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President’s Message, James Thanasules

President’s Message,
James Thanasules

Greetings fellow members and readers. Alice Walker of The Color Purple said, “Time moves slowly but passes quickly.” It seems like yesterday when I was preparing my acceptance speech as the newly- elected President of the New York State Land Title Association. And now, nearly eight months later, “newly” is no more, much like when I began my title career and was “the young one” in the group until “young” was no more. But no need to fret. The passage of time brings the wisdom, knowledge, and experience to tackle new opportunities and challenges. 

The New York State Land Title Association was founded over 100 years ago with the intent to educate and advocate. The association educates individuals, institutions, consumers and legislators about title insurance; advocates for the title industry and its professionals; and keeps track of legislative and regulatory activities that can affect our industry locally and nationally. I am honored to be part of the continuation of this tradition.

From a global pandemic to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our officers and committees have been busy monitoring current developments and communicating them to our members. 

Current developments include a new superintendent for the New York State Department of Financial Services; the 2022 legislative session and Executive budget; comment letters for the proposed expansion of reporting requirements by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN); amendments to forms and procedures for New York City zoning certifications; the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act; the proposed New York Privacy Act; the resumption of foreclosures; the end of the New York City tax lien sale program; City Registers moving to Queens; online surrogates and tax warrant searches; a renewed focus on cybersecurity and an expansion of the specially designated nationals and blocked persons list. 

This year’s highlight has been the passage of remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) and remote online notarization (RON). Maybe it’s about time, but it’s also a bit confusing. Is this a mere continuation of the Executive Orders during the pandemic? What’s the difference between RIN and RON? Which one do I use? When can I use it, and for how long? Which technologies do I need to implement? Does the signer need to be in New York? Can the signer be in another country? Will this be the prevalent mode of notarization in New York, or is it much ado about nothing? As questions abound, the Department of State has posted FAQs on its website. But the association has also been hard at work conveying the information to our members and helping them navigate this new frontier. Our RON Committee has been instrumental in identifying and advocating for critical factors in this legislation. And we have gotten some positive press to boot!

Meanwhile, our centennial commemorative book and consumer education pamphlet are near completion. It will be exciting to present the final products to our members.  

Our Education Committee continues to offer a robust schedule of CE/CLE courses on various topics, including data privacy and a refresher on New York State regulations. And our monthly title tidbits are striving to be brief but relevant.

Virtual meetings can continue for New York State not-for-profit and religious corporations, as codified into New York’s not-for-profit corporation law. But as we zoom along, many of our members miss the in-person interaction of our monthly meetings. We’re hoping to return to such meetings soon, at least periodically. 

And lastly, one of our challenges is maintaining, increasing and diversifying our membership while planning for succession. Like other associations, many of our members are entering the twilight of their careers as they look forward to a much-deserved retirement. We are recruiting new members through our membership campaign, assembling our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee; and grooming future leaders through our mentorship program, which has entered its second year. We must encourage participation and stay focused on remaining a benefit to our members. The more we grow, the more we thrive.  

“Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.” And hopefully, we are making the best use of it. 

Thank you all for your continued support.

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