COO Message — September 2021

Theresa QuirozIt’s almost annual meeting time again and we’re going virtual again this year! This decision was probably tougher for us this year than last, and it wasn’t made without a great amount of consideration.

We conducted member and employee surveys as to the type of meeting everyone wanted, and it was literally a split decision. The tipping point was the resurgence of COVID-19, but this time with the Delta variant. It seems this “bug” is even more highly transmissible than the original. We just couldn’t, in good conscience, pack members and employees into a conference hall and risk someone getting sick. All it would take would be one person there to potentially make hundreds sick. It was a risk we just weren’t willing to take. There was one member survey in particular that stands out in my mind, when it comes to keeping our members and employees safe. I’m paraphrasing here, but this person said that she is a nurse and has seen the worst of what COVID can do. She, too, was anxious to meet in person, having missed that closeness annual meetings instill, but she implored us to play it safe. We listened.

The surveys also revealed that there are many members who attended virtually last year, who had never attended an in-person annual meeting. There are many whose busy lifestyles, small children, or inability to be away from home on a road trip, made the virtual meeting very appealing.

Going forward, annual meetings will probably be a hybrid, with in-person and virtual attendance possible. As for this year, we’re pulling out all the stops to bring you the best virtual annual meeting experience possible! We learned a few things last year, and hope to make things run a little bit more smoothly this time around.

You’ll be glad to know that we do plan on having a couple of short intermissions this time. Of all the feedback we gathered, this was one of the most mentioned items, so go ahead and have that second cup of coffee while you’re viewing the meeting!

Not only will you learn a lot about what Rio Grande was able to accomplish over the past year in spite of the many challenges, you’ll have a chance to submit your questions prior to the meeting, as well as during the meeting via chat. We will answer as many questions during the meeting as time permits, and, as always, all questions received will be answered in the November edition of the magazine.

You can register online on our emPOWER page using your account number. Remember that you must be registered prior to 9 am Saturday, October 9, in order to be eligible for all prizes. And, while we’re on the subject of prizes, please be sure to thank our prize sponsors, who make it possible for you to win these amazing prizes!

Theresa Quiroz