How quickly the time has flown by this year! It seems as if my first day as your CEO was just a couple of weeks ago when in reality it has been seven months. What your board has accomplished during this brief period of time with me is nothing short of amazing.
I led them through a strategic planning exercise that lasted six months and the end product, approved by the board in June, will be the blueprint PERI follows as we grow our great association from now until 2020. We will revisit the plan beginning in 2019 and set a vision for the next five years.
The results of the many months of planning by your board are already being implemented. Some of these changes and improvements are easily noticed while others will be less visible but every bit as important in helping us achieve our goals.
For example, we are focusing on eight areas the board correctly identified as being priorities for your association. I will share insights with you today on three of these important competencies. They include the obvious such as advocacy, the top priority of our association. Our number one goal has always been to protect your pension. This will not change. We will be challenging ourselves to find ways to become more engaged from the chapter level all the way to the state office in order to further our efforts on the legislative front.
No association can hope to be as effective as possible if it isn’t growing its membership. Membership development will be a major focus for us now and in the coming years. I have substantial experience in this area and will be working with you to expand our ranks. There is strength in numbers! I also challenge you to sell the benefits of your local chapters to members. I have already visited several and see there is value with many of the programs and speakers I’ve heard. More can be done to help chapters expand and that will be on our docket as well.
Communications is also a very important competency. This is a broad area that will take in everything from member relations, rebranding – giving PERI an exciting new look, public relations and much more. As you can see, your PERI newsletter has a new look, sporting a new logo and a font that is easier to read. We will be making other exciting improvements in the coming months including a new interactive website that will be filled with high value content and be easy to navigate.
We are looking at potentially adding a number of new member benefits to further enhance the value of your membership in PERI. I wish I could share more with you now but I hope to be able to report back with further details in my next column this fall.
I want to thank several people for their service to PERI over the years. First is our departing chairwoman, Bev Calvert, who has spent the better part of 14 years on the PERI board providing leadership to our members. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her this year and will miss her smiling face and ‘can do’ attitude she brought to the board.
I also want to thank Carolyn Waddle who recently resigned as our District 7 representative. Carolyn exemplified what it means to passionately represent the needs of the members in her district. Her common sense approach was appreciated by the board. I found her wisdom and how she expressed herself refreshing and insightful. We wish her well as she focuses on other important matters.
Also, kudos to John Gilchrist, your PERI lobbyist, for keeping a close eye on the General Assembly, especially as we followed H.J.R. 6, a resolution that if it had passed could have created havoc for OPERS’ ability to effectively meet its investment objectives. I know he will be updating you in more detail on this and other issues that could have adversely impacted OPERS and your pension. I urge you to learn more about these in his column also in this newsletter.
As always, the team here in Westerville is interested in hearing from members who may have questions about our work. Remember we are here for you.