Really, what a three-year journey! It all began with a phone call from then FNGLA Past President Sandy Stein. I can’t make this up. For those who think leadership within FNGLA is in any way steeped in secret handshakes and high ceremony – it is not! As I answered the phone on that fateful day, Sandy said, “You’re it!” and unceremoniously hung up! I kid you not. It was that simple and it was the extent of the conversation.
The last three years and, particularly, the last eleven months, have been unforgettable. Literally, unforgettable. I am certain the reel will positively replay in my mind for the rest of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our great association and remain humbled our membership entrusted me with the honor and confidence to do the right things. I hope you are pleased, as I am, with the state of our association and the direction we are heading. We have done a lot to get here.
FNGLA Immediate Past President Ed Bravo and I recently guesstimated we traveled over 36,000 miles. Attended countless FNGLA Chapter meetings and events. Faced down not one, but two, hurricanes. Lobbied legislators in both Tallahassee and D.C. Championed new directions inspired by feedback from members. And, most notably, worked closely with staff, fellow executive leaders, and the Board of Directors to tweak the programs, processes, and nuts and bolts of member leadership within FNGLA. The real “sausage-making” of our association.
If not for Ed, I would not be here writing this column. Ed has been my buttress, dear friend, fellow Amigo and inspiration. We will miss you, Ed and, on behalf of our FNGLA membership, thank you for your service and all of the benevolent actions and thoughtful administration you bestowed us. Enjoy the pasture…
Though I reflect with a smile on my face, I would be less than honest if I did not say, “I’m ready to pass the baton!” (Or, flip flops?) I am happy to report Shawn Thomas, of FNGLA’s Northeast Chapter is ready. I am confident he too will cherish his year and bring a distinct perspective to vault the FNGLA into further greatness.
Should the votes be there at FNGLA’s annual meeting (and I am confident they will be), Martin Hackney and Sarah Spatola are positioned to strongly support incoming FNGLA President Shawn Thomas. Both Martin and Sarah are Class X graduates of the UF/IFAS Wedgworth Leadership Institute. Martin will become FNGLA’s first “legacy” president as his father, George, was FNGLA President in 2001-02. And, Sarah, well, she is smarter and sharper than all of us combined!
Though these are the folks with whom I most regularly communicate and interact, we work for you – and we never forget this. While I still I have a soapbox, I wish to close with this: If you ever get the “you’re it” phone call – say yes!!! If a neighbor and fellow FNGLA member is down – help them up. Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Stay engaged – you will forever be nurtured. And, give -- you will forever be blessed. I look forward with great excitement to receive you in Tampa at FNGLA’s 2019 Annual Convention.
Until then and I thank you,