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As I write this, I am getting ready for UTC’s first step into in-person meetings since Spring 2020. This will be the first time as President and CEO that I will be meeting many of you and I couldn’t be more excited.

Still, I assume a number of us are a bit tentative about travel right now, and although I’m excited, I can certainly understand and empathize with those of you who may not be ready to take this step yet. This is why our Meetings Department wanted to hold a virtual component to this meeting as well, so many of our members who hoped to join us in Reno but can not due to ongoing travel restrictions, or safety and/or budget concerns still participate. It’s not the same as being there in person, but my goal is for everyone at UTC to feel welcomed to attend any event, in person or virtually.

And speaking of joining us, I am excited to note that the UTC Executive Committee just approved our decision to move our annual Telecom & Technology Conference from June to Aug. 23-27. We know that many of our core utility members are unable to travel for work until July, so we have decided to push back T&T to ensure that you can be with us for our big annual event, this year in Portland, Oregon.

We are still working on the agenda for this year’s T&T, but I know for so many of us, just being able to see each other again after all we’ve been through as a country and, indeed, as a world is a cause for celebration. So I hope we will have a tremendous showing in August—stay tuned for more as the program takes shape!

With in-person meetings finally taking shape, my mind goes straight to one of UTC’s core goals: collaboration. Collaboration between and among utilities (between and among ALL utilities), a collaboration between and among utilities and their vendor partners, and collaboration between and among utilities and our federal public servants. We also need to collaborate with our sister associations to work together to raise awareness and advocate for the industry.   I certainly don’t need to tell UTC members how critical collaboration is to the reliable and safe delivery of electric, water, and natural gas services.

But the importance of collaboration grows as we finally begin to emerge from the post-COVID environment. Despite our hopes and prayers that everything goes back to normal as quickly as possible, we know such a speedy recovery is not likely. And not only that, but we must ensure that our economic recovery is also an equitable one, so all Americans have an opportunity to succeed.

In my mind this is where our work on broadband is paramount; every American must have access to affordable, reliable internet service. I am so grateful and proud to speak about how our utility industry is already focusing on broadband as a national priority. In interviews, speeches, and meetings with stakeholder groups, I always point to the incredible work our members are doing to connect their communities to the internet. It fills me with such pride and enthusiasm knowing what you are already doing, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Now even as COVID begins to recede into the rearview, we know full well in the utility industry that the next big challenge is right around the corner. Our T&T conference will be held at the end of August, which is in the midst of hurricane and storm season. Not to mention the civil unrest that is still engulfing our country; our members must work to keep their infrastructure safe not only from natural disasters but other hazards like cybersecurity and other man-made physical attacks. We know that when COVID is gone, something else will take its place.

So as we begin planning our post-COVID lives and priorities, I urge all UTC members to think of new and innovative ways to collaborate. I’ve charged our growing advocacy team with reaching out to different and non-traditional groups to effectuate change. After all, utilities literally power our lives. By expanding our reach, perhaps we can also win some new allies who can help us in our mission to better serve the utilities that serve each and every one of us.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you soon, in person or virtually!


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