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E-Splash June 2013 - Trustee at Large
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash -  June 2013


Chris Ulm
Trustee at Large

As your incoming Trustee-At-Large, I am excited to meet as many members as I can, and represent you to the best of my ability. How am I going to do that? How can I best spend the next two years keeping the momentum of my wise and energetic predecessor? I am going to use this article to get my plan, or goals, in writing so you can tell me to do something different now, or tell me how I did in two years. Bullet points are always good, right?

My planned initial tasks are as follows, with more detail below:

  • Better understand the distribution of members and the board representation
  • Propose adjustments to improve member representation

  • Assist the Education Committee with analysis of locations and topics that fit with the membership distribution

  • Assist the Membership Committee with analysis of geographic regions that have potential for new members

  • Investigate the role of Trustee-At-Large and propose changes if necessary
  •  Assist the Education Committee to the best of my ability, in any way I can.
  • Stop deleting Randy’s emails before I read them, and assist him with his challenging endeavor.
  • Whatever John and the rest of the Board tell me to do, within reason.

I am trying to take advantage of all of the time that I have this honor. I have started to assist the Board with an analysis of where our members are at; not only to make sure that the Board representation for the members is evenly distributed, but also to help us gain insight on where educational opportunities make sense, and where we need to step up our membership drives. Some very basic data that Sandi provided and some GIS gurus here were able to generate a membership by zip code figure that offers some great information. There is more data that can be added, though. I plan to continue to build the database until the GIS guy is sick of pizza and giving up his lunch hour, then I’ll switch to steaks.

I am certain that the data shows that the trustee-to-member ratio is imbalanced. If we can get this closer to being balanced, I would hope that trustees could do an even better job than they currently do meeting, listening, and addressing the needs of their constituency. So I may have some thoughts for the Board to consider.

Also, as we build the database, it may also help us learn more about the locations of operator "clusters” to support the locations we chose for educational events. I think the Education Committee does an outstanding job of this already, but the data to support or offer other thoughts would be interesting.

The database may also help the Membership Committee. If we can see areas where members are joining, or departing, in large clusters, it may help them focus efforts or grow the committee in strategic areas.

Regarding the role of Trustee At-Large, I am learning more and more about how the Board position was developed, its intended role, and its terms and term limits. I plan to further review it, and suggest enhancements to the Board if necessary. My findings with the database process may greatly influence this process, as well.

Lisa, Jeff, David, and all of the members do a phenomenal job of putting together a top-notch training plan twice a year. On top of that, they assemble the operators preconference, apply for awards, and monitor all of the education they provide. Education is what the Section is all about, so their work is vital. My start in leadership was with the Education Committee, and I still greatly enjoy being a part of the process. Recently the Committee tried to eliminate the certificate process in a noble attempt to go green. It was found that there is still a large group of members who rely on the certificates for support of their training. I was glad to be part of the quick process to switch back to using certificates, if the member desired. After only two weeks I was a resource!

Lastly, before I lose your attention (at least for the four of you that have made it this far with me), I have an important announcement for you. You are either an active member, or would make a great active member. If you are a new member, or a longtime member that is finally finding time to get more involved, that’s great! The Section offers many ways to get involved and to help make the organization as great as it is. Whether you have four hours a year, an hour a month, or an hour a week to help out, there is a way you can help. If you are having trouble figuring out what to do, start with an email to me, chris.ulm@strand.com. I understand that the members who you see and consider active, seem to be too active and may be intimidating, but trust me, there are many people who are contributing just an hour or two a month. It couldn’t happen without them.

Thank you again for your support and I look forward to seeing you soon!


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