Over the past couple of months, I have watched—remotely, of course, via Zoom and other meeting applications—how TEI members have largely gone about their Institute business, despite the disruptions and dislocations caused by COVID-19. And I am truly amazed and gratified by their spirit and commitment—in short, by their resilience and resolve.
Building a totally virtual conference required that members, speakers, and moderators come together to design sessions specifically for the virtual medium. For most, participating in a webinar was a familiar, albeit largely infrequent, way to connect distant colleagues across time zones, usually on an emergency or last-minute basis. Now, with COVID-19, the virtual platform is the main stage for the near term. As I watched others prepare, and as I too prepared for the conference sessions I would moderate, I felt a sense of commitment to our attendees and, more fundamentally, to the mission of TEI. From the beginning back in 1944, education has always been central to TEI’s mission. Yet that mission has never specified how we are to fulfill it. That is for us to decide. And, given the circumstances of the moment, our choices were limited. So what did our members do? They rolled up their sleeves and endeavored to design a TEI-quality event. My sincere thanks to everyone associated with our 75th Annual Conference for their willingness to work diligently and figure things out. And a special thanks in particular to the members of my Executive Committee, work stream leads, and moderators, who all took up the laboring oars on this project.
At the same time, that sense of resilience and resolve has animated the work being done on our strategic plan. Every work stream is actively engaged in meeting, thinking, and brainstorming, to develop ideas and action plans to enhance the quality of the TEI member experience, improve the connectivity among segments within the organization, and plan for our future. These efforts reflect the collective input of a broad swath of our members. And they’ve been engaged for only three months. I offer this testament and thank you, because I want to encourage them to continue these important efforts and to challenge others to take up responsibilities here, too.
In addition, our chapters and regions have similarly demonstrated that unstinting commitment to our membership by fashioning education and networking activities to keep everyone informed, connected, and up to date. Cross-chapter and cross-regional activities have been held or are on the drawing board, leveraging talent, time, and resources. And perhaps as important, these activities have drawn members closer together from different parts of the country. To these TEI trailblazers, I applaud you.
COVID-19 has certainly altered how we execute on TEI’s mission, how we plan for the future, and how we ensure our success. But COVID-19 will not shrink TEI’s resolve or resilience to serve the members of the in-house tax community, now and into the future.
Best wishes to you and your families for a joyous holiday season.
TEI International President