Letter From the President

President Ken Johnston’s Midyear Report to GBA Members

It is a privilege to be able to share with you some of my thoughts at the halfway point of our GBA fiscal year and of my Presidency during the 2020 Fall Conference.

2020 was a year I was looking forward to at the start. In the same year I was honored to serve as GBA President and as the Chairman of the Board of Fellows at my Alma mater, Norwich University. Both have great meetings in outstanding destinations but in 2020 the world has become one virtual meeting after another. To add insult to injury, I recently had prostrate cancer surgery while dealing with atrial fibrillations (AFib). For many reasons, personally and professionally, 2020 will be a very memorable year.

The good news is that tough times don’t last, but tough people do and tough organizations like GBA find a way through crisis for our members. Despite all the challenges of 2020, we have not slowed down and GBA is still getting valuable stuff done and providing great value for our members. Here are some of our accomplishments in the first 6-months of the fiscal year.

Our Association was one of the first to share up-to-the-minute COVID updates on our website. We also quickly delivered five high-impact COVID related Town Hall Meetings attended by over 250 leaders from GBA firms.

When we decided we could not safely convene for the 2020 Spring Conference, we improvised with virtual Committee meetings and keynote presentations. This event drew over 1,200 participants from all levels from within our firms and reminded me in a very small way, the way we pulled together and got involved after 9-11. In tough times, we band together to help each other.

Under normal circumstances, the GBA Board would have met in June 2020 to hold a summer board meeting and prepare the next 3-year strategic plan for our Association. In light of the global pandemic, our Board decided to delay the 3-year update by one year to attack the immediate impacts of COVID for our members by preparing a one-year update to the existing plan as a bridge strategy. The following are some of the key points from the bridge plan:

Purpose: To be the preferred source of business-educational resources, specifically risk management and business performance optimization, for geoprofessional firms.

Strategy: Create value through unique member experiences that are not available elsewhere.

We will continue working on the 3 Strategic Objectives with a keen focus on COVID for your businesses. They are:
• Strengthen GBA’s Brand
• Turbocharge the Member Experience
• Celebrate Successes

Other areas where great progress has been made:

All 101 of the originally published ASFE case histories have been refreshed with updated branding, new graphics, recalibrated financial metrics, and updated lessons learned. In the past year alone 3,000 Case Studies have been downloaded and they continue to be one of the most referenced materials produced by the GBA.

In partnership with Terra Insurance Company, GBA updated the Contract Reference Guide first produced in 1976. This is one book that should certainly be in every geoprofessionals library. I am proud to say that GBA’s updated Contract Reference Guide , 4th Edition is now available in electronic and hard copy, free of charge, to every GBA member.

Our emerging leaders group had a strong opinion on the value & importance of podcasts, and we listened to them. This group of young leaders has produced 16 podcasts that have now been uploaded nearly 1,400 times. If you have not heard any of these podcasts yet, please check them out. They are entertaining and full of valuable information.

Our Executive Director, Joel Carson recently delivered a presentation titled “The State of the Geoprofessional Industry” to identify important tends that will impact our businesses in 2021 and beyond. Joel’s presentation, available to all members was extremely well done and well received by the listeners for the value it provided as we all plan for the future.

The GBA Board of Directors and staff emphasized our collaboration with other professional associations like ours to be critical to achieving our goals. I am pleased to report that we have 11 Cooperating Organizations that are supporting the Fall Conference and are joining us this week. This emphasizes we are all working together during these challenging times and together we will elevate our profession and get through these times united.

Lastly, I want to speak about the topic of diversity & inclusion and the importance it has within all our firms and GBA today. I am proud to say that the GBA has instituted a new Diversity & Inclusion Committee that is being led by Past GBA President, Laura Register (Terracon) and former GBA Board Member, Kim Morrison (Newmont Mining). This group has surveyed members, researched census information, compiled data, and prepared a powerful and timely article on this subject being published in the November/December issue of the GeoStrata Magazine titled “The Pipeline to Diversity and Inclusion in the Geoprofessions – Challenging the Profession to Increase Innovation, Profitability, and Future Sustainability”.  Additionally, the 2020 Fall Conference included several presentations tailored to help us all to better understand the importance of diversity & inclusion and how it impacts all our lives and businesses every day.

2020 has been a challenge for each of us personally, professionally and for all our firms. Meeting for the 2020 Fall Conference virtually is not what we wanted but thank you for making the best of it. The leadership of your Association has worked very hard and extremely long hours to put this conference together for all of you. In many ways, this virtual format is much harder to produce and certainly much less fun. Together we will recover the challenges of 2020 and be prepared for the future.