue the implementation of the 2020 Vision, a commitment that I will continue throughout my year as chair. This initiative began with discussion in 2014 with Randy and a young professional, Meredith Noble. Since that discussion this initiative has made great strides with our young professionals stepping up, as always, and creating a path forward with a solid foundation that meets milestone after milestone.

I would like to thank Julie Smitherman for her guidance and leadership as chair of the committee and Kevin Wyckoff for taking over this year as we will see

more and more good work being done. In my other life as a Department Director for the City of Spokane I have seen firsthand the problems we face as more and more Baby Boomers move towards retirement. In the Water Department alone we have witnessed almost 40 percent turnover in personnel. I am sure that I am not alone, so this vision continues to be very important for Systems throughout the Pacific Northwest.

In order to continue the mission and vision of the Association and the Section one of my key goals is to make sure we are staying relevant with the needs of our members while aligning ourselves with the Association’s goals and objectives. I am committed to the task of reviewing our Mission and Vision Statements and by doing so creating Strategic Objectives and a strategic plan that will provide greater transparency, accountability and define roles and responsibilities. Our Strategic Goals and Objectives will not happen behind closed doors. We will roll out a draft version to members, committees and Subsections for their input. Transparency and Accountability are more than just buzz words. Through collaboration, relationship building and communication I hope we can engage our committees, our Sub-sections, and our members. By working together we can be all be stronger and foster an environment of engagement and inclusion proving the value of membership. By defining roles and responsibilities we can provide members, committees, and board members with the information they need to be successful and a clear path to understand what the roles and responsibilities they take on is all about.

It is important to understand what challenges may lay in your path. I would like to share with you a story told to me many years ago by George Raveling a former WSU basketball coach that spoke at our annual high school sports banquet in Brewster. Coach Raveling shared with us that as a young boy growing up in Mississippi they did not have running water and would have to make several trips to a freshwater stream every day. One morning on his way to the stream he encountered a large alligator sunning on the path next to the stream. Coach Raveling immediately dropped his pale and ran home.

When his mother saw that he did not bring back any water she asked why. Coach Raveling said there was a 10-foot alligator by the stream; it was the biggest alligator he had ever seen. His mother told him he was being silly and that the alligator was more afraid of him than he was of the alligator. Coach simply shrugged and said well then if that’s the case that water ain’t fit to drink!

Throughout life there are many obstacles or alligators that may block your path or lie just beneath the surface waiting to trip you. In General Colin Powell’s words, “Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so just because you might not like what you find.” Statements such as; that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it are a slogan of the complacent and a call to non-arms. To me this mindset assumes that today’s reality will continue tomorrow in a nice tidy linear fashion. This is not true and in this fantasy world you will never find people that are proactive and solve problems as they emerge. This fantasy world is my alligator. With the people that are on the stage tonight and with you, the membership we’ll make alligator boots and handbags of any obstacle.

As I look at the people on the Stage with me tonight I realize that I am very blessed to have one of the most talented groups of individuals that I have had the pleasure to serve with. Our diversity, our willingness to serve and our commitment to the Section makes me feel all things are possible. For those that know me know I enjoy friends and the simple things in life fishing, a good stout but those that really know me, know the thing I truly love is getting the work done.

Before I leave the stage tonight I would like to remember and thank Frank Triplett. Frank gave and was committed to the Pacific Northwest Section and the Inland Empire Sub-section. Frank gave me the opportunity, the resources, and the confidence to succeed. For that I will always be grateful but it was not always easy with Frank. Marshall shared this with me, after Frank’s passing, that “when brought up in a trial by fire, you can’t help but respect the fire.” Frank Triplett introduced me to Brenda Lennox and Nicki Pozos, both have had a huge impact on me and I’m sure many others. I may not be on the stage tonight without Frank’s introductions and their influence.

Last but certainly not least I want to thank you, the members. Our membership is strong and growing; our membership is what makes this Section great. If anyone here tonight would like to know how they can be more involved in this amazing organization, which I call family, please see me or any of the outstanding people on the stage.

Thank you Kennewick for an awesome conference, thanks again to the Local Arrangements Committee, great job.

Thank you all for spending some time with us tonight, following the banquet there will be an incoming chair reception at the Cyber Cafe. I hope to see you there.

I look forward in seeing you all in Philly to see one of our own take the gavel, and next May in Tacoma at the 2018 conference.
With that the 2017 Pacific Northwest Section annual conference is officially closed.

Good night and may god bless you. Oh yeah, GO DAWGS!