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What an Amazing Journey

Diana Stegall, CSP, CFPS, ARM, SMS, CPCU, 2019-20 ASSP President
Jun 01, 2020

It is hard to believe it has been a year since I wrote my first President's Message for PSJ. We all know that so much has happened and changed since then.

In that initial message last July, I outlined three goals that guided me as I shared my thoughts and perspectives with you each month:

    1) discuss trends and developments in the safety profession;
    2) highlight key Society activities;
    3) provide a call to action.

Over the course of this Society year, I have focused on topics like risk and our need to look beyond our own experience to recognize a wider range of potential hazards and exposures. Let me share an anecdote to provide a quick illustration of what I mean.

When we moved to Arizona last May, I was told that rattlesnakes are common in our new state, and our parks feature plenty of signs to caution visitors about this potential danger. Yet, after not seeing a single rattlesnake for 8 months, I started to wonder if the warnings were exaggerated. Then, within a week, a rattlesnake showed up in our front yard, then I saw two more just a few feet off the path where I walk almost every day.

Those close encounters reminded me of conversations with clients about the need for additional hazard controls. Sometimes when I offered these suggestions, my clients would say “that hasn’t happened here” or perhaps argue that “the regulations don’t require it.” In most cases, their perception of risk was limited to their personal experience or what the regulations said. It is easy to overlook potential risks when we limit our perspective. Being open to different points of view is fundamental to being an effective safety professional and a successful, compassionate leader.

Change has been another focal point of my messages this year. As humans, we naturally resist change, yet it is not something we can escape as the COVID-19 pandemic has so powerfully demonstrated. Whether it is our changing world of work, adapting how we learn or constant advances in the technology we use, we must be open to the opportunities these shifts create and willing to look at things from a different point of view.

I have been so impressed with your resilience during these changing times and your ability to remain positive in stressful situations. So many of you have applied your skills and leadership in new ways to help your organizations, clients, and communities protect workers and customers from exposure to COVID-19.

Throughout this crisis, ASSP has been providing resources and information in various formats to help you access the information you need, when you need it. Many members, including Deb Roy, Vic Toy, Adele Abrams, Bruce Lyon, Georgi Popov, Pam Walaski and Julian Mercer, to name only a few, have shared their insights and expertise to help us respond effectively to the extraordinary challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am thankful to have worked with an amazing Board of Directors and staff as we have made unprecedented decisions for our Society in the past year. We used risk assessment and risk management principles to guide our process, and we applied a business planning method to ensure that we consider the advantages, disadvantages and risks associated with all of our major decisions.

Clearly, our biggest decision by far was our shift to Safety 2020 Virtual. While this will be a different conference experience for many of us, it creates some exciting new opportunities. For example, it overcomes company travel restrictions. Extended 60-day access to educational sessions means you have longer to learn and the potential to earn significantly more CEUs. You can connect directly with others via in-session chats, which can be a more purposeful way to network than seeing someone in the hall and promising to catch up "soon."

Many members have long viewed the events, ceremonies and celebrations at our annual conference as "the" destination for each ASSP president. Sure, I will always be able to say my version of that destination was the first of its kind. But the important story for me is the amazing journey that brought me here. Thank you for coming with me!

Kelvin Davis
Thank you for your leadership Diana. All the best to you.
Howland Davis

Well done during a difficult year.  "That hasn't happened here."  Amen to hearing that response over and over.  My other favorite was a Charlotte NC firm that had built a warehouse in northeast Ohio with a corrugated steel roof (there was not a room with a concrete ceiling) and would not understand that this is tornado country; they were very worried about hurricanes.


James 'Skipper' Kendrick
In my two minutes this morning, one of the things I was thinking about and grateful for was you. It seems like just a short time ago we were sitting in the VIP lounge talking about should you run, if so how to go about it and what it would be like if successful.  Tomorrow morning you will awake to the joy and sorrow of the word “past”. The joy of your accomplishments. The joy of the “firsts” you have experienced during your time of service. The joy of knowing that in spite of significant, uncharted challenges, you not only survived but thrived and grew as a person and professional. The joy of knowing in spite of almost insurmountable odds, you have done your part to leave the position and Society better than you found it with a solid , strategic vision of the future. The joy of a job well done. The sorrow will be that it is over. The “extra” time you now have in each day will be tempered by a longing for the interactions, challenges and sense of accomplishment in seeing projects, goals and visions come to fruition. You will have time to truly miss those who have been with you through it all. The sorrow of those things that were “planned” but due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control not completed. The sorrow of not being “there” to see it or make it happen.  Over time you will grow to appreciate this word more and more. The joy and sorrow will melt into the warmth of accomplishment and the opportunity to hopefully guide and mentor our future. It has been a privilege to watch and cheer from the sidelines. A special thanks for thinking of me at the conclusion of your year. Welcome to the world of “past”.  
Jerome Rogers
Thank you for your leadership. 
F Steven Spainhouer

Its great to see Skipper's comments posted on line. He speaks from the voice of experience as a past ASSP Leader. We can't, nor should we ever, take steps into the future without embracing our past and enjoying our any successes over the years. I first joined ASSE in 1996, almost 25 years ago and while I have been lax in renewing my membership as often as I should, I have not forgotten the many fine safety professionals I have encountered in the past quarter of a century, and then, there are the many educational safety programs I have benefited from as both a safety ad a professional risk manager. 

I sincerely hope that as we embrace new opportunities in our profession, that we never lose sight of our goals and our mission and that we continue to put people first in all that we do. Thank you for your leadership and dedication to the association. 




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