First, let me begin by welcoming you to Chicago and the 133rd Inland Annual Meeting. We have an outstanding program awaiting you.
As I reflect on this last year as president of your association, I can report that Inland is in good health and focused on building a strong future.
Membership is up. Our finances are stable. We have a number of initiatives under way that will further strengthen the association and its operations. And, we have an active and engaged board.
On that last point, I want to spend a minute highlighting the leadership of the association and foundation boards.
We have an excellent slate of new association and foundation officers and board members. Doug Phares will become Inland president at the upcoming annual meeting, and Cory Bollinger will become president-elect. Alan Fisco, president of The Seattle Times, has been nominated as association vice president, beginning his journey through the officer’s chairs. Cameron Nutting Williams, a director of the Nutting Company, will assume the role of vice president of the foundation and will work alongside Foundation President Jeremy Halbreich, focusing on the Inland Foundation’s investment policies and long-range financial sustainability. Also the following are joining the board: Stacey Hill, NPG Newspapers; Emily Walsh, Observer Media Group; Heidi Wright, EO Media Group; and Alton Brown, BH Media. Congratulations to all new officers and directors. We are excited to have you on the Inland leadership team. A special thanks to Doug Hiemstra, executive vice president of BH Media Group. Doug is concluding his service as association chairman.
In the past year, key committees have been active, with a long-range strategic focus.
Under the extremely capable leadership of Membership Committee Chair Cory Bollinger, we continued our laser focus on retaining and growing Inland membership. Through June, total membership was 1,450 – the highest number of members in recent history.
The Marketing Committee developed and implemented a new marketing plan under the guidance and leadership of committee chair Matt McMillan. The committee work was aided by the contributions of Marketing Director Paul Camp. The committee has focused on improved communications and a more focused and targeted use of email marketing – all intended to increase engagement and bring more focused and strategic member communications.
Doug Phares and the Strategic Alliance Committee continued to nurture, develop and explore relationships and operational and programming synergies with other industry organizations. Those efforts are highlighted through our ongoing and valued partnership with the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the Local Media Association on the Mega-Conference. This year we also engaged with the News Media Alliance as a co-sponsor of the Mega-Conference. We will continue to seek partnering and co-sponsorship opportunities as the industry faces ongoing and unprecedented consolidation of ownership, disruption of the traditional media sectors, and the ongoing transition to a digital world.
Jeremy Halbreich has brought exceptional leadership as president of the Inland Foundation. He and his committee have brought a renewed emphasis on fiduciary oversight and management of the foundation’s endowment and investment portfolio. In the coming months, Jeremy and Inland leadership will be announcing an exciting opportunity to strengthen and build the foundation endowment to ensure our fiscal sustainability and financial independence.
On a personal note, I mourn the recent passing of William “Bill’ Skemp, former chairman, president and CEO of Woodward Communications. Bill was my former boss at WCI, but more importantly a friend, mentor and advisor. Additionally, Bill was an ardent Inland supporter and allowed me to contribute a great deal of time to Inland.
In closing, thanks for everything you do to contribute and improve the Inland Press Association. This is my final column as your Inland president. It truly has been an honor and privilege to serve as your association President. I’ve been fortunate to work with and alongside such a dedicated executive committee, board of directors and our valued members. Special thanks to Tom Slaughter, Patty Slusher and the outstanding and dedicated Inland staff.
Inland has been a special part of my life for the better part of 30 years and I have received more in value from Inland than I have ever contributed. Special thanks to my mentor and former Inland President, Mal Applegate for introducing me to Inland and in sharing his passion and commitment to such a fine and important industry organization. Best wishes to incoming president Doug Phares for continued success in the year ahead. The organization will be in extremely capable hands under Doug’s leadership.
Enjoy and make the most of the 133th Annual Meeting. I look forward to seeing all of you while in Chicago!