President’s Message: Moving Forward- Summer Time!

monicaMonica M. Suter

Moving Forward—Summer Time !

As summer unfolds, I thank our members for the honor to serve as your President.   The highlights have been interacting with members throughout the Western District,      recognizing 16 volunteers through Presidential Proclamations, presenting awards at the annual meeting, and sharing tools on how we can enhance our communication and public relations/sales skills to obtain support for engineering recommendations and projects, an area about which I am passionate.

During the final two months of my term, I will meet with three more Sections, swear-in new officers and participate in our annual meeting hosted by the Colorado-Wyoming Section.  This includes giving four additional Presidential Proclamations and sharing my “Engineering Recommendations:  Getting to ‘Yes’ With the Public and Elected Officials” and my “Do Speed Limits Really Matter and If So, How Do We Sell Them?” presentations with the Central California Section and at our Annual Meeting, respectively.

I was honored to present Presidential Proclamations to Edward (Ed) L. Cline, Robert (Bob) Crommelin, Mike Bitner, and Nate Larson for the Southern California, Riverside-San Bernardino (RSBITE), Central California, and Colorado-Wyoming Sections, respectively.   Ed and Bob are two of my mentors and both of these fine gentlemen are also District 6 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, the highest honor given by our District.  Bob is also an ITE International Honorary Member and has been the most generous individual donor to the District’s Student Endowment Fund!

Mike Bitner continues to be the “jack of all trades,” dedicated volunteer for the Central California Section.   It is also my privilege to thank Nate Larson, our Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) Co-Chair for Denver’s Annual Meeting.   We appreciate him, LAC Co-Chair Will Johnson, and Denver’s talented LAC team of volunteers for hosting an excellent Annual Meeting this year.  (See the LAC volunteer list in this issue.)  Nate is also the District’s Advertising Chair and prior Technical Editor.  His common sense and very wise, dry sense of humor make Nate a joy to work with!

I appreciate Managing Editor Rachel Donovan’s several enhancements to WesternITE.   As Rachel focuses on her graduate work this year, Interim Managing Editor Zaki Mustafa and his son, Nathan, have moved the newsletter another step forward to provide both a web version along with the traditional .pdf newsletter.  Earlier work by Rachel and Webmaster France Campbell was also instrumental in laying the foundation to provide this additional service for our members—we thank all four of you!!

Some members read newsletters on-line and want hyperlinks at their finger tips while others prefer the hard-copy style mailed (or previously printed .pdf versions) of the newsletter which can be read without having to “plug in” when reading it.    We hope to meet all of our member’s preferences.

I also thank my employer, the City of Santa Ana, my chain of command, my staff and colleagues for their support and flexibility to help facilitate my ability to interact with members throughout our large region this year.

In June 2009, we had our second Communications Presentation seminar at the City with Craig Oscarson.  This was similar to the training he provided at the San Diego’s 2007 ITE Spring Technical Conference.   These skills are invaluable for engineers in addition to “on-the-job” experience gained on how to better get to “yes” with engineering recommendations.  A June 2, 2009 USA Today “Snapshot” poll, asked: “do you think city agencies in your town do a good job with the public’s money?” The answers were: 16%-definitely, 45%-probably, 21%-probably not, 15% definitely not, and 3%-don’t know.  This demonstrates a need for more proactive communication of our profession’s value in sharing how our work can positively impact safety and dispel misperceptions about our profession.

For an engineer to be fully successful, we need to better “sell” the value of our work, project, service & recommendations.  We have the knowledge and ethical responsibility to be promoters of our value and to create new advocates who are also believers.  Who else can do this but us?  Police and fire departments serve an important service and regularly “brand” their profession as “safety” and are strongly valued by the public and elected officials.  They have on-going promotional efforts.  Teachers regularly advertise their value which helps generate public support.  Since our work directly impacts safety we should “re-brand” our professional image and educate and sell our safety principals.

I’ve shared communications tools this year.  However, there is much more to be done.  I challenge each of us to further our “softer” skills and reach out to the public and elected officials every possible opportunity.  We can also learn from those with different backgrounds by building bridges across the profession aisle and sharing our unique strengths.  For example, engineers can learn from transportation planners and vice versa.  Together, we can better serve our profession through mutual, win-win teamwork.

There are many ways members can become further engaged in ITE:  through list-serves, committees, reviewing documents, presenting papers (while enhancing presentation skills), participating in International Councils and committees, and becoming a chair or officer at the district or section/chapter level.   From this, your professional network will be expanded in addition to your knowledge.   Some members have still not chosen a free Council membership.  If you aren’t sure which one to join, check the website information on Councils at and try one until you find your fit.  Some districts and sections have similar Council “extensions” that mirror the International Council work at the grass-roots level.  By increasing your ITE involvement, you will receive greater value from your membership.

I thank our dedicated team of District 6 Chairs, Vice Chairs, Officers, Board members, LAC volunteers, and the enthusiastic section, chapter and student leadership.   All of this will serve us well into the future.  Although we’ve had tremendous economic “humps” this year, the longer-term future remains bright!   I thank the membership for the opportunity to serve and am proud of all our volunteers and the participants in this year’s festive and informative Annual Meeting July 12-15, 2009 who made our meeting great by “taking the high road” to Denver, Colorado.

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