President's Perspective Summer 2019 - Passing the Gavel

By Carol Kwan on Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Aloha Kakou

This is my last column as WCISA president. The year has raced by and ended in a flurry of activites involved with the recent annual conference in Waikiki. For those of you who attended, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from many people who were there. If we fell short in some regard, I expect we’ll hear about it in the conference evaluation surveys. Our members are well educated, thoughtful, progressive, and supportive. That, in my opinion, is what makes the Western Chapter a standout among the other chapters. Yes, I’m a bit biased! Remember, we’re in this boat together. What each of us does – or doesn’t do—makes a difference in our world, particularly in our local area and in our region. I’d especially like to thank Corey Bassett, our Conference Chair, and our many volunteers, sponsors, and exhibitors for helping to make this annual Conference such a success. Please see the side bar for a listing of everyone involved.

Those of you who have attended past annual conference banquets will have seen the ‘passing of the gavel’. All of the Chapter’s past presidents in attendance, line up in the chronological order of their presidencies, followed by our current and incoming presidents, and the gavel is passed from the earliest past president to the incoming president while, he/she is formally welcomed as incoming president. This ceremony holds a special meaning for me. I’m in awe of the visionary men (yes, it was all men back then) who got together and started our organization as the Shade Tree Council in 1934. I’ve no doubt that, if they were alive today, they’d be looking at each other and saying, “us, visionary?” They probably felt like ordinary people, like you and me, and they might well be surprised that the organization is still going strong 85 years later. Yes, we became a chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, grown to encompass four States. Although, the organization has changed, at our core, we’re still much the same. We still serve our members, our industry, and are committed to making a positive impact on the world around us.

Our current gavel is also special, made by one of our past presidents, Dr. Jim Downer, with wood from all four of our Chapter States. I love the symbolism of that – out of four, one. Regardless of which State you call home, we are all part of one Western Chapter. We come together to make something larger than the sum of the individual parts. The gavel is primarily symbolic – presidents don’t usually bang it at our Board meetings. But I have to say, it is rather fun to do so at the annual meeting that kicks off the WCISA Annual Conference!

Our incoming president, Molly Sinnott, from northern Nevada, is well-qualified to lead our organization, as are all of our Board members who will serve when their turns come. WCISA is fortunate to have so many qualified individuals willing to volunteer their time and talents to lead the organization.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the remarkable efforts of Epicenter Management, lead by Rose Epperson, a past president of our Chapter and our current Executive Director to make a meeting like this run smoothly. Through a contractual relationship, Epicenter has provided staffing services for the Chapter for many years now and has done so in an exemplary manner. Whether a Board member has prior experience on a nonprofit Board or not, Rose provides the guidance to keep our Board focused and on task, including occasional nudges about parliamentary procedures and ‘staying out of the weeds’. That means we are a strategic Board whose perspective is the ‘big picture’, not the day-to-day details.

I will continue on our Board for one more year as the immediate past president and will be serving on various committees for many years ahead. This is a great organization and I’m proud to be a part of it. There’s always room for more, so if you’re interested in serving on a committee, please let Rose know at

I would like to thank the members who elected me and gave me the opportunity to serve our organization. For me, it has been a wonderful experience, and an opportunity to grow professionally and personally. It also gave me the opportunity to meet many of the extraordinary people in our organization and industry. To those who are or would consider running for our Board, I say, “Go for it! You won’t regret it!” Mahalo nui loa and aloha!

Carol Kwan