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A President's Message from SEAOC President Rafael Sabelli

Wednesday, August 26, 2020  

By Rafael Sabelli, SE, SEAOC President 2020

It’s the end of the summer, and in previous years many of us would be thinking about traveling to the annual SEAOC Convention. This year, as you know, we will not be meeting in person; instead, we have our virtual convention planned for the first week of December. The change to the virtual format means some of our convention activities will be different, and our traditions may have to be honored differently this year.  

One tradition “more honour’d in the breach than the observance” is the long speech by the outgoing president. (Please, past presidents, do not take offense; that speech is a difficult proposition, usually exacerbated by placing the audience in the mid-day sun.) I will not be giving such a speech at the convention. There will be some SEAOC business (including the handing—or emailing—of the gavel), but I will use the President's Messages to report the events that would normally be the stuff of that speech.

I have already introduced one of the major events of the year: the change from an in-person convention to a virtual one. Dick Dreyer, chair of the convention committee, has done an excellent job in a fast-changing set of circumstances, especially considering that the “conventional” reward for that effort is the trip to the convention itself, and the relaxing couple of days in the sun afterwards. Dick has bravely faced the new challenges, including negotiating our exit from the hotel contract, mobilizing the convention committee around a (mostly) new set of operational challenges, and keeping the stakeholders (the SEAOC membership, technical presenters, exhibitors, and the board) engaged and informed as the plan progresses. Bill Tremayne, our technical chair, has organized an outstanding set of papers, and we hope our available airtime is sufficient. Lori Jue, “producer of program,” has brought to the committee the knowledge gained by the SEAONC Continuing Education Committee regarding online events, for which we are deeply appreciative.

Dan Bech has worked with exhibitors and sponsors so that we can preserve these important aspects of our convention. Joyce Feng, our convention treasurer, and Holly Razzano, in charge of registration, have been busy adapting our budget to a new set of costs and attendance/registration format. Wayne Low, chair emeritus, has been an important resource and contributor throughout the process.

Dave Martin, social and hospitality now inventing virtual fun for us, and Jenny Van Truong, is making sure the YMF continues its tradition of fun and connection. Kevin Moore is shifting from golf and sports to virtual competition. Sandra Jung has been managing publicity as we have developed our plans, and Melissa Vickery, has been refining the website, which will soon be revised to reflect our virtual format. 

The committee has worked hard and has faced unprecedented challenges.  I am grateful, and the SEAOC membership should be as well. Please join me in thanking them.