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A Message From Past President Beth Engum

January 14, 2022

A Message From Past President Beth Engum

Welcome to 2022! As Nick Egger picks up the presidential gavel, I would be remiss if I did not reflect on 2021. Although I will venture a guess it was not everything many hoped for, it was pretty much impossible to be worse than 2020. 

Looking back, I must admit relationships with my colleagues have suffered. Suddenly not being able to interact with people I am accustomed to seeing in person on a regular basis, whether daily or monthly, has left a hole. I am left feeling disconnected and somewhat restless. Can you relate?
I strongly believe that the depth and breadth of personal connections and strength of shared experiences in our industry have been the foundation of our collective success. This, added to the anxiety, uncertainty, and necessary focus on family through this difficult period, has stolen enjoyment from work, which is typically a source of fulfillment. I worry that new people entering our profession will not understand and embrace the value of meeting in person, learning through experience, and cultivating long-term relationships that lead to trust and partnership.
But I’m not a worrier, so I am choosing to look ahead with the goal of getting back to where I think we should be. I know we all have different situations, but if you share my sentiment, please consider doing some of the following:
  • Go in the office a time or two this week.
  • Stop by and have a conversation with someone you haven’t talked to in a while, especially young and/or newer staff
  • Meet with someone face-to-face instead of by phone or video conference if you are in the same office.
  • Send someone a hand-written note with a personal message or reminder of an experience you share.
  • Give someone a call to let them know you are thinking of them.
  • Speak up and let your organization’s leadership know you think getting back to normal and in-person interaction is important for job satisfaction and mental health.
The APWA-MN 2022 agenda includes many of our traditional opportunities to interact and adopts best practices developed over the past two years out of necessity. At the final 2021 Executive Committee meeting in December, there was enthusiasm for meeting in person but agreement that having the option to join via video to maximize participation and provide flexibility is a priority. Below is a list of activities to look forward to:
  • Once again, February is Infrastructure month and time for more virtual Coffee Talks beginning Thursday, February 10th. Minnesota Senator Ann Johnson Stuart will again partner with us to engage state legislators. This year the focus is on water with the primary audience being cities and townships. 
  • Continued partnership with the Minnesota Science Museum.
  • A revamped Minnesota Chapter website.
  • The newly formed Asset Management Committee is entering its first full year as a committee. The purpose of the committee will focus on helping member agencies understand what asset management is and how it can be used to benefit the communities we serve. It will follow the guidance provided by the APWA National committee with the same name.
  • A refreshed MN2050 Vision that includes strengthened partnerships with chapter Government Affairs and Raise our Grade Committees as well as external partners like ASCE.
  • The Communications Committee will be creating more video interviews, like the one of Jeannine Clancy, outgoing Chapter Delegate (see video here).
  • The Spring Conference at Grandview Lodge in Nisswa May 11-13 and the Fall Conference at Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center November 16-18. Both 2021 conferences were tremendously successful, so we will enjoy a second year of conference planning support from Mary Detloff with Crescendo Consulting Solutions.
  • A technical tour that highlights the history of the Minnesota Chapter.
  • Return of the Hamline University Public Works Executive Fellowship Program, last offered in 2016.
  • PWX 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina August 28-31. Minnesota Chapter Vice-President and Chapter Dinner Host already has a few venues in mind!
Thank you for your continued support of the Minnesota Chapter of APWA. Cheers to 2022!

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