In selecting the tagline for this issue of ITE Journal, we settled on “A Year of Challenge and Change” to capture the range of emotions and responses that we have been through in 2020. The year started so innocuously in January with the annual gathering for the Transportation Research Board Meeting and all the ITE events that surround it. As February turned to March, it started to become clear that this might not be a normal year. From there— everything was turned on its head, with remote operations, virtual everything, and Zoom-time filling up the calendar.
Many challenges presented themselves—from assuring the well-being of our staff and their families, to how to continue to serve our members remotely, to what to do with our Annual Meeting, to how to best help our District, Section, Chapter (D-S-C) and Student leadership stay connected with their members, and so much more.
I am very proud of how well ITE volunteer leadership and staff have responded to these challenges. They say leadership starts at the top, and ITE International President Randy McCourt, P.E. (F) has led the way. I’m sure he did not imagine that he would spend most of his presidential year stuck behind a monitor peering into a camera, but he has not let this pandemic define his agenda—rather, he has provided strong leadership for our Board and members, and took on a number of key initiatives himself, most notably development of the What a Transportation Professional Needs to Know about Traffic Counts and Studies during a Pandemic white paper, which went from concept to delivery in less than three months.
The ITE staff quickly adapted to our new virtual work environment and reimagined how to deliver products and services. From our COVID-19 Resources Page to our highly successful virtual Annual Meeting to our new Virtual Drop-In Sessions, to expanded professional development offerings at reduced prices, to supporting a virtual Traffic Bowl
and virtual D-S-C meetings, they responded with nimbleness, creativity, and hard work.
What we miss is the opportunity to be together in-person. No amount of Zooming can replace the genuine joy that ITE members get from being with one another. The opportunity to renew friendships and build new relationships, exchange ideas and see and experience transportation innovations, and the chance to help students and young members build their brands and chart their futures are hard to replicate virtually. It is clear that 2021 will be a year of transition toward a new normal as we await development and distribution of vaccines. We won’t be going back to where we were in January 2020, but instead will continue to create a new ITE experience that blends the richness of being together in-person with the ability to use our new virtual tools to connect with and engage more members than ever.
I am excited about the possibilities. Next month, I will focus on some of the new initiatives we have planned for 2021. We intend to leverage the power of our new tools to bring a ONE ITE experience to our members, while planning to gather again, safely and in-person. This will not be a normal holiday season, but I wish you a joyous holiday and hope you can find ways to be connected with family and friends. Stay safe and well, and you can reach me on the ITE e-Community or on Twitter: @JPaniatiITE.