In August, the SPE Gulf Coast Section board adopted a set of goals for the new program year:

Maintain a strong financial position—Not too many years ago our Section was in a weak financial condition. At one point our bank account was actually negative, and we had to sell investments to cover our expenses. To correct the situation, the board adopted some strict cost-cutting measures and took steps to increase revenue. The actions were successful, and our Section is once again very healthy financially. Our assets have grown significantly and are now about 75% of our annual expenditures. I''m not sure what that ratio should be ideally, but the current level seems quite good to me. (If anyone knows of best practices for a nonprofit organization like ours, please let me know.)

SPE Gulf Coast Section Assets

In 2005, the SPE GCS board redirected assets into less-risky investments, which contributed to the substantial improvement in total assets in 2005 and 2006. (Values are reported for the end of each program year in July.)

Improve services to members—Because of our solid financial health, the board is interested in finding ways to improve services to our members. One idea, for example, is to increase funding for scholarships. A number of additional good suggestions were made at our annual kickoff meeting in August. We would appreciate your suggestions as well. Over the coming months, the board will be looking hard at a variety of ideas to put our assets to good use. Please contact me with your suggestions (

Increase membership and participation—We are always interested in attracting new members to the SPE and retaining those who have already joined. We can do this by providing programs that our members find valuable. Over the years, we have estimated that only about 8% of our members attend one of our meetings during the year. There are many reasons for this low turnout; we will try very hard this year to find new ways to add value, and, therefore, to increase participation.

Disseminate technology—What would the SPE be if we weren''t helping to disseminate technology? At the break-out session at the kick-off meeting on programs, led by Rebecca Gallagher, there was exciting discussion about how we can put the latest technology to better use. We would like to make better use of opt-in e-mail lists to announce our events, for example. Our vice chair, Allen Shook, is leading a committee to pursue this. Other ideas that were surfaced include pod casting, RSS, blogs, and video on our Web site. Our technology transfer chair, Don Duttlinger, is actively developing plans in these areas.

Renew long-range plans—Every three years the Section prepares a Three Year Plan, which includes specific action items shaped by the Strategic Plan and by our by-laws. Both of these documents can be found at on the Governance section of SPEGCS The current Three Year Plan covers 2004-07 and is needs to be updated. Allen Shook, is leading the charge.

Improve section administration—This may be the least exciting and least visible goal for most of our members, but the board is committed to improving how the Section is administered every way we can. For example, we will be reviewing the recommendations from our Accounting Review to see which should be adopted. We want to reactivate the Financial Advisory Board, which is a group of finance experts who advise us on how Section funds should be administered. We also want to strengthen the role of board liaisons. These liaisons will maintain communications with the Board and provide active support and involvement with each of the study groups and committees.

Have fun!—And, of course, we want to have a good time. Life is too short to get stressed or grumpy. So let''s enjoy our work and our many friends in the SPE. There''s a lot of fun to be had at the social activities and sporting events, but also through networking and camraderie at the monthly meetings.

Comments—As always, I would appreciate hearing from you. Your thoughts, suggestions, and comments will be most welcome. Please feel free to contact me at or at