asbointl.org SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JANUARY 2021 7 Reflecting on 2020 and looking forward to the new year Challenges and Achievement By David J. Lewis executive director’s message A s we reflect on 2020, it is exciting to see the many member-focused initiatives outlined in the ASBO International Strategic Plan that have come to fruition. The past year has been one of extreme chal- lenges and exceptional achievement. From growing our membership base to expanding our educational offerings, the association adapted to radically different circumstances while remaining focused on how we can con- tinue to serve the professional development and advocacy needs of our members. It has been particularly gratifying to see how ASBO International has risen as a promi- nent voice with regard to the issues of educa- tional leadership and operations—especially during the pandemic. Working with a broad array of other edu- cation organizations, ASBO International has become a valued resource for accurate and trusted information for not only our mem- bers, but also government agencies such as the CDC, congressional and administration researchers and policymakers, and a host of media outlets that are all looking for guidance as we address the educational needs of our students. Issues such as Internet connectivity and device availability, transportation, food ser- vices, budgeting, academic performance in a virtual environment, and safety protocols for facilities are the concerns our members address every day, and SBOs’ unique experiences and proficiency can provide valuable insights to others when it comes to school operations. The lack of a coherent national strategy in the face of the pandemic and inadequate fund- ing to implement a strategy if one were estab- lished means that, as is often the case, states and districts must figure out on their own how to best address the educational needs of their communities. Now more than ever, ASBO International and its members must be at the table as our schools and districts grapple with the myriad issues facing our communities and their students. While it is true that so many of school districts’ approaches must be guided by what is actually taking place within their indi- vidual communities, it is also true that many of these challenges are being addressed in a variety of unique and creative ways that can be replicated by other districts. Fortunately, school business professionals have tradition- ally looked to and shared with their colleagues their perspectives and best practices in school operations. That commitment to sharing is helping districts around the world continue to provide the tools and resources their students need right now. As our members learn from one another and share their collective knowledge, they are better able to influence those in positions of power—locally and nationally. This is impor- tant as we see far too often that support for education is put to the side in favor of politi- cal positioning, leaving those who are most in need to fend for themselves. We must do all we can to ensure this does not happen as the world begins to recover not only from COVID-19, but from the significant inequali- ties, social injustices, and funding shortfalls that existed before the pandemic and became even more pronounced during the past year. I am confident that ASBO International members will continue to advocate for their schools and communities in the new year, and we look forward to recognizing their achieve- ments through our Eagle, Pinnacle, Meritori- ous Budget, Certificate of Excellence, and Emerging Leaders awards. Recognizing members’ contributions to their profession, to the association, to their districts, and to their communities is one of the hallmarks of a vibrant association. It also serves to elevate the profession of school busi- ness leadership and ensure that our members continue to be included at the decision-mak- ing table.