(l-r) John Calderon, Shelly Johnson, Alesa McArthur, Matt Pike, Glenn Duncan, Laurie Dueitt, Sheila Swett, Pat Tobin, Bret Abels, Karen Penafiel, T. Bruce MacKinnon, Teresa Witham, Doug Witham and Mark Mullins

New executive director, strategic plan among the many changes for the Foundation

The Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF) held its 2019 Annual General Membership (AGM) Meeting at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in downtown Mobile, Alabama, on February 20-21. Under the guidance of new Executive Director Shelly Johnson, on the job for 40 days at the time of the meeting, and EESF Chairman Mark Mullins, the meeting had an air of excitement about it, as fresh ideas were discussed and plans for the upcoming year were formulated.

The two-day meeting kicked off with an evening executive board meeting followed by a welcome reception. The next day was a full one, opening with introductions around the room. Many in attendance mentioned their enthusiasm at having Johnson at the helm after more than a year without an executive director. According to Bret Abels, newly installed EESF vice chairman, “It is exciting to take the Foundation to the next level.” Teresa Witham, newly installed EESF treasurer, concurred, saying, “I am so pleased with the new energy surrounding the Foundation, and I want to spread that through the industry.” For Johnson’s part, she said she is “thrilled to be here for the new launch of the EESF.”

Last year’s national search for someone to fill the executive director position yielded many strong candidates, according to Witham, who served on the search committee that took its time to evaluate the Foundation and create a new job description befitting its needs. “The key criterion was determined to be experience. We needed someone who could hit the ground running,” Witham explained. “The top three candidates were interviewed in Chicago, and Johnson came shining through. We don’t regret the decision for a second. She is a great fit for the industry.” Johnson’s vote to become the new executive director was ratified by those in attendance (a legality, as the original votes were cast electronically).

Johnson, who resides in Walker, Minnesota, will work remotely, the first EESF executive director to do so. EESF Program Director Laurie Dueitt will remain at the Foundation’s home base in Mobile, though the physical location of that office will be moving later this year to better accommodate one person. Though Johnson and Dueitt will do their share of traveling this year, it will be with more intention, said Johnson, who plans to get to know various companies by visiting them and the industry associations by attending their annual meetings. Dueitt plans to attend various conventions, including the National Catholic Education Association, National Boys & Girls Clubs of America and National Association of Charter Schools, to help promote the Foundation’s programs, particularly the Safe T Riders program geared toward school-aged children.

Johnson said she sees this year as a building year for EESF. Toward that end, she proposed a thorough 2019 budget to the group, and it was passed unanimously. She also discussed the importance of having a strategic plan, saying:

“As we reimagine this organization, a strategic plan will be important. We need a plan with both long-term and short-term goals and objectives. I propose that the EESF board and staff develop a strategic plan by July 1, and that after the plan gets approved, we implement dashboard measures. I am a goal- oriented person, so I am going to follow these goals. I’m going to strive to make them happen.”

The members agreed, and it was determined a strategic planning meeting would be held soon in a convenient location. The daylong meeting included a review and assessment of EESF’s current programs and activities over the past year, including its 2018 Safe T Riders digital campaign, National Elevator Escalator Safety Week, website traffic, fundraising campaign and financial report. Many new ideas for 2019 and beyond were also shared around the table, including ways to better communicate within the industry and ways to reach new and different audiences outside of it.

For most, the meeting was encouraging. Secretary T. Bruce MacKinnon called it a “great meeting,” and past EESF chairman Doug Witham agreed, saying it was “a breath of fresh air.” It was, perhaps, Mullins who summed it up best, saying, “EESF is looking up.”

EESF’s 2019 Board of Directors

  • Chair: Mark Mullins, Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund
  • Vice chair: Bret Abels, O’Keefe Elevator
  • Secretary: T. Bruce MacKinnon, Elevator World, Inc.
  • Treasurer: Teresa Witham, National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC)
  • Karen Penafiel, National Elevator Industry Inc. (NEII®) representative
  • William Snyder, NAESA International representative
  • Sheila Swett, International Association of Elevator Consultants (IAEC) representative
  • Cornelius Walls, NAEC representative
  • Gord Pattison, EESF Canada chair/EESF liaison
  • Matthew Dennett, RBN & Associates, regent-at-large
  • Glenn Duncan, Parts Specialists, Inc., regent-at-large
  • Matt Pike, KONE, regent-at-large
  • Pat Tobin, MEI – Total Elevator Solutions, regent-at-large
  • Jeff Schumacher, Schumacher Elevator, regent-at-large
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Elevator World | April 2019 Cover