Orange County Branch Newsletter

June 2018

President's Message

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

By Jeff Braun, P.E.

I know this is an over-used saying, and it makes me sounds like everyone’s grandfather, but I am sincerely impressed with, and thankful for, the Orange County Branch’s culture and organizational systems that make leading such a great organization very rewarding … and probably easier than some may think.

We are about to go through another season of change within the OC Branch.  Elections for our executive board just wrapped up, and I’m excited to confirm that on October 1, Ravi Shah and Remi Candaele will assume the roles of President-Elect and Treasurer, respectively. They both bring a wealth of experience from their careers as well as their involvement with ASCE. They served in leadership roles at all levels of ASCE, from their student chapters, through YMF and the LA Section, up to society-level efforts. Clint Isa will continue as Secretary and Elizabeth Ruedas will start her Presidential year.

What impresses me most is the seemingly never-ending pipeline of motivated and competent engineers we are lucky enough to work alongside in Orange County.  We have past-presidents serving at the Section, Region, and Society levels, as well as several OC Branch leaders holding key positions with our fellow professional organizations such as the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) and the Orange County Engineering Council (OCEC). Our committee and institute leaders continuously explore new opportunities to add value for our members’ and provide the right mix of technical content and fun that keeps engineers engaged with ASCE. We also have dozens of YMF members who continue to take on greater responsibility and help the OC YMF and Branch thrive.  Over the past few years, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the student chapter leadership.  The chapter leadership commitment beyond the standard engineering curriculum is not easy to take-on, but they’ve stepped-up, rallied their fellow students, and helped their chapters gain invaluable experience while hosting the Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) or building teams that reach the national-level of ASCE design competitions. 

I was motivated to write about this as I thought about the success the ASCE Orange County Branch has achieved, and continues to experience, even though names and faces continuously change.  Right after we learned the OC YMF was once again selected as the Best Large Younger Member Group in ASCE, a few of the leaders who contribute greatly to the OC Branch’s programs shared that they will be moving away from Orange County; some temporarily, and some permanently. As many of us experience when key team players are stepping away, I was initially stressed about what their absence would mean to the Branch. Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to be assured about the Branch’s ability to continue serving our members.  The departing members didn’t just drop their mechanical pencils and engineer’s scales and walk out the door.  They’ve continued supporting the Branch and YMF by dedicating valuable hours while concurrently planning moves, looking for homes, or solidifying their new professional roles. Fellow leaders from across the branch shouldered more responsibilities to handle the initial transition while familiar faces volunteered to assume leadership roles and carry on the successful programs and systems already in-place.

While Isamar Escobar and Jenny Mital were planning an amazing event for local students to watch Dream Big on the big-screen, they were considering significant life choices about personal and professional opportunities that would overwhelm most people. Jazzy Quinabo was offered an opportunity for a temporary assignment in her home state of Hawaii. While most of us understand why she couldn’t pass it up, I initially, and selfishly, feared how our upcoming programs and major events would turn out, as Jazzy has been the primary planner and director of the Branch’s major events over the past few years.  Of course, my fear was not necessary.  Just like Jenny and Isamar, Jazzy had already started setting up systems to hand over key information to new committee leadership and committed to continue contributing remotely.  She unselfishly set up several meetings during her last couple of weeks before leaving, while she was also coordinating her temporary home in the Pacific and saying goodbye to friends.  Jenny and Isamar continue to dedicate their valuable time to prepare their successors as they make final arrangements to leave Orange County in the coming weeks. All three of these women are shining examples of what makes the OC Branch such a great organization to be a part of. 

It hurts to have such great team members depart, but several of you have already volunteered to make sure the well-established programs continue running.  Thank you to Victor and Guillermo for stepping into the K-12 committee leadership roles; and to Ravi and Chuck for dedicating more time to the Social and Programs committees.  There have also been several new faces at our committee meetings and I am inspired by their energy and willingness to help create great events and programs for our members.

I don’t know whether the Branch’s culture draws these rock stars, or they are the ones who create the culture, and I guess it doesn’t really matter.  The important thing is that the culture you all helped create will serve Orange County’s civil engineers very well for years to come. 

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