Behind the Scenes: Another Step Forward
Dave Freeman, 2016 NWA President
We have a Thanksgiving tradition in my family of going around the table and having each person share the things they are thankful for in the past year. It is a very sweet tradition, and it helps to keep us focused on what is truly important in life.
In that spirit, may I say how grateful I am for the success of our 2016 Annual Meeting in Norfolk. Attendance was strong, the spirit was great, papers and posters were enlightening, and all signs point to a healthy organization that continues to grow and develop.
One of the indicators of this continued progress was a request by our National Weather Service to communicate directly with the Association, its leadership and members, about an ongoing, critical reassessment of the future of the NWS.
This spring, the NWA Council was asked to allow time at its mid-year meeting in June to hear a progress report on the National Weather Service’s Operations and Workforce Analysis (OWA) project. The Council was glad to clear a part of the agenda to hear a briefing on this important effort to shape the National Weather Service for the challenges of the coming decades.
The NWA was also asked to put a presentation on OWA in the program of our Annual Meeting, which we accommodated. We believed it was natural for this topic to be discussed at our Annual Meeting because it is the place where operational meteorologists from all disciplines gather to learn from each other.
Behind the scenes, there was another event that I believe marks a milestone in the continued development of the National Weather Association. Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, presented the opening keynote address of the Annual Meeting on Monday morning. In addition, Dr. Sullivan asked to meet with the NWA Council formally, accompanied by the Director of the National Weather Service (and NWA Charter Member and past Councilor) Dr. Louis Uccellini. The purpose of Dr. Sullivan’s request was to discuss the OWA with the NWA leadership, and hear concerns and answer questions from Council members.
I believe this is a first for the NWA, and yet another sign that the operational meteorology community has a strong voice in this Association. We appreciated this opportunity to speak directly with Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Uccellini about the OWA, and how it will shape the National Weather Service’s future. All of us are partners with the NWS, and all of us have a keen interest in ensuring that it remains ready to meet the challenge of keeping the United States WeatherReady.