’Tis the season for torch passing.
With many Sections and Branches set to install new officers this fall, those incoming leaders came to ASCE’s headquarters in Reston, VA, Sept. 20 and 21 for the annual Presidents and Governors Forum, conducted by the Leader Training Committee. “Our goal in this is to help prepare the incoming presidents,” said Mike Wenning, P.E., F.ASCE, chair of the Leader Training Committee, “to develop a plan for their presidential years, so they can more effectively provide superior service to the members.”
The Forum featured a variety of roundtable discussions, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities, many led by past and present leaders. Past Region 8 Governor Doug Knapp, P.E., M.ASCE, of the Oregon Section, and past Region 1 Governor Lauren Swett, P.E., M.ASCE, of the Maine Section shared stories about their experiences in ASCE leadership. Knapp led a session sharing his experience with and advice about reenergizing a dormant Section or Branch. Steve Dlugos, P.E., M.ASCE, of the Maryland Section, Catoctin Branch, spoke on successfully launching a new Section or Branch.
Having taken over presidential duties of the Central Ohio Section in February, Carlos Vazquez, P.E., M.ASCE, was excited to attend the forum and compare notes with fellow presidents and governors. “I’m always looking for ideas,” Vazquez said.
With two large schools within his Section – Ohio State University and Ohio University – Vazquez said he is making youth a priority. “We are looking to better integrate the younger members and student chapters,” Vazquez said. “We’re always looking for better ways to make a big family out of it, instead of going our separate ways.”
Vazquez and the other Section and Branch leaders were able to meet many Younger Members from around the country, as the PGF overlapped with the Younger Member Leadership Symposium, conducted by the Committee on Younger Members, during the weekend in Reston. Several of the Sept. 20 sessions integrated both groups, fostering plenty of connections.
“When you develop leadership skills it is benefitting not only for your professional life but also your volunteer life,” said Leslie Payne, ASCE’s director of student and younger member programs.
At 39, Jason Gowland, P.E., M.ASCE, isn’t far removed from his Younger Member days as he looks forward to his new role next month as president for the Florida Section, Gainesville Branch, where the Student Chapter at the University of Florida won national acclaim this past academic year for its triple crown of engineering championships.
“We have a strong Student Chapter,” Gowland said. “But they need help in other ways – mentoring and transitioning between Student Member to Younger Member.”
One of the clear takeaways from the forum, in addition to the practical training and information sessions, was the easy camaraderie among the leaders from all over the country and internationally.
The new Section and Branch leaders, as well as the Younger Members, were able to meet with ASCE President-Elect Mark Woodson, P.E., L.S., D.WRE, F.ASCE, and ASCE President-elect Elect Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, M.COPRI, M.ASCE. Each will soon assume their offices as ASCE’s 2016 President and President-elect respectively at the Society’s annual business meeting in October during the ASCE Convention.
And the new leaders enjoyed meeting with each other, making connections across ASCE’s Regions, Sections, and Branches, and learning much that will enable them to be more effective upon their return home.
“I’m asking for advice and ideas,” Gowland said. “I’m learning about just the whole process of being the president of a Branch.”