24 Oct MESSAGE FROM THE DISTRICT CHAIR – FALL 2019
My final report as Northeastern District Chair is bitter-sweet. On the sweet side, serving as District Chair has been a challenging but satisfying experience. The Executive Committee was a fantastic group to work with, and I look forward to serving with them next year as Past Chair. I need to give a special thanks to Mike Salatti, who was relentless in his service as International Director. Mike pushed us hard to be the first District to complete the new Bylaws, and he was always ready to help with special assignments when needed. It was also a year that saw a spectacular success with our Annual Meeting in New Haven, where we had over 300 attendees. Joe Balskus and Joe Hallisey worked tirelessly to provide a special experience not only for the Northeastern District members, but also for the International Board and the LeadershipITE class of 2019 – Thanks Joe(s)!
I had the good fortune to attend the International Meeting in Austin, TX, and it served to reinforce my belief that ITE has a special role to play in the new world of transportation. From my Uber ride to the hotel, where the driver said “Austin is the perfect place for a transportation conference, since our transportation is so messed up”, to my work on the Transportation and Health Working Group, to my first ever electric scooter ride, to seeing all my friends and colleagues, I knew I was in a place where transportation truly is recognized for its role in shaping our communities and quality of life.
Unfortunately, it was at the conference where we got word that Einah Pelaez lost her battle with cancer. I was absolutely devastated, as I had gotten to know Einah as a fellow LeadershipITE alumni. Einah represented the best of our profession and she will be truly missed by all who knew her.
In my first message this year I mentioned three major tasks of the Board. The first task was the Annual Meeting, and as mentioned above, it was a great success, and moved the bar higher for future conferences. I’m already looking forward to the 2020 Annual Meeting on Long Island, as the Met Section always finds new ways to educate and entertain the attendees.
The second task was the election for International Director. This year was the Upstate Section’s turn to nominate candidates for International Director. Mike Wieszchowski was the only candidate from Upstate, and in accordance with the Bylaws, Gordon Meth from the Met Section petitioned to be on the ballot. In the first contest between candidates from different Sections, Gordon prevailed and will serve as International Director for a three-year term beginning in January 2020. The new Bylaws do not allow petition candidates, and there will be more discussion in coming months on the process for nominating our International Director…stay tuned!
Finally, the District approved new Bylaws this year. These new Bylaws, similar to the previous Bylaws but now in line with all ITE Districts, will be posted on the website. The main change is that operational activities of the District will now be documented in an “Operations Manual” rather than in the Bylaws. The Executive Committee is working on this Manual now and expects to have an initial draft ready to go by the end of the year to guide our work in 2020.
The new District website should be up and running soon, to help promote the 2020 Annual Meeting and 2020 Awards nominations. I want to close by thanking Ian McKinnon for his great work with our student chapters and running the Student Traffic Bowl. The District will soon have 15 student chapters, and I’m looking forward to the day when all of them are displaying posters at the Annual Meeting and participating in the Traffic Bowl. These students are the future of our organization, and we need to inspire and encourage them to continue their involvement with ITE.
It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve the Northeastern District. Best wishes for the holidays and I look forward to more great things from ITE in 2020.
Jeffrey Lebsack, PE, AICP, ENV SP