Finally… it is 2021.
It is an understatement to say that 2020 was a challenging year.
You may have heard me recite these Bob Dylan lyrics in August when the current Officers were sworn in; but they bear repeating, “Oh, the times they are a-changin.” (STILL)
There are changes all around us— social, political, technological, personal, economic, and medical– each requires that we navigate through new and increasingly complex and evolving landscapes. These changes not only profoundly impact our communities, but the companies for which we work, and the title insurance profession at large. Our NYSLTA community of professionals is a network in which we have become increasingly reliant when facing these new challenges and opportunities. In fact, we are often the ones responsible for discovering and implementing meaningful business protocols.
Despite all that came with 2020, my message today is one of optimism. There is no doubt that the coming year will continue to be full of hurdles. However, I am confident that we will persevere and overcome the obstacles placed before us. We will, however, need your assistance to persevere. For those who can, please be more active in the Association. For any non-members who may be reading this, please consider joining us and work with us to ensure the best path forward for our industry.
A significant challenge facing us is the need to increase our membership. We have found strength in numbers and the more members and volunteers we have, the better and stronger we become. To increase membership, we will continue to be at the forefront of disseminating important information regarding changes that affect our industry. Communicating effectively and expeditiously is one of our Associations best values – it is also instrumental in growing our membership. We believe the greatest threat to membership growth is a lack of awareness about the value of our Association and the benefits it offers. Therefore, we need to “spread the word”. Since the value of an association is vested within the views of its members, this campaign of “awareness” begins with you, the members. As a further incentive to become a member, we are introducing programming for all stages of a career in title. There will also be virtual programming and events held in collaboration with other industries.
Another critical area requiring our focus and attention is developing future leaders for both the title industry and the Association. There is a growing gap between seasoned professionals and “new blood”. Many of our seasoned title professionals are entering the twilight of their careers and are looking forward to a much-deserved retirement. As such, we must encourage and recruit new faces (who are early or approaching mid-career) to become involved in the Association. With this in mind, we have implemented two “mentorship” programs.
First, I asked each committee chair and vice chair to mentor a member of their committee and to guide and prepare them for a future leadership role. Second, we reinstated the Professional Mentorship Committee, which will be chaired by Rich Estrella and Andrew Zankel (Andrew is a former “graduate” of this program). The inimitable Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders are made, they are not born,” and this program is designed to do just that – develop future leaders of the Association.
We have not yet overcome this extraordinary historical moment of the pandemic, but hope is on the horizon as several vaccines will be available in the foreseeable future. We have been able to survive, but more importantly, we are poised to create positive change in our industry. I am proud of the success of our Association over the last couple of years, particularly in providing more opportunities for meaningful engagement of our members, introducing innovative educational programming and topics, and providing professional development and mentoring opportunities.
We should all be very proud to be a part of an organization that not only gives knowledge back but allows friendships to be created within the industry. I am following in the footsteps of some great leaders in our industry. As you are aware, this organization was formed in 1921 by individuals who were motivated and persistent in pursuing a goal of success for the Association. I intend to keep that tradition going as we enter our Centennial year.
While we may be competitors, we are a cohesive organization that supports each other as we work together to support the American dream of real property ownership. We need to work hard, work together, and remember the words of Helen Keller, that “optimism is the faith that leads to achievement”.
Thank you, members, for your continued participation and enthusiasm in our professional community. I invite each of you to participate and become involved.
And a special shout-out of appreciation to our Executive Director, Bob Treuber, and our Director of Finance & Operations, Regina Capone, for their tireless work on behalf of the NYSLTA, and for all the resources, guidance and support they provide each and every day. Thank you all!
In closing, I hope my message of unity and optimism will stay with you throughout the year.
Wishing you a healthy and successful 2021, and looking forward to seeing you soon.