As I write my final message as MCBA President, I am filled with bittersweet memories of a year unlike any other. At the beginning of my term, I hoped to inspire connection and collegiality, having no idea that these aspirations would be even harder to achieve as of mid-March. Our country, our colleagues and our values have been put to the test this year. Yet I believe there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, and we have cause to be optimistic about 2021.

It has been an extremely challenging year for MCBA, as we were tasked with learning to adapt to an ever-changing environment. I am very proud of what we accomplished. Instead of our in-person gatherings where we looked forward to mingling with friends and colleagues, we were relegated to the “Hollywood Squares” format of Zoom, which is not ideal for interpersonal connections. Rather than learning from our respected teachers in person, we tried to keep our attention focused on a screen and overcome the myriad distractions that entails. I hope you found our presentations throughout the year helpful and stimulating. MCBA faced a steep learning curve and I believe did a remarkable job continuing to bring benefits to our members under trying circumstances. I especially want to thank Executive Director Mee Mee Wong for her persistence, creativity and dedication in keeping us vibrant and relevant in the face of the global pandemic and shut downs. Mee Mee gave me and the MCBA board invaluable guidance and support and we truly appreciate it!

With the background of the pandemic and its daily newsfeed of lives lost and positive test results increasing exponentially, we survived one of the most hotly contested and challenging elections of our time. Come January 20, we will have a new leader in the White House, and I hope that positive change will begin to repair the damage done to our democracy over the past four years. Incomprehensibly, the irrational contesting of election results continues, but it appears certain that these efforts will fail. As the now former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said, this election was “the most secure in American history.” The peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of our democracy and I believe that we will have just that in January. I know that I will have no issue handing over my gavel to my successor, Tim Nardell, at the end of 2020!

This year saw a heightening of racial tension and an increased awareness in many communities of the ongoing presence of implicit bias and racism in our society. We lost great leaders such as John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who devoted their lives to the fight for equal rights for all citizens, regardless of race, gender or religion. At MCBA, we hosted several conversations about race, bias and institutional racism that were meant to educate and promote deeper understanding. I hope you were able to attend and that you found them thought provoking and helpful.

I have learned a lot this year as well. I have learned to be more adaptable and patient, to be a better listener, and to appreciate what is truly important in life. I discovered my leadership style and learned to be comfortable with it. While I truly missed seeing all of you in person and enjoying the camaraderie we always share, with a vaccine on the horizon I now see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that we will be in that place again soon; we just need to continue to be patient.

My friends, my hope for all of us is that we stay healthy and positive and continue to strive for connection and involvement, notwithstanding the barriers in our way. I look forward to being together in person in 2021, and to continuing to help MCBA be your resource for education, connection and community.

All my best,