President’s Message Jan. 2021

2020 Ends and 2021 Begins …. What Changes?

Everyone was waiting for the clock to strike midnight and 2020 to come to
an end. This past year was full of turmoil, uncertainty, insecurity, grief and
sorrow. We saw job loss, sickness and people pushed to the edge both
mentally and politically. I do not need to dwell on the year past and all its
problems as well as having lived through it. What I do want to talk about is how JAG stepped up as an organization this year and recap some of the great things we accomplished. I will point out however, my remarks will be
brief and highlight some of the accomplishments of the different  committees. In the past newsletter you can read each committee’s year-end report in more detail.

The External Relations Committee has kept busy throughout this pandemic. They have provided enhancements to the JAG website, social media outlets and informational articles about our members in the newsletters. We have had new organizational members along with current members present at our JAG meetings and have made these presentations available to watch in a special member’s only section of the JAG website. The committee will continue to grow these features in this new year.

The Finance Committee has been keeping on top of the JAG budget, monitoring our expenses, finding ways to cut back and keep the organization solvent. The year 2020 was a year without a JAG Conference, which is an income source for the organization.  Fortunately, there were other areas of expense that we reduced or eliminated including attending the national NATOA conference and having a booth at the NJ League of
Municipalities – both of which are some of our major expenses.

The Production Committee started off 2020 very strong, finishing a series of videos for the NJ League of Municipalities. If you have not had a chance to see them, please visit the member’s only section of the JAG website to view them, you will not be disappointed. The committee has also been working with External Relations on releasing a series of JAG videos and testimonials. Look for a new YouTube Channel and other great things in 2021.

The Conference Committee: Since there was no conference in 2020, the
conference committee was disbanded. An exploratory committee was created late in the year and has recommended that the JAG Executive Board create a new committee. This will be brought up at the annual re-organization meeting. If there is a conference it will be virtual with a lot of exciting new sessions for members along with a trade show element.

The Legislative Committee also started off very promising with bills in the House and Senate supporting PEG Stations, but par for 2020, they were derailed when COVID-19 hit. However, this did not keep the committee from reaching out and having conversations with our legislators, getting some to sign on to the bills and keeping an open dialogue with them. In addition, JAG weighed in on the Verizon re-franchise in New Jersey. You can read more about that in another one of my articles in this newsletter.

The Membership Committee is focusing in on you and your needs. They continue to evaluate what our members are looking for, discussing with the various committees and the board to let them know. In addition, we have expanded membership and are reaching out to non-profits with interests in common with JAG. If you have not recently heard from the membership committee, please answer their call as they conduct a survey to evaluate our membership needs.

The JAG Awards are coming, the JAG Awards are coming!! The committee was hard at work in 2020 and are now working on reinventing the awards and providing an additional benefit to the members. Be on the lookout for the official announcement in next month’s newsletter. The first entry will be at no charge – compliments of JAG! Get your best work together from 2020!

Leadership Development is JAG’s newest committee and are charged with a lot. They are responsible for helping create the material that will help this organization, including Welcome Letters, Marketing Materials and other “Tools” that the various committees will use. This committee is comprised of members from each of JAG’s other committees.

As you can see, JAG persevered through 2020 and is in good shape for 2021. The Board of Trustees set some goals at its 2020 retreat which will be discussed further during the annual Reorganization Meeting on Wednesday, January 13th. Our main focus is and will remain our members, for you are the strength of our organization. We will continue to find better ways to serve you via social media, website enhancements, webinars, social hangouts and more. The organization will continue to provide educational opportunities to its members through various sources including presentations and our annual conference. We continue to partner with state organizations like the NJ League of Municipalities and national organizations such as the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors and The Alliance for Community Media to keep on top of legislation and changes in political climate. The JAG Executive Board will work together with the idea of supporting our membership, providing them the tools necessary to succeed and much more.

Finally, as I mention each month in my article, JAG as an organization is a very social group. Face to face interaction at this point continues to not be possible but there are work arounds. I encourage you to take part in these events, webinars, monthly virtual meetings, impromptu online gatherings and perhaps an online happy hour! Stay Home, Stay Safe and make the most of this time with your family and loved ones.

Bob Duthaler

President, Jersey Access Group