What a Difference a Year Makes

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James Kennedy
TEI International President

As I write this column, I can’t help reflecting on what was happening a year ago at this time. We learned that the COVID-19 virus had triggered a pandemic, we were uncertain of when or how we could resume working in an office or how children could attend schools, and we faced unprecedented uncertainty. Now, as more Americans get vaccinated, we are beginning to see signs of hope and can tentatively plan for a future outside of our homes and away from our screens.

At TEI, we continue our efforts to adapt. I want to thank all of our members who have attended our virtual events over the past year, including the recently completed 71st Midyear Conference. Although we had hoped that we could meet in person for the Midyear Conference in Washington, D.C., we were able to virtually bring together a plethora of influential thought leaders on international, Canadian, and US federal, state, and local tax policy and procedure.

With every event, we learn more about the features that are critical to a successful virtual event and incorporate them into our subsequent offerings. TEI’s Tax Technology Seminar brought together a unique mix of livestreamed content, interactive roundtables, and breakout sessions. Similarly, we continue to use these “lessons learned” as we transform our Federal Tax I course and Financial Reporting Seminar into a fully virtual Federal Tax Fundamentals Series and Financial Reporting Series (scheduled for June). We are also re-envisioning our Leadership Foundations Seminar to ensure that our incoming chapter and committee leaders are connected across the world and well-equipped to begin their service to TEI. Each of these events is being carefully planned to take advantage of features and approaches that will keep them engaging, interactive, and meaningful to our members.

While we are committed to delivering the best-possible virtual experience for these events, we are also hopeful that the future will bring a return to in-person meetings. We solicited your input on this very subject. The results of our survey will help us determine how we structure our meetings moving forward this year at the chapter, regional, and Institute levels.

We are also launching TEI’s Corporate Tax Department Survey, which takes an in-depth look at several key components of tax departments’ operations and procedures. I want to thank Louis Mestier and the Corporate Tax Management Committee for their work on this important project, and I thank all of our members who take the time to complete this important study of our profession.

Finally, while we continue to deal with the continuing challenges from the pandemic, we also proceed apace with the significant work that impacts the Institute’s future. For example, we are moving full steam ahead on our long-term strategic plan, Choosing the Path Forward, to address how TEI will address continuing education; advocacy and government liaison opportunities; operations and finance; marketing, communications, and membership; chapter development and relations; and governance and management in the future.

The past year has presented challenges and hardship. But it also has resulted in several game-changing opportunities to innovate. I am confident that TEI is navigating these unprecedented times with reflection, mindfulness, intentionality, and purpose and that these efforts will ensure the Institute’s future over the next 75 years.

Best regards,

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James Kennedy
TEI International President

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