President’s Message: State of the District Address

By Mark Spencer, District President

It’s been my privilege to serve as our District President this past year.

This past year we were able to accomplish quite a lot.  I have been particularly focused on engagement with our members as a cornerstone of my Presidency.  Communication takes many forms.  In addition to the personal updates I was privileged to deliver this year during my Section and Chapter visits, monthly E-newsletters were sent to all Western District members between August and June.  This year our E-newsletters featured spotlight articles of our Sections and Chapters.  Two printed editions of WesternITE were mailed in November and April.  We also posted all of these on the District’s website and Facebook pages, and we tweeted to our followers.  We didn’t want to leave anybody out.

We have selected locations for future Annual Meetings.  In 2021, we will host a joint Annual Meeting with ITE International in Portland.   In 2022, we have selected Palm Springs, California as the host of our Annual Meeting, and in 2023 we have selected Boise, Idaho.

I am particularly encouraged by the leadership of ITE International, with ITE International Past President Paula Benway, President Shawn Leight, and our International Vice President Michael Sanderson.  I appreciate that ITE International Executive Director and CEO Jeff Paniati has joined us here in San Diego.

The District continues our support of the LeadershipITE program; this year marks the fourth LeadershipITE class, and the Western District is represented by two of our members.  With 13 prior graduates from our District, this brings the total number of Western District participants in LeadershipITE to 15.

One of the things I am most excited about, is that I get to stand here and announce, that this past year, the District’s Student Endowment Fund reached its initial goal of $500,000!  Let me say that again, we have raised a half million dollars for our Student Endowment Fund!  I want to thank all of Endowment Fund Chairs, Pat Gibson, Cathy Leong, and now Kimberly Leung; they deserve all the credit for getting this done. Other Districts have been in touch with us to set up a similar model, an example of the Western District leading the way.

Now that we have reached and sustained the $500,000 goal for the Student Endowment Fund, we have moved forward with the next phase of the program.  In January, the Western District Board voted to expand its Student Initiatives Program. The newest initiative is annual regional travel scholarships for students to attend the Annual Meeting, starting here in San Diego.  Financial support is now available for one student from each of the District’s four regions.

In addition, starting this fall, more funding will be included in the Student Data Collection Fund to support a sixth data collection project. Now that we have reached our first level Student Endowment Fund goal, the Board has approved funding to support the first three years of these new initiatives.  And we will continue to raise funds for the Student Endowment Fund to further expand our student initiatives.  Thus, I encourage each and every one of you to donate to this outstanding program.  And for those that have donated in the past, thank you for making this possible.

In addition to our Annual Meeting, the District now has another signature event that touches all Sections and Chapters.  The fourth Student Leadership Summit (SLS) was held at Cal State Fullerton this past January.  For those that have attended a SLS, you will quickly realize what a powerful and fulfilling event this is.  Put on by students, for students, the SLS brings together a hundred or more students for a weekend of career guidance, professional seminars, networking, and team building.  Other ITE Districts have now taken to putting on their own SLS.  Once again, the Western District leads the way!  Next year the SLS will be held in January at Oregon State in Corvallis.

Our finances are stable, and we are fortunate to have sponsors that support our initiatives throughout the year. The District is in good hands because all our volunteers – from the local Chapters and Sections to the Committee Chairs, Board Members and International Directors – all share a vision of making our communities better places, through meaningful careers in transportation, and through ITE.  I’m just the lucky guy that gets to deliver the message to all of you.

As always, I will close with a quote from the recently-retired philosopher from Los Angeles.

Together We Are The Best!