One year ago, almost to the day, we decided to move our EDC board meeting online and announced to our team members that we would be closing the office for a few weeks. We decided to cancel all in-person meetings and events as well. Little did any of us know then how the next 12 months would unfold.
The past year has been difficult on everyone in immeasurable ways. To try to recap any of it would almost cheapen the challenges, loss, successes, struggles, triumphs, and trials that so many have gone through.
Yet through it all, we continue to draw inspiration from those who have been on the frontlines, supply lines, and everywhere else where citizens and workers have stepped in to do their jobs to ensure the safety and stability of those around them. We feel great pride in our healthcare systems and our scientific and technology-based companies for the roles they have played in advancing care, testing, treatment, vaccinations, and more. The “life-changing” mantra that has been such a central part of our work and messaging over the last five or six years has never seemed more fitting than now.
FINDING A PATH FORWARD
This economic recovery we find ourselves in will be long, challenging, and at times, heartbreaking. But it will also make us stronger, more resilient, and more mindful of our connectedness to each other. Our work may look different, and our priorities and goals will need to be constantly re-evaluated, but EDC’s mission, vision, and values remain concrete. Everything we do as a team and as an organization we do with and through all of you. We cannot thank you enough for your leadership, support, collaboration, and guidance throughout the past year.
THE WOMEN WHO LEAD US
On a different note, I want to take a moment to recognize the work our communications team has been doing this month to recognize March as “Women’s History Month.” If you have not seen the profiles they have posted, please check them out here.
As I look around at our hospitals, businesses, colleges/universities, cities, and anchor institutions, I see no shortage of amazing women who are leading and bringing about real change within our region. EDC is no exception. Our World Trade Center and economic development programs were recreated under the leadership of Nikia Clarke. Our marketing and communications work is led by Bree Burris. Our day-to-day economic development work with the business community is overseen by Ashley Swartout. Our EDC Foundation is run by Jen Storm. Our finance, IT and human resources work is spearheaded by Kathy Lu. Our organizational culture has been built in no small part by Catherine DeYoung. The list goes on and on.
But there are four women who I feel should long be remembered for building and changing the organization that I have the privilege to run every day:
- Julie Meier-Wright, who established the foundation that so many of us stand and build upon;
- Debbie Reed, who set EDC on a new and focused course;
- Janice Brown, who got us all to think differently about what economic development really means;
- And Lauree Sahba, who has been the thread running through all of them and connecting them with each other, with me, and with so many of you.
Every one of them, amazing. Each playing their own role in helping to shape our organization and our work. All of them inspiring the leader and person I will forever strive to be.
Sending all of you my very best wishes for the rest of the month and truly hoping to see more and more of you in the weeks and months ahead.
With appreciation and respect,