There were many touching moments at this year's annual conference. My list includes (but is not limited to) the opening (and energizing) hoop dance that was performed by an ensemble of Native Americans; the keynote session where attendees routinely applauded when consequential points were made by our special panel of speakers during a captivating discussion of our profession's future; the steady performance by several new, enthusiastic, and tired NEHA staff who were working their first-ever AEC; and most certainly, the moving acceptance speech that was delivered by Dr. John Barry upon being honored with this year's Mangold award. For me personally, however, the "granddaddy" of all the touching moments involved the event when many of NEHA's past presidents came together to honor (and roast!) me for my 25 years of service to NEHA. That particular touching moment was, indeed, "priceless."
From my heart, special thanks go to former NEHA President Harry Grenawitzke, who organized this first ever past presidents' dinner (and roast). Special thanks also to Kevin Lawlor and Stan Hazen from NSF International; their organization so very kindly sponsored this event. I have no doubt that the warmth, friendship, and fellowship that existed in that room touched not just me but surely everyone present.
In late May of this year, when I flew past my 25th year of service to the profession and your association, I hardly noticed. We were all involved in the final stretch of preparations for our annual conference that was by then only a few short weeks away. It is also not my inclination to look back. Except for learning lessons from the past, it has always been much more fun for me to think about the future and its limitless possibilities.
This special moment, however, forced me to think about the significance of reaching this milestone. More profoundly, it prompted me to think about the factors that explain why I have invested both my career and much of my life in this enterprise we all call NEHA.
Though many thoughts have come to mind (with some being interesting enough, I think, to warrant discussion in future columns), two thoughts clearly stood out to me. I will spend the remaining time of this column talking about those two thoughts--not so much to finish a little story about Nelson but rather to tell you something about the organization of which you are a member. I think you will enjoy this inside peek at what makes NEHA so...