William A. Verkest, P.E.

Celebrating the "WOW" association

William A. Verkest, P.E.
APWA President

Sometime ago, in another venue, I commented that our tomorrows are closer than we think, or, at least, might want them to be. And so it is with this issue of the Reporter, and my last President's Message. How did it arrive so fast?

What seems like a very short year as President has gone by more than quickly. But, certainly it has been a great year—personally (for both Judy and me), as well as for the association. As I look back and reflect on the accomplishments of APWA, the chapters I visited, the association-related trips outside of the chapter visits that I made, and the new and older friends we look forward to seeing again, I have come to one insurmountable conclusion. We are a "WOW" association.

In nearly 40 years as a member of APWA, I have watched us grow from a good association, to a great association, and now, to what I consider a "WOW" association. Clearly, this transformation has been a function of a superb APWA staff, Boards of Directors who maintained the necessary vision, chapters dedicated to serving their members, and individual members who contributed to our many successes.

From left to right: 2006 Chapter President Terry Hardy, APWA President Bill Verkest and 2007 Chapter President Paul Smeltzer at the Ontario Chapter's Annual General Meeting (photo by Colin K. Sizer, chapter member)

You may recall that during Congress in Kansas City last year I spoke to a "WOW" association being underpinned by vision, courage, determination and talent. Truly, I witnessed these principles in every chapter we visited. I saw them in fried green tomatoes, as well as other great banquet and restaurant fare; technical programs providing solutions to the everyday challenges of our profession; and exhibit floors providing the latest in equipment, products and services. I saw it in award presentations and similar member recognition programs. And I saw it in the dedicated leadership that transferred seamlessly from one person to the next, even as I had the privilege of installing new officers. Every chapter we visited left its own unique impression, an impression that I will long remember. The axiom certainly holds true—chapters are the strength of our association.

As I started the year, I set out six objectives. I am pleased to say that all six were met; honestly, some more completely than others. My highest priority—Chapter Capacity Building—showed significant support at the chapter level, and I do believe that those chapters that did embrace it will further add to their strength and that of APWA.

"Network with us old guys, and network with the other first-timers that are here," President Verkest said to the attendees at the First-Timers Meeting during the 2006 Congress in Kansas City.

Looking forward, I am confident APWA will continue to grow. Our Strategic Plan, our education and certification initiatives, our advocacy program, our chapter outreach, and our ever-expanding educational programs will keep us the professional association of choice. And I've had a peak at President-Elect Larry Frevert's objectives for his term as President. The future looks—well, "WOW"!

Just saying "thank you" doesn't seem to be enough; but it's appropriate that I close with a few. First, thank you to the Board of Directors for your tireless efforts in addressing the serious, and the not-so-serious, issues that made us successful. Thank you to the APWA staff for your unwavering support to me personally and for your continuing dedication to the membership. Thank you to those who contributed to the President's Message and helped to keep current issues in front of our members. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who served in leadership positions at the national level, and accepted my request to do "just a little bit more." Thank you to the chapters that hosted Judy and me, and made us feel so very welcome. And, thank you to our members, for being members, and for your daily contributions to the public works profession.

It has been my pleasure to serve you as President of APWA. It was truly a "WOW" experience.