Leading the Way – Looking Back, Looking Forward

By Mr. Michael Sanderson P.E., PTOE, LEED AP posted 12-07-2018 09:20 AM

ITE is changing, and it is thriving. Our membership continues to grow. We had another highly successful Joint Annual Meeting and Exhibit this year with excellent attendance and a diverse and exciting program of events. Our technical initiatives are relevant and engaging to a larger and expanding community of transportation professionals. And ITE’s influence in the industry continues to grow as we have engaged and partnered with other transportation organizations and industry partners more than ever before, both in North America and around the globe.

Our recent successes were not, however, inevitable. Just a few years ago, ITE’s future was far from certain. Our membership was in decline, and our finances were not sound. Change was needed if we were to survive as a viable organization. And, as so often happens, leaders appeared—the right leaders at the right time. Hibbett Neel and John Kennedy. Paula Flores. Shawn Leight. From the hiring of our executive director, Jeff Paniati, to the adoption of a forward-looking strategic plan and an overall shift in our organization’s attitude, each of my predecessors in their own ways and with their own strengths initiated needed change. When I began my term as ITE International President in January of this year, the foundation was in place for the transformation that is now underway. For that, I offer my most heartfelt thanks to these leaders for their foresight and commitment to ITE’s long-term success, and for their personal support and encouragement. ITE owes you its gratitude. 

Likewise, I have had the opportunity to serve alongside a group of incomparably committed leaders on the International Board of Direction (IBOD). My IBOD colleagues embraced our bold vision for the future, and together we rolled up our sleeves and did the work, the hard and often thankless work of making organizational change. In the end, ITE will be better for it, and this group of leaders deserves our thanks. They certainly have mine. I’ve served on a lot of boards over the last 25 years, in ITE and elsewhere, and never have I had the opportunity to serve with a group as special as this one. It has been my greatest privilege to serve them.

Over the last several years, I have traveled throughout ITE’s Districts, Sections, and Chapters and been witness to many innovative things that our members are doing for our profession and for their communities. Our leaders at the local level are committed and passionate ambassadors for ITE and for a better transportation future for their communities. After each of my many trips, I returned home energized by the things I learned and the people I met. I was particularly inspired by the students. It is because of their passion and their vision, unrestrained by the way it’s always been done, that I am confident our future is in good hands.

ITE is on a good path. However, just as our recent successes weren’t inevitable, likewise our ongoing success and sustainability also isn’t a given. We must continue to do the hard work to implement our long-term vision building a sustainable organization and tackling the big challenges of a transportation future that is multimodal, connected, autonomous, electrified, and who knows what else. This will require strong leadership over the next several years, and we are in very good hands. Incoming President Bruce Belmore is a thoughtful and visionary leader. He has a firm hand on the rudder, and I am confident that he will keep us on a course of positive change and success. Vice President- Elect Randy McCourt is equally capable and committed. And I will be there to support them in any way I can as your Immediate Past President in 2019.

Lastly, thanks to my wife, Sara, and my kids, Quinn and North, for their support and encouragement. And to the Sanderson Stewart team, thanks for holding down the fort. You are truly the best in the business. Serving ITE has been my most extraordinary honor. Thank you all for the opportunity. Keep up the good work.