An occasional blogpost from Lander Medlin, APPA’s Executive Vice President
September 8, 2020 — I would like to welcome everyone back from the ensuing chaos of the summer months and into this fall semester – whatever form it takes. It has been a tumultuous year and it’s not over yet. However, you have displayed diligence and resilience over the past several months, further embracing the uncertainty this future holds.
The pandemic isn’t going away. We’re not returning to normal anytime soon, and our routines and rituals will be disrupted indefinitely. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we have the incredible opportunity to invent new ways of learning, collaborating, and building personal connections, so that we can make clearer sense of the world and solve our most urgent problems together – from wherever we might be.
The APPA community has done just that over the past six months as colleagues have freely shared their knowledge and expertise, case studies and stories, and lessons of success and failure. All have provided insight and learning not found anywhere else.
As I write of disruption and chaos from this global pandemic, APPA is not shrinking back from the chaos. APPA is leaning in to this chaos we call COVID-19, and we actually did so rapidly turning on a dime to:
- Establish a website resource center in early March, updated daily;
- Pivot staff to a remote work environment a week later;
- Facilitate weekly Town Hall Meetings & webinars;
- Distribute Monday morning messages to the membership encapsulating content from the prior week’s Town Hall;
- Build emerging practices with colleagues and experts;
- Transform the annual meeting into a virtual event;
- Reinvent the association with an exclusive focus on your needs, both individually and institutionally.
APPA’s voice is reaching thousands of people weekly. The positive feedback has been overwhelming. How was that possible? We had already embraced a strategic planning framework with the vision of Preparing for Every Future – by creating a future of continuous learning. Everything we have done has been guided by that framework. We didn’t realize the need would be upon us this fast. COVID was the accelerant.
Why so important? Because the two biggest differentiators for APPA as an association are its professional development (in all its forms) and its special community – that’s each and every one of you!
We find strength day-in and day-out from both the work we do and the people with whom we work in our organizations. I would suggest that in the midst of all this insanity we call COVID, you have witnessed ordinary facilities folks – our front-line workers – stepping up to do extraordinary things. They are our heroes! You have done so amidst every natural disaster and emergency situation on your campus and you continue to do so throughout this global pandemic. This is what I call inspired leadership, and it doesn’t happen without a genuine willingness to listen, showing real care, concern, and empathy, and exhibiting integrity in every choice you make. That kind of leadership garners trust that will serve you well long after the coronavirus is subdued.
Several months back I said we have no muscle memory for what we are experiencing. That resonated with many of you. Recognizing that helps us deal with the continued uncertainty we face. Each and every day guidelines change, decisions change, strategies and protocols change. That can be and I’m quite certain is very frustrating. I heard someone recently ask, “How are you?” Almost a ridiculous question to ask anymore. The other person paused and finally said, “Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield!” Maybe that’s your answer next time, depending on how your day is going.
Yes, COVID has reshaped our very way of life. The world has shifted under our feet. The landscape of higher education – ALL education, whether higher education, K-12, or preparatory schools – has changed significantly and dramatically. Recognize that the circumstances were already present and prevalent; COVID is just the accelerant.
APPA – the association and its regions and chapters – are not immune. Indeed, we are advancing change; and since there is no playbook for any of this, we are creating one! I am pleased to report that the APPA Board of Directors most recently embraced the Implementation Plan for governance restructuring that responds to the disruptive changes that are transforming our institutions, our profession, and our association. That Governance Implementation Plan will be built out over the next two years. It aligns directly with the visionary Strategic Planning framework, “preparing for every future that creates APPA’s path into a future of continuing learning,” to meet the needs of this special facilities community for years to come. They say that awareness leads to choice. Now that you are aware of APPA’s change journey. Will you choose to lean in, join us, and help transform for the better?!
Frankly, I couldn’t be more thrilled that we are helping one another; collaborating as a community – the regions, chapters, institutions, schools, and business partners – all of us. Recognizing we will accomplish more collectively, interdependently, than we ever will individually, independently.
Therefore, we are emboldened, responding proactively, leaning in, and lending our voice – strategically – to the decisions that need to be made.
We may not be face-to-face but we are still “touching” each other’s lives in meaningful ways. Your institution needs your leadership, collaboration, and contribution now more than ever. A famous Spanish philosopher said: “If not us then who; if not now then when.” Please know: You are needed. You have value. Now’s the time!
* Read APPA’s Strategic Plan
* Register for Future Town Halls
E. Lander Medlin
APPA Executive Vice President