We are presently at a crossroads in ASCE's evolution. And the path we choose from this point forward will factor significantly in how much power ASCE will have to shape the future of our profession, because the outcome of this election will affect our ability to enhance the image and perception of civil engineers in the eyes of the communities in which we work and live, the degree and type of benefits we're able to provide for our members, and the methods by which we ensure that those in the civil engineering profession are qualified to practice.
Our shared vision -- to be an influential, well respected, and highly competent organization -- can only be achieved in the face of the challenges that surround us today by focusing on three core activities:
- Providing a greater number of tangible benefits of higher value to attract, retain, and energize our members so that our membership expands, we attract a higher number of younger members critical to our future existence, and see a higher percentage of our members participate actively;
- Developing an even more focused strategy that directs the majority of our resources to a limited number of highly impactful initiatives that will further our cause; and
- Adopting best operational practices so that our organization can accomplish more with our available resources and serve as a model of efficiency that demonstrates good leadership, including business skills as well as technical competence.
The first of these core activities is essential to our organization's sustainability and strength because we must provide a stronger value proposition to members that is capable of surviving tough and cyclical economic times. Companies increasingly scrutinize the return on their investment in sponsoring employee memberships, and are often forcing employees to choose among various organizations to determine which ones they will join, and which ones they will not. The demographics of our membership highlights the need to attract younger members, because our member population is heavily weighted toward baby boomers, and our number of eligible voters has declined nine percent over the past decade. Additionally, the percentage of eligible persons voting hit a new low of 4.2 percent in 2016, representing a 42 percent decline in comparison with participation a decade ago. These figures are a clear warning sign that as an organization we have not been communicating or connecting well with members. Our members don't think their vote matters, or they simply don't care. We must build and energize our membership, which is the true source of our influence in the world in which we work.
The second core activity, focusing our strategy, is essential because our resources are finite. While it's great to pursue topics that are of personal interest, our organization must be capable of prioritizing those issues that have the greatest impact on our future, and be able to adequately address those issues with our available human and financial resources. If spread too thinly, we are less likely to succeed and the most critical issues will not be fully addressed, or will be addressed too slowly to accomplish our desired outcomes.
The third activity, becoming a well-managed and efficient organization, will enable us to do a better job on the first two activities, and help us to increase the perceived return on investment in membership with our organization. The time of being perceived as competent solely on the basis of technical skills has passed. The world recognizes the need for good business, financial, communication, and interpersonal skills as part of professionalism, so we must exemplify the professional image we wish to portray.
Above all, I encourage you to have an active voice by voting in the upcoming election. Your support for me as your new president will be much appreciated, as we have a lot to accomplish, and I'm ready to represent you enthusiastically as we take a path designed to lead ASCE to a bold new level of achievement.