Autumn Travel

October 28, 8:36 pm

It is October 28, and I am at the airport in Fort Wayne, Indiana, having just finished up the UTC Region 4 meeting. Besides being the last day of my “UTC fall conference tour” (10 meetings in eight weeks), it is also my youngest daughter’s birthday and my husband’s birthday.  My youngest turns five, and my husband 46. You can imagine what I have in store over the weekend, especially leading up to Halloween on Monday! I love this day for obvious reasons, but also because it kicks off the holiday season. It is pure coincidence that the UTC fall meetings end on this special day.

In looking back over the few weeks since last I wrote, a lot has happened. I have attended Region 8’s Technical Conference in Denver, a UTC Foundation strategic planning meeting in Minneapolis (hosted by Great River Energy), Region 10’s Technical Conference in San Diego, and now Region 4’s annual meeting in Fort Wayne. I promised in the last blog to talk a bit about Region 3’s meeting that occurred earlier this month and to‎ discuss a bit about how UTC is involved during a disaster, so I am going to spend a bit of time on that and on the UTC Foundation meeting before circling back to Regions 8, 10, and 4 in my next blog.

Before I do that, I want to let you know that the UTC Board meeting is coming up on November 8 in D.C. It coincides with another important day for our country (hint: the news media has been obsessively reporting about it for the last five million days — okay, it just feels like that long). For folks coming in for the meeting, don’t forget to vote absentee. It reminds me that folks in D.C. might have to do so as well because our meeting is jam-packed. We will also have UTC Committee meetings and, on Wednesday, we’ll tackle forward planning, which is a version of strategic planning. We’ll round out the week with UTC’s Critical Infrastructure Communications Policy Summit that will focus on telecommunications and technology priorities for the new Administration and Congress.   During the forward planning meeting we’ll review UTC’s current strategic plan and consider a draft strategic membership plan, which highlights one of the six major initiatives under the strategic plan, and the one that is, in my view, the most important. Once we get the Board’s input on the draft membership plan, we’ll finalize it and roll it out in 2017 — so, much more to come on that. The other important thing we’ll do in the forward planning meeting is to hear from members of UTC from several regions who represent gender and racial diversity. We would like to know how we can encourage a more diverse group — this is an issue particularly near and dear to the heart of Kathy Nelson of Great River Energy, who will become chair of UTC in May. I will report more in the coming weeks about the outcome of the Board meeting and the implementation of the strategic membership plan. The bottom line ihotel_roanokes that this will be an important week for UTC.

Turning back to Region 3, ‎the meeting itself was held in a gorgeous hotel in
Roanoke, Virginia, and the town itself was a pleasant surprise in terms of its food and downtown and overall feel. Check it out if you can.

Cheryl Stratos, who manages UTC’s sponsor and advertising sales, and I drove together down from the D.C.-area and I had a chance to catch up with Cheryl who is an excellent resource for UTC and our members. Once in Roanoke, we met up with many of the Region 3 members and sponsors as well as Matt Schnell, UTC’s Board Chair. While a lively event with good content, the threat of Hurricane Matthew hung over us all as we missed some of the UTC Region 3 mainstays who had to prepare for the storm and possible restoration efforts. Also, during the event, UTC’s Brett Kilbourne and Bob Lockhart were hearing from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), other industry trade associations, the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), among others, about the coming storm and helped in communication with our members. There are several mutual aid entities and numerous arrangements related to such mutual aid, so we wanted to add value to the overall efforts rather than confusing the issue. Our relationships exist with many of the communications folks at DHS, so we thought it worthwhile to transmit a note alerting our members to some of the avenues available to them to interact with DHS and get help from that agency if needed. If you have feedback for us on our communication, please let me know or contact Brett (brett.kilbourne@utc.org) or Bob (bob.lockhart@utc.org). We are also hoping to coordinate more fully with our fellow trade associations and the Department of Energy (DOE) via the ESCC. I have been invited to participate in that group’s CEO-level pre-meeting when they next convene on November 29, which is one way to help that heightened level of coordination. The Region 3 meeting went very well overall despite the hurricane and I look forward to its next meeting in the spring. In the meantime, I want to again convey our support for folks in North Carolina who are still digging out from the hurricane and who may have a long road ahead of them.

I wanted to also mention briefly the meeting of the UTC Foundation Board of Directors in Minneapolis. Kathy Nelson chairs UTCF, and the purpose of this meeting was to do some strategic planning with the newly formed Board now that the Foundation has been approved as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. We will unveil the new mission and vision of the group closer to when it is launched during UTC’s annual conference in Charlotte in May (8-12), but the fact that we have a mission and vision so quickly as well as the outline of a committee structure and fundraising plan is a testament to Kathy’s leadership, the excellent facilitator lent to us by GRE, and the “can do” attitude of the UTCF Board. The bottom line is that we will do a lot of good things with this group and I look forward to sharing more soon.

Until we meet again!