TECHNICAL COMMITTEE NEWS

Technical Committees meet in Kansas City

Committees the "pillars of this organization"

R. Kevin Clark
Editor, APWA Reporter

"Okay, so I'm going to speak for two hours and then we're all going to get in the bus and go to Barry Road to Starbucks for a decent cup of coffee," APWA President Dwayne Kalynchuk told the 72 attendees at the Combined Technical Committee Meeting on Saturday, March 27. However, while the members of the Board of Directors, Technical Committees and staff were amused by Kalynchuk's opening, that's not exactly the way things transpired that day.

Indeed, a full day of networking, problem solving, and discussing hot topics was ahead of the Technical Committees and leaders of the association, as more than 20 people spoke during the all-day meeting. The Combined Meeting is one of just two opportunities during the year (the other is at our annual Congress) for the committee members to meet face-to-face to discuss issues that affect APWA's membership. The fourth annual meeting was held at the Airport Marriott in Kansas City, Missouri.

On Friday, March 26, and then again on Sunday, March 28, the day following the Combined Meeting, all nine of the Technical Committees met to begin the development of their business plan for the coming fiscal year; discuss a variety of topics for development of the three guaranteed educational sessions each is allowed for Congress 2005 in Minneapolis; complete a thorough review of the APWA position statements in their area of expertise; and select topics and possible authors for articles in their area-specific edition of the APWA Reporter. The following committees met on Friday: Engineering and Technology; Fleet Services; Leadership and Management; Solid Waste Management; and Transportation. The four committees meeting on Sunday included Emergency Management; Facilities & Grounds; Utilities and Public Right-of-Way (UPROW); and Water Resources Management. For information regarding specific activities and highlights of each committee, go to www.apwa.net/About/PET/ for the minutes from the meetings on March 26 and 28.

Keeping the group on track during the Combined Meeting was Ann Daniels, APWA Director of Technical Services, who served as the meeting's facilitator. After introducing President Kalynchuk, Executive Director Peter King, and members of the Board of Directors, Technical Committees and staff, Daniels invited Kalynchuk to the podium to provide an update on the state of the association.

Kalynchuk spoke on a number of topics including the importance of our advocacy efforts, the continued development of our Click, Listen & Learn series, and issues such as accreditation, Congress and the Snow Conference, and membership services. Then he directed his attention to the committee members and the benefits they bring to the association. "The one thing I want to stress here is just how important the work of the Technical Committees is to this association," he said. "You really are the pillars of this organization. So I want to thank you for your participation here this weekend and for your involvement throughout the year. It's very important to have volunteers like you here. In fact, somebody commented last night, they were just impressed with the quality of people in the room, and it really is a phenomenal group we have here today."

Peter King shared with the group highlights of the Needs Assessment Survey that was conducted last year. As King indicated, the purpose of the survey was to assess member satisfaction with current product services, and to identify new areas of need or interest so that we can create additional value to current members and potential new members.

President-Elect Tom Trice addresses the group at the 2004 Combined Technical Committee Meeting.

Throughout his presentation King provided statistics that came directly from both the needs and branding surveys covering areas such as membership, loyalty to the organization, and brand personality. "We are thought to be high quality and relevant, which speaks to the members' self-image," King said. As to why people join APWA, King indicated the research suggests that the top three reasons are to keep up-to-date on technical developments; because APWA programs and products are relevant to their work; and for the continuing education. "If you look at the work that you do as Technical Committees, you'll see how important it is—it is why people join and why they continue to pay dues to participate in APWA," he told the committee members.

Following King's remarks the attendees heard the ringing of a bell in the conference room, the first of many such occurrences throughout the day. "This is our signal at the moment," Daniels said. "Throughout the day when you hear that, you know something is going to happen. And several times during the day it's APWA trivia. To the person who gets the answer right first, we'll make a presentation of something wonderful from APWA." The "something wonderful" turned out to be gifts from the APWA Premium Collection such as an APWA hat or coffee mug. In all there were about 20 APWA trivia questions asked throughout the day, which was a nice way to add a little levity to the meeting. One of the first questions asked is as follows: "This year there are six chapters that are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Who can name those six?" (The answer appears at the end of this article.)

Also throughout the day, the chairs and various members of the nine Technical Committees gave presentations on subjects from their areas of expertise. Listening to them describe their business plans and activities over the course of the year, it was obvious that Technical Committee members are chosen because they have extensive knowledge in specific areas of public works, and that the committees are indeed the "centers of expertise" within the association. Along with developing topics for the three guaranteed sessions for each Congress and writing articles for the APWA Reporter, the committee members respond to requests for information on the infoNOW Communities; serve as a contact point to provide APWA positions and testimony to federal agencies; and conduct surveys within a subject area to assist in developing positions or providing input to federal requests. There is also a great amount of coordinated work and overlapping issues within the committees; the Homeland Security Subcommittee, just as an example, is comprised of a member from each Technical Committee, and those members brief their own committees in their monthly conference calls as to the needs and activities of the subcommittee. To see the meeting minutes of all nine Technical Committees from March 26 and 28, go to www.apwa.net/About/PET/.

Daniels gave the next presentation which involved a new PowerPoint(r) template that provides information and background on the Technical Committees and their operations. As she explained, the template focuses on the role of the committees, how each committee functions, and the topics each committee discusses throughout the year. "It was the goal of the Technical Services Department to develop an off-the-shelf-type program that will be sent to the education chairs of the chapters, and have available to offer as a program at one of their chapter meetings," Daniels said.

David Dancy, APWA Director of Marketing, gave the next presentation involving an update of APWA's branding initiative which began last year. Dancy provided an overview of the branding effort, including the development of a five-year plan along with the reasons for focusing on the brand. "We want to create consistent, recognizable identity standards," he said. "Any good brand has a consistent, recognizable brand identity statement. When you think of Pepsi you think of red, white and blue colors; you know their logo and know everything about them. When you think of Hallmark, you know what it means to you and that's brand. So one of the things that we've really concentrated on is to create consistent, recognizable identity standards for APWA, which is very important for the continuation of a strong brand, especially in today's world of heavy competition."

President-Elect Tom Trice spoke about the recent Strategic Planning Committee meeting held in Kansas City, and revisions to APWA's Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Directors. According to Trice, the Strategic Planning Committee reviewed the current plan and has discussed accomplishments, challenges, opportunities, and resource allocations. They concentrated on five critical areas: education; advocacy and lobbying; membership; non-dues revenue sources; and partnerships and alliances. "Overall, we are headed in the right direction," Trice said. "We're going to engage more members in advocacy and lobbying, create a plan for chapter and branch development, modify our partnership policies to ensure that the benefits support the goals, and add statements to affirm the goals of APWA as the preferred choice of professional membership."

Following Trice's presentation, Peter King introduced Mark Tibbetts, APWA Senior Manager of Development, who is dedicated to pulling together plans related to corporate support, grants, contracts, and proposals for various non-dues funding sources to support our mission. Tibbetts spoke about some of the initiatives he has been working on for the past six months as well as various pending items and the direction we are heading. "The focus really has been looking at sponsorships," he said. "But there is tremendous opportunity in Washington in terms of looking at different grant programs and for funding. It is a challenging environment, but there's also opportunity there."

After a lunch break in the Marriott's Lakeview Room, King returned to the podium to provide an overview of the Government Affairs Committee's activities as well as some of the ongoing activities with the chapters in our advocacy program. According to King, the four advocacy principles which the Government Affairs Committee is responsible for working on include support for adequate investment in our public infrastructure; respect for local authority; reasonable regulations and protection from unfunded mandates; and support for streamlining government oversight. "All of the work that we do in the advocacy area really revolves around these four basic principles as we move forward," King said.

King continued with stressing the importance of the involvement of the Technical Committee members, particularly in terms of congressional testimony. "There are opportunities for testimony, and we need technical experts to be able to do that," he said. "One of the things that APWA brings to the table is the technical expertise that you have. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and other groups can bring the elected officials in, but if they really want testimony on specific programs of a technical nature, you are the people that need to be doing that in support of our priorities. And, we are doing more of that on Capitol Hill."

Brent Paloutzian, Web Developer in the APWA Information Technology Department, then provided a comprehensive overview of the APWA website for the attendees. His overview covered the entire site, including the Bookstore, infoNOW, the Members Only section and many other areas, "to make sure that everybody here who's volunteering to do their part for this organization knows how to make the most of all the tools and the resources that we have available for you. We're constantly updating the website and we've got a ton of content out there," he said.

Members of the Fleet Services Committee during a group exercise at the Combined Meeting. From left are Cathy Radek, Superintendent of Administrative Services, City of Evanston, IL; Charlie Caudill, Equipment Maintenance Superintendent, City of Yuma, AZ; Don Moore, Equipment Services Director, City of Farmers Branch, TX; Judy Workman, Fleet Manager, City of Greeley, CO; Sharon Subadan, Fleet Management Division Chief, Montgomery County, MD; Committee Chair Sam Lamerato, Superintendent of Motor Pool, City of Troy, MI; and Larry Frevert, Board Liaison, Assistant Director - Engineering, Planning and Design, Kansas City, MO Parks and Recreation Department.

Following Paloutzian's website overview, Kristina Tanasichuk, Senior Manager of Government Relations in APWA's Washington, D.C. office, spoke about advocacy efforts within the association. "I wanted to talk about advocacy as a broad term," she began, "because it encompasses government relations, media relations, external organization relations, personal relations, and membership relations. What I've been hearing through my meetings with all the committees is that you recognize how important those interrelationships are. And you've been asking me, 'Have you guys been focusing on developing those types of relationships?' and we certainly have. We look to you, the Technical Committees, to help us further develop those."

Ann Daniels again returned to the podium to discuss the accreditation program and the self-assessment portion of that program. "Right now we have 15 agencies that have been accredited and 32 others that are under contract at this moment," she said. "So the program is growing, and as we make our visits and we realize how much information you share from your committees and the work that you need to have done in the agency, it makes a big difference as we see how agencies are pulling those things together."

Daniels remained at the podium as the full day of presentations finally came to an end. After thanking the Board of Directors and the staff, she saved a special thank-you for the members of the Technical Committees. "You're very valuable to us," she said. "Having you all together and being able to interact with you really makes it easier for us to do our work as well. Thank you for being here today, for your leadership and support, and for moving the organization forward as you do."

Kevin Clark can be reached at (800) 848-APWA or at kclark@apwa.net.

Answer to trivia question from page 6: Arizona; Manitoba; New England; San Diego/Imperial Counties; Tennessee; and Wisconsin