It has been an honor to lead the Institute this past year as TEI’s international president. I am proud of all the work we have accomplished in challenging circumstances. This year can be characterized by two notable developments: immediate, transformative change and a laser focus on the future strategic direction of our organization.
The pandemic impacted TEI, like the rest of the world, in multiple and profound ways. We moved swiftly and effectively to transform how we provide our members with services and value. With an unmitigated and intentional sense of purpose from leadership, staff, and members, TEI rose to the occasion. We hosted five successful virtual Institute-level conferences and educational seminars as well as hundreds of virtual chapter and regional events for our members. We are now poised to shift to our next phase—welcoming our TEI members back to in-person events over the coming months and offering our 2021 Annual Conference as a hybrid event (we’ll be announcing the date and location very soon). This event will be designed to meet the needs of all participants, whether they join us in person or choose to participate virtually.
While transitioning our operations in this fundamental manner, we also spent this year focusing on our vision for the future. Our workstream leads are completing their reports for our long-term strategic plan, Choosing a Path Forward. Over the past twelve months, these leaders have examined how TEI has operated historically, what changes have occurred both internally and externally, and, most important, how TEI should respond to meet the challenges and opportunities for the future. Here are several examples:
- Continuing Education Workstream: This group examined the types of continuing education offered at the chapter, regional, and Institute levels and identified what differentiates TEI’s continuing education from other providers. The recommendations from this workstream will be instrumental as TEI navigates decisions regarding continuing education in a post-pandemic world, including how TEI addresses virtual, hybrid, and on-demand education.
- Advocacy and Government Liaison Workstream: This group identified the types of submissions, liaison activities, and informal advocacy TEI currently conducts throughout the world. The workstream’s observations about the opportunities for further engagement and cross coordination will inform how TEI’s committees and chapters approach and leverage opportunities in the coming years.
- Finance and Operations Workstream: This group assessed how TEI spends its resources and made immediate recommendations that were essential to TEI’s ability to weather the pandemic. This assessment has preserved TEI’s assets and has provided critical guidance regarding how TEI invests its resources for future success.
- Membership Recruitment, Retention, and Networking Workstream: This group evaluated how TEI can enhance professional networking opportunities, grow our membership, engage newcomers, and develop a recruitment strategy targeting key TEI constituencies. These recommendations will deeply enhance the value TEI members receive while expanding the TEI family.
- Chapter Development and Relations Workstream: This group focused on developing stronger relationships between TEI chapters and the Institute. These recommendations, many of which this workstream has already begun to implement, are essential to connect, support, and strengthen the work being done by our members throughout the world.
- Governance and Management Workstream: This group conducted a thorough review of the TEI’s organizational structure and operations. It made key recommendations for how TEI can function more efficiently and played an integral role as we searched for a new executive director.
This comprehensive look at TEI’s past, present, and future, undertaken through the strategic plan effort, makes it clear that TEI is on the cusp of taking a new, energized direction. I would like to thank all the members who participated on the strategic plan for their time, effort, and commitment to this important project. It is because of their efforts that TEI is well positioned to Choose a Path Forward.
As if “going virtual” overnight and substantially revising our operations to assure our continuing viability weren’t enough, we faced another unexpected challenge this year—finding a new executive director to lead the TEI staff.
While the efforts of our Governance and Management workstream had only begun to focus on succession planning, much of the understanding needed for determining what skills and attributes would be necessary for a future executive director to effectively lead prospectively was available in short order due to the efforts of these workstream members. Substantial additional input and analysis from a broad cross-section of leaders and members serving as a task force ensured that our process had a successful outcome. End result? Pilar Mata was appointed by the TEI Board of Directors, effective June 1, as our new executive director.
Those of you who know and have worked with Pilar are no doubt aware of her many talents, her outstanding work ethic, intelligence, creativity, and open-mindedness. Many of you saw these attributes in action over the six months she served as director of operations. I have no doubt that Pilar is the best person to help members and staff meet the challenges and opportunities TEI will face in the years ahead. Please join me in congratulating Pilar.
Finally, I bid you farewell. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve my fellow members. I wish you all the best, good health, and happiness.
TEI International President