Signing off for 2020

President's Message | December 2020

Well, the holiday season is winding down and so too, thankfully, is a record-breaking year—2020.

For so many, this year has been one of heartbreak and misfortune. We at AWRA are keenly aware of sacrifices made by our water resources colleagues, essential workers, family members, and others throughout the country. We are counting our blessings that so many of our members stuck with us this year, attended our virtual conferences, and engaged with colleagues through our webinars, publications, and technical committees. It was a year of many challenges, and thanks to our members and others who joined us throughout the year, we enter 2021 with high hopes for continuing to build “community, conversation, and connections” with water professionals nationwide.

2020 in the Rearview Mirror
We started 2020 on a high note with the January edition Water Resources IMPACT magazine on "Water Infrastructure Resilience" and greatly anticipating our 2020 Virtual Geospatial Water Technology Conference and co-located Maidment Symposium to be held in Austin, TX in late March. Although we kicked off March with another issue of IMPACT—"Geospatial Water Technology"—we quickly realized mid-publication we had to postpone the March conference due to the escalating emergence of COVID-19. Thanks to an excellent planning committee led by Lilit Yeghiazarian (conference general chair), Venkatesh Merwade (technical program chair), David Blodgett and Steve Kopp (technology committee co-chairs), and Stephen Bourne (finance chair), the committee went into high-gear and turned the content-rich in-person program for Austin into a very successful virtual conference in August.

Not far behind was the energetic Annual Conference Planning Committee co-chaired by Don Duke and Roger Copp, assisted by the technical committee co-chairs Michael Campana and Teresa Thornton, and finance chairs Walt Reigner and Sam Palermo. These folks and the rest of the Florida planning team and AWRA staff pulled out all stops to take the nearly 250 abstracts received and arrange them in a jam-packed, successful three-day virtual conference in early November. Several AWRA member-led technical committees also played a key role by organizing special panel sessions, along with several technical sessions. I can’t thank these volunteers enough for their enthusiasm and dedication.

In addition to the conferences, AWRA held multiple webinars—fourteen in all—on a variety of topics, as well as two special workshops on diversity, equity and inclusion. AWRA members took great advantage of the webinar member benefit (webinars are free to members), as did others, for a total of more than 2,300 registrations. We also managed to put out five bi-monthly editions of IMPACT and a special COVID-19 double-issue for May/July. We received multiple thank-you comments for this helpful edition, as well as for the timely Fire and Water issue in September. Thanks to AWRA Past-President Lisa Beutler, technical editor Michael Campana, and all our guest editors for all their work on IMPACT. I hope you’ll all take the time to browse the IMPACT archives if you missed any of these editions. The same goes for the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA), our renowned technical journal headed by Editor-in-Chief, Venki Uddameri. With an Impact Factor of 2.472, JAWRA continues to lead the way in water resources publishing. Even in this demanding year for authors, editors, and associate editors alike.

2021 on the Horizon
We have much in store for 2021, so I hope you’ll renew your membership and join us or join us for the first time if you’ve never done so. We have several great events planned, including a Joint AWRA & National Capital Region Annual Water Symposium April 15-16 (virtual) and the AWRA 2021 Connecting Land and Water for Healthy Communities Specialty Conference, July 19-21 (virtual), as well as multiple webinars and workshops.

Signing Off
As I prepare to hand over the gavel January 1 to our fearless leader—2021 President Scott Kudlas— I want to give a final shout-out and special thank you again to AWRA staff: Dresden Farrand, CEO; Bridget Marquis, Membership Services Manager; Megan Balkovic, Website and Marketing Consultant; and Michael Campana, Technical Director and Technical Editor of IMPACT magazine, for all of their very hard work and long hours spent this year. I also want to thank Venki for his outstanding work on JAWRA under extraordinary circumstances. Each dug-in and handled their respective professional duties while also enduring new and expanding commitments elsewhere in their professional and personal lives. From becoming a de facto pre-school and elementary teacher with children home for much of the Pandemic, to taking all undergraduate and graduate duties online in a blink of an eye, these folks gave it their all.

Suffice it to say too, that I couldn’t be prouder of all the volunteers who make what we do at AWRA possible. From the Board of Directors to workshop and task force leaders, and everything in between, you know who you are. You have given so much of your time and energy to this organization and it has not gone unnoticed. Thank you one and all. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021.

We always appreciate hearing from you. Please feel free to correspond with me directly at [email protected]. Be safe and stay well.

Betsy A. Cody is the 2020 president of AWRA.


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