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Don Van Nieuwenhuise, Summer 2020

Don Van Nieuwenhuise I recall this past New Year's Eve thinking it was great to move finally from 2019 and on to 2020. As rewarding and at times as challenging as 2019 might have turned out to be for each of us, little did we realize that the New Year would bring challenges beyond our comprehension on a global scale. If a pandemic was not enough, once again and in the 21st Century, an act of incomprehensible brutality against an African American man was played out in Minneapolis by several whose profession was to protect and to serve. Please know we are aware of the many hardships that have resulted from the current crises and hope that those and additional hardships will begin to taper off in the near future for all of our membership. We are here for our membership, so please join in our dialogues and networking opportunities. We will move forward with the purpose of inclusiveness and respect for all.

Moving forward, as a member of the executive council of GCSSEPM, I am convinced that networking with our colleagues across the Gulf Coast region has never been more important. As such I will be dedicating as much time as I can to you, our membership, this year as I take over as the incoming president of GCSSEPM. I will be guided by three strategies during this very unsettling year as we work harder to engage our membership and partner organizations.

First and foremost, I think we all need to do our part to encourage students and young professionals to join the organization. We have reduced the cost of student membership from $20 to $10. In late 2019, I made an offer to encourage students to join GCSSEPM. For the first 10 students to apply, I would cover one year of their membership if they would cover a second year. I thought that if I could encourage students to join with a personal commitment from me that would be combined with their commitment to join, it would increase the odds of getting new members for the long term. If other members can think of ways to encourage more new memberships let me hear from you. Welcome on board to all of our new members in 2019 and onward!

Secondly, we should collectively join in an effort under the leadership of our Vice President, Mike Sweet, to further and fully engage our area, business, academic, and student representatives. For a Section the size of this organization, we have a unique and potentially significant networking system in place. We need to capitalize on this to the fullest extent and benefit of our membership and potential new members. Representatives can do many things by connecting with their local membership to find out what they see as valuable activities currently within GCSSEPM. Further, they can suggest new ideas to increase their engagement with the Section to gain further benefit. As such we have recently added several new student representatives including Shanna Mason and Aydin Shahtakhtinskiyin from University of Louisiana at Lafayette and University of Houston, respectively.

Thirdly, the pressures upon our social fabric today have clearly underscored more than ever before the value of social media and live streaming meetings. I am just beginning to work with our social media team that includes two new lead members Shahid Mehmood and Sumiyyah Ahmed along with Justin Gosses who has volunteered to help as his time permits. I will be meeting with this team once a month with the help of other executive council members to keep a steady stream of information on our current media platforms Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We will be evaluating the utility of these platforms based on membership participation and activity and at the same time considering additional platforms. Please visit GCSSEPM on these platforms to keep up to date with our activities and membership.

Although I put membership first in this President’s message, I enthusiastically need to welcome the newest member of our council, Nathan Wilkens, as our new president-elect by council confirmation. With sincere gratitude I would like to thank the current officers of GCSSEPM for their past and continued efforts to advance the mission of our section: Mike Sweet, VP; Thomas Demchuk, Past President; Milly Wright, Secretary; and Julitta Kirchova-Pourciau, Treasurer.
Also, another enthusiastic welcome for our new social media managers, Shahid Mehmood and Sumiyyah Ahmed. We just had a teleconference and will be having teleconferences once a month to keep our social media platforms active and timely.

Keep an eye out for updates regarding GeoGulf 2020 (September 30–October 2, 2020) and our upcoming participation in Earth Science Week on October 10th at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Respectfully submitted,

Don Van Nieuwenhuise