Outlook positive for year ahead

Martin J. Manning, P.E.
APWA President

Editor's Note: New APWA President Martin J. Manning, P.E., has been a member of the association for more than 30 years. He has been the Director of Public Works for Clark County, Nevada for 16 years.

Manning has worked in the public sector for 37 years, beginning in 1965 as a Civil Engineer I with the City and County of Denver, Colorado. After attending graduate school, he became the Assistant Director of Public Works for the City of El Paso, Texas. In the early 1970s he worked at APWA's headquarters in Chicago as the Director of Research. From there he went to the City of Houston, Texas and served as the Deputy Director of Public Works for the water, wastewater and gas operation. He served in that capacity for 10 years until he went to Clark County in 1985.

Manning did his undergraduate work at the University of Illinois, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He also has a Master of Public Works from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The APWA International Public Works Congress and Exposition kicks off the start of the new program year. We come together at Congress to interact with our peers, to discuss the latest trends, to see what new technical products are available, and to take a peek at what the future has in store. Congress is also a time to look back and reflect on how well we, as an organization, handled the challenges of the preceding months. As a member of the APWA Board of Directors, I can only say that I am proud of our recent accomplishments. This hard-working group of professionals should also be proud of their achievements and have earned full bragging rights for a job well done.

Under the leadership of Richard Ridings along with an outstanding Executive Director and committed staff, APWA has recognized several significant achievements in 2002. Starting from a rather tough beginning in Philadelphia, the board focused on a successful effort to realign various programs and activities that support the organization's strategic plan.

These accomplishments include the adoption of an annual business plan and a corresponding budget for a new July to June fiscal year. In addition, the roles of the at-large directors and their relationship to the APWA Technical Committees (formerly P/E/T's) were redefined. This resulted in the strengthening of the organization's support for its technical teams. Also noteworthy is that new committee assignments were made well in advance of the Kansas City Congress and resources were also budgeted early. This proactive approach allowed key committee members to use their days at Congress to prepare for the coming year.

With such strong programs and action teams already in place, it is now time to concentrate on the 2003 priorities that include:

  • Growth in membership. Today's uncertain economy and tighter budgets make gaining new members and retaining the current membership a greater challenge than in the past. By the same token, there has never been a time when the opportunities offered by APWA to public works professionals are of greater value than right now.

  • Government affairs and external relations. The initiatives for advocacy on behalf of public works will continue and hopefully increase in the future. This will be achieved through the Legislative Advocacy Task Force created to support appropriate governmental policies aimed at enhancing the nation's infrastructure.

  • Services and products to the membership. More technical tools will be made available to APWA members for education, advocacy, and the exchange of knowledge.

  • Organizational development and communications. This year's challenges will require a multi-skilled staff and may also include the outsourcing of some staff support. A concerted outreach effort to other public organizations and government agencies will also be encouraged.

  • Financial Management. Successful financial management practices used in previous years will be continued in an effort to increase the annual net worth of APWA.
As the year unfolds, you can expect to read and hear more about the status of these five issues. In the meantime, the "APWA Team" including the Board of Directors, the appointed committee members, the Executive Director, the association staff, and myself will be hard at work to serve the membership and demonstrate progress in each of these areas.

In closing, I would like to refer to a notation I recently came across which as the president held particular meaning for me. It said, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." Fortunately, APWA is an organization with a very clear mission. We know exactly where we are going and have the means to reach our destination. Throughout my public works career, APWA has offered numerous opportunities that have shaped my outlook, my viewpoint and, ultimately, my future. And so it is with great expectations that I look forward to the journey ahead.