Upbuilding the profession: doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

AuthorMcCormally, Timothy J.

This spring gave me the opportunity to attend several local TEI events, allowing me both to witness the Institute's vitality in the chapters and regions and to renew friendships with many members whose ability to attend Institute-level programs has been constrained by reduced travel budgets. When I speak at a chapter meeting, I thank the local leaders and the meeting's organizers, noting that there are only 18 people in the world who are paid by TEI--those of us on the staff. While my D.C. colleagues' contributions to the Institute's success are substantial, all of us acknowledge that the bulk of the work is done, on a volunteer basis, by the members. When an organization is well into its seventh decade, it is easy to take for granted what is, without question, truly remarkable: Year after year, talented women and men who already live intensely busy lives raise their hands and say, "Yes, I'll help."

Think upon it: There are precious few TEI members who work for companies that do not in 2010 ask them to do more with less and hence whose workload is not greater than it was a year ago. And there is likely not a single member who does not have substantial personal responsibilities, relating to children, parents, or other family members, to a church, synagogue, or mosque, to a school, or to one or more social service organizations. And yet, every day, across the globe--from Singapore to St. Louis, Hong Kong to Kansas City, Amsterdam to Atlanta, Calgary to Santa Clara--members step up to the challenge of contributing to TEI. Atop the Table of Contents of each issue of The Tax Executive, there is a quotation attributed to Theodore Roosevelt that "Each man owes some of his time to the upbuilding of his profession." Putting aside the non-inclusive language that TR used those decades and decades ago, those words have been the credo of TEI's volunteer leaders at all levels since 1947.

Indeed, during a 2005 conversation, the daughter of TEI's founder, Paul Smith, spoke of the ethical underpinnings of TEI. Sister Carol Ann Smith talked about the obligation that her father and other founders felt toward "upbuilding the profession." She also spoke about how her father and the other early leaders of the organization travelled the United States, using their own (or their company's) resources to promote the fledgling tax organization. To be sure, individual members benefitted from the network of tax professionals that was being created; they benefitted, too, from the educational programs that the Institute hosted and from the rapport that TEI established with government officials. But the found ers were possessed by more than self-interest: They were driven by a sense of responsibility--of doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do.

The right thing to do in 1947 remains the right thing to do in 2010: Giving back to the community, to the profession.


Following the Midyear Conference, my first trip was to the Minnesota Chapter for its 27th Annual President's Seminar, a two-day meeting that routinely draws more than three hundred registrants. (Last year's program drew more than the Institute's own spring conference.) The 2010 President's Seminar was chaired by Arne Espeseth of Tornier, who served as the 2007-2008 leader of the Minnesota Chapter. Arne did his predecessors and the entire chapter proud by the way he marshalled the...

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