Incoming Chair Speech presented at the 201 Tacoma Conference Awards Banquet

First, I would like to say thanks to Dan Kegley and Lacey Goeres-Priest, our past chairs who have done an outstanding job of guiding the Board of Trustees and our Section over the last two years.  Your dedication, leadership, and hard work for the Section and its members is appreciated.

One thing that I have learned from my time as a board member, there is a lot that goes on in the background to operate the Pacific Northwest Section.  To our volunteer members who lead and support all of the activities of the Section Committees and Subsections, most often giving up their own free time, thank you for all that you do, we would not be here without you.

The membership is once again at a cross-roads.  As the push to engage our Young Professionals (YP’s) over the last decade and with the implementation of Past Chair Randy Black’s 2020 Vision, the growing and future leadership amongst our utilities and within the PNWS is becoming self-evident.  As our keynote speaker Elisa Webb-Hill pointed out, the Millennials have indeed arrived, and they are looking for opportunities to contribute.   I also look at the diversity of our membership, and with our Board of Trustees, I have seen the shift over the last 30 years, it is one of the best things that has happened over that time-span.  We still have a ways to go, so that every member, regardless of gender, ancestry, or other God-given attribute, be treated with dignity as professionals with equal opportunity to succeed and follow their passions within their careers.  Let’s not forget our Veterans either.  We are connected with the Association’s Veterans Initiative, an Initiative that our President, Brenda Lennox has forwarded over the last year, with the goal to find, recruit, hire and retain veterans in the water and wastewater industry.

Two years ago the Board started in setting forth the member survey to learn about more about our membership’s concerns and needs. Last year, Looking into the data provided by the survey, the Trustee Team translated the information and began formulating a strategic plan and lean business plan based on the information provided via the survey   This was hard work by the entire Board of Trustees, and I hope that this strategic plan, and we as a Board, have responded to the needs of our membership, and that these plans will move forth with fruition.

As I enter this coming year as Chair my main focus is to maintain continuity with past chairs in forwarding the Strategic Plan, to complete and implement the Business Plan and to implement a new board organizational structure for Section Committees.

In forwarding the Strategic Plan, let me summarize:  The strategic plan contains three strategic initiatives, each with three or four objective goals to move each initiative forward.  Being practical, I have chosen to focus on one objective from each initiative to accomplish over this next year, simply stated – we cannot do everything in one year.

1st Strategic Initiative  – Focus on Member Engagement/Education and Training    Objective – Increase Subsection and Committee Outreach and Integration

We would like to promote more coordination between Subsections and Committees in getting them to team up to provide combined educational opportunities.  Many Subsections provide the venue through their meetings and Short Schools.  Many Committees have had a difficult time drawing attendees to their education opportunities.  We are missing a big opportunity in not integrating the committee specialization with the Subsection opportunities.  In order to accommodate greater coordination, we have arranged like Committees into Divisions in the new Section Organization structure.    With this, each Trustee Liaison who helps guide the Committee Divisions will set routine communications with the Divisional Committee Chairs to encourage discussions of how integration of educational opportunities can occur.   If we can foster the Committees and Subsections to join forces in education, it should bear more fruit.

Another Education opportunity that is in the works is a Leadership Symposium in the Fall of 2019.  This Ad-Hoc Committee is being led by Chris Wanner & Jill Hoyenga, who are doing an excellent job in coordinating with committees to set up a symposium that will help those who to learn that leadership occurs at all levels, and we want to help those who are curious about supervision and management within their utilities, to help guide them through the maze of competencies and skills needed to be successful.  We look forward to this symposium developing further over the next year.

2nd Strategic Initiative  –  Ensure Organizational Stewardship

Objective – Provide Financial Accountability

Two areas in financial accountability that we will focus on – First is to submit a balanced budget for 2019 and to have it approved at the Fall 2018 Trustee meeting.  We are asking committees to submit their budgets in June and are asking our budget committee to have the proposed budget to the Board to review by our July Board workshop.  This will give the board and the budget committee up to 2 months to work to a balanced budget and get it approved by fall.  This won’t be easy, the Board will need to prioritize and make some difficult decisions to move forward.  But, we cannot sustain deficit budgets over several years without the consequences eventually catching up with us.

The second area of financial accountability is to continue to strive for transparency in our financial status as we go through the year.   We will provide a balanced budget, and report regularly on the progress of the budget’s income and expenditures through the year.  Summaries of the Section’s quarterly financial statements will be available to the membership on the website, which is a small beginning to shifting to a culture of financial transparency within the Section.

3rd Strategic Initiative – Increase Advocacy and Philanthropy

Objective – Increase involvement with the Association 

The PNWS currently deeply involved at the Association Level. We need to continue this momentum for the future, and now is the time to ensure our involvement with the Association will stay strong.     I find it ironic that one of our goals is to increase involvement, as we have from our Section the Association President and two Directors on the Association Board.   We need to continue planning how our Section will continue to have such influence at the Association, and not rest on our laurels at this time.

I conducted a quick review of all the committees at the Association level, and we have a lot of members in our section who participate on National Committees, but many of them live in the shadows, conducting volunteer work for the Association in a silent way.  We need to tap into that talent and find those silent leaders who have influence at the committee levels, perhaps they are our future leaders from our Section at the Association level.    Our goal is to seek the talent now for our future leadership, if you are interested, please let us know!

In closing, I would like to thank the Eugene Water & Electric Board for letting me serve this Section, and for letting me participate at different levels of the Section over the years.

Lastly, thanks to my wife Kathy, who has supported me unconditionally throughout my career.

With that the 2018 Pacific Northwest Section Conference and Board Meeting is now adjourned.  See you in Vancouver next year!  Go Beavs!