by David Arnott & Tracy Ekola
Warm winter greetings from your WEF Delegates David Arnott and Tracy Ekola. WEF is busy adapting to the many new routines that are necessary in the current pandemic. This update will cover the current state of WEF, 2021 WEFMAX planning, and an update on the Standing Committees and Workgroups we are on.
WEFTEC Connect took place October 5 through the 9, 2021. WEFTEC was all virtual this year, hence the modified name. Although overall registration was down compared to historical levels, there was still a lot of great content shared at WEFTEC this year. WEFTEC is historically the largest annual revenue source for WEF. Since WEFTEC registration was down, this did have a negative affect on WEF financially. At the December 9, 2020 House of Delegates meeting, WEF leadership explained that WEF is still in a strong position financially. WEF had had to draw off its reserves. The specialty conferences and WEFMAX events were virtual in 2020. Attendance and the resultant revenue was down from the events. However, expenses were down as well. The overall negative financial impact was not as large first feared in early 2020. Nonetheless, WEF has implemented furloughs among select staff to reduce expenses. Leadership has stressed to the Delegates that overall, WEF is still in a strong position for the long term.
WEF did announce at the December House of Delegates meeting that the Specialty Conferences and WEFMAX events for 2021 will be virtual as well. However, WEF is challenging themselves to make their conferences and seminars even more interactive and useful to registering members compared to 2021. For example, at the December meeting, a new virtual meeting platform, Remo, was explored. At the meeting, Delegates were able to move from table to table and chat with others. We also experimented with a white board to document ideas and collaborate all while being connected with video and audio at each table. Each table answered the question “How is your Member Association Handling Virtual Seminars and Conferences?” Four aspects of this general question were explored: content, revenue, marketing, and participation. The results from the meeting will be shared on at a future WEF Delegate report.
WEFMAX conferences are where best practices from Member Associations are shared, networking takes place, and friends are made. The 2021 WEFMAX dates are shown below. Recently, WEF sent out a survey to the Member Associations to gauge interest in various topics for the events. Thank to you members of the Executive Committee that gave feedback to us on what interests them. The most popular topics were Operations Training and Recruiting and Retaining Members. Look for those topics and more at the virtual WEFMAX conferences.
Each WEF Delegate participates in Standing Committees and Workgroups. The Standing Committee are topics areas that need development and progress year after year for WEF to operate. The WEF Standing Committees are as follows: Steering, Budget, Nominating, WEFMAX, and Outreach.
Workgroups can change every year. A fresh look is taken every year on what the appropriate work areas need development. The WEF Speaker Elect determines the Workgroups each year. The majority of our time as delegates is spent at the Workgroup level. The 2021 Workgroups are: Public Education, Conference Resources, Financial Diversification, Federal Advocacy, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
David Arnott is on the Outreach Committee and WEFMAX Committees. David is starting to get up to speed on the committees’ goals and activities for 2021.
David is also on the part of the Public Education and Conference Resources Workgroups. For Conference Resources, the group met on December 16th. The two main charges of this Workgroup for 2021 are to make an infographic to outline which virtual meeting platforms are best suited for various types of seminar and conferences. Part of this effort is also to summarize Lessons Learned for virtual conferences and seminars. The group wants to create a deliverable that Member Associations can use to efficiently plan for and implements impactful virtual seminars and conferences.
The focus of the Financial Diversification Workgroup is to gather information on successful revenue streams. The Workgroup is looking for ways that Member Associations can supplement Annual Conference revenues with other income streams. Tracy is working with this workgroup to survey member associations to document best practices to share the information with Member Associations in 2021.
Tracy is also participating in the Federal Advocacy Workgroup to amplify WEF’s advocacy messages and priorities through Member Associations. WEF has been able to advocate for more resources for our communities and utilities including additional funding resources, providing technical comments/science-based evidence on regulatory issues, and more recently recommendations on worker safety. A sustainable federal advocacy effort that generates results needs to have a strong grassroot base. Recent successes have been because of members writing Members of Congress, visiting their representatives, and being engaged on the issues. The focus of this workgroup is to increase engagement with Members of Congress and WEF Member Associations to amplify WEF’s advocacy priorities, develop a tool kit, and help increase participation in the WEF Fly-in.
In closing, we want to stress that the WEF Delegate role is to represent the interests of the Member Associations to the House of Delegates and WEF. If something is on your mind, please feel free to call or e-mail us to we can covey those concerns onward. WEF is very sensitive to fact that they have to be responsive and reactive to the needs and concerns of the Member Associations. The WEF Delegates are the conduit by which this communication happens.
Until our next update, stay safe and keep warm!