President's Message

It's been a great year

Judith M. Mueller
APWA President

By the time this issue of the APWA Reporter hits your mailboxes, Congress in Philadelphia will be about ready to begin and my year as president will be drawing to a close. And what a year it has been! I may not miss the airports, the delays and the bad weather, but I will definitely miss the people, who have all been so wonderful. Being able to meet so many members has made this a year I'll never forget.

It's difficult to select highlights from the year when there have been so many, but I'll mention a few. One of the highlights has been to see the growth in the infoNOW Communities, of which there are now nearly 3,600 members taking advantage of all of the benefits that infoNOW brings. The most important aspect of infoNOW is that it gives our members a way to communicate with each other almost instantaneously. Most of the infoNOW answers come within 48 hours, so it is a way for members to tie in to their peers and get answers in real time.

I also believe we've taken great strides regarding our government affairs. The work of our Washington office has kept public works in front of our elected leaders and policy makers. What is important to us in legislation is being heard. We now have a much higher profile for public works than we have ever had.

I have also seen more chapters take the Strategic Plan seriously, and look at how they as chapters are doing strategically. In my opinion, all of the chapters are committed to membership. Chapters are becoming far more sophisticated with their newsletters and in how they communicate with their members. More and more chapters have created websites as a way to get information to their members quickly and easily.

As an organization, I believe we are still struggling with membership, both in terms of attracting members who are willing to work for chapters as well as retaining members. This reflects what is happening in everyone's lives today-everyone is so busy and pulled in so many different directions, and it is very difficult to find members who are willing to give the volunteer time because they have so many other things happening in their life. However, chapters are continuously looking for ways to attract younger members and new professionals in the field. It is a challenge that we need to work on, and I know it is one of the priorities of Richard Ridings, our president elect.

A word of thanks...
It hasn't been easy to balance the responsibilities between being president and being a public works director. In that regard, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my great staff in Charlottesville, and especially my administrative assistant, Trudy. They were all willing to step up and operate at a higher level in my absence. Without them, and a very supportive City Manager, I couldn't have done it.

I would also like to show my appreciation for modern technology. Portable computers and e-mail keep you in touch in a way that wasn't possible five or ten years ago. The great part is that if a citizen writes to you and gets an answer, he or she doesn't know where you are sitting when you type the answer. I believe using technology helped me greatly this past year and gave me the opportunity to stay in touch, no matter where I was.

Finally, I would like to thank the APWA staff. Everyone on the staff-in both Kansas City and in Washington-was incredibly helpful to me, and I'm going to miss having that interaction with them on a regular basis. Many of our members don't have the personal interaction with the staff and don't realize what an amazingly valuable resource they are to the association. Not only are they smart, hard working and helpful, but also warm, funny and interesting individuals. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with the staff, and they have been a tremendous resource to me in fulfilling my duties as your president.