Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as President of AWRA for 2017. I’m very proud to be part of this great organization and all that we’ve accomplished in recent years. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on AWRA’s Board, as a Director in 2010 and during the period of 2013-2015, and as President-Elect in 2016.
During this time, I have seen the organization increase its efforts to remain relevant through a commitment to provide increased value to our members. This unwavering vow is evidenced in the strategic planning efforts undertaken since 2010, which resulted in revamped technical committees, increased thought leadership, development of water resources policy statements, implementation of new webinars on comprehensive technical matters impacting our water resources, improved relationships with our state sections, and a new membership structure that will solidify this added value to our members. Exciting times lie ahead for AWRA, and I am thrilled to be a part of them as your President for 2017.
As we move forward, I look ahead to the specific activities that AWRA will undertake to continue to increase the value we provide to our members.
The progress we have made to date involves, as a foundation, a well-established water resources publication in JAWRA, successful water resources conferences which provide our members and attendees with the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of water resources topics, and the fact that we are an organization that focuses on Community, Conversation and Connections. That means that we provide the water resources community with the opportunity to engage in conversation and develop everlasting relationships in support of comprehensive water resources management.
In JAWRA, we will focus on maximizing the value the Journal provides our members through its increased focus on science and quality of research topics. Our water resources conferences will be evaluated to ensure AWRA remains your place to interact with the water resources community. For these events, we will confirm that we are providing attendees with the highest opportunity for networking and exposure to industry-leading regional and national- level topics. We will continue to develop opportunities for you to lead the industry through participation in technical committees, IMPACT, webinars and our conferences. For the coming year, I envision our Board focusing on strengthening these foundational areas while further enhancing other specific initiatives we have in place.
AWRA is about our members and how you can leverage the organization for professional development and growth. AWRA is not the voice of the water resources Industry; it’s the means for you to have a voice and lead the Industry.
The January issue of IMPACT focuses on Careers in Water Resources. As we all know, the field of water resources is quite comprehensive and involves many disciplines that, in one way or another, help shape or support the management of water, our most precious resource. The multi-disciplinary nature of water resources provides us with the opportunity to be part of a diverse industry where we can develop professionally and lead.
These development and leadership opportunities do not materialize on their own. They are created by other industry professionals who unselfishly find a way to facilitate our professional growth. These friends of the industry are mentors. Mentors are those professionals who provide us with a positive, guiding influence that impacts our growth and career development. The multi-disciplinary nature of the water resources industry provides you with the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of mentors to support your professional development and for you to become a mentor, allowing you to shape the future of others as well.
In my professional career, I have enjoyed the benefit of knowing different professionals and friends that have taken the time to invest in my development and provide me with support. They are mentors who have introduced me to AWRA and supported my increased involvement in the organization, thus enhancing my overall career growth. These mentors where never asked to help me; they simply felt my desire for professional growth could be achieved by exposing me to positive development experiences.
Collectively, we need to work toward being a mentor for others, so we can experience the compounded benefits that result from professional development. This in turn will provide the water resources community with well-prepared professionals ready to manage future challenges that will face our industry.
Thank you for the opportunity to lead this great organization. I look forward to networking with you at our upcoming events. In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter (@AWRAHQ and @RafaFriasIII) to stay abreast of our efforts.
Rafael E. Frias, III can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org