Mark EvansHi Everyone,
This year has flown by. And, our world has changed in ways none of us expected.

Just over one year ago, IABC’s World Conference in Vancouver was wrapping up, and I was planning our Southern Region board retreat in Austin. Now, Vancouver seems a lifetime ago with everything that has gone on since—in IABC and around the world.

We find ourselves struggling with not only a public health emergency but also with issues of equality and fairness. We’re having conversations that are long overdue, and I hope we’re all listening, learning, and growing as individuals and as a society. I know—or at least I hope (if I’m doing it right)—that I am. Too often, we get caught up in the politics, the news, the “he-said/she-said,” and forget to see each other as fellow humans who all want the same things for ourselves and our families. I know I’ve been guilty of it—especially when my ADHD brain takes over.

To me, IABC will always be about that human connection and that chance to learn from others scattered around the globe who come from different cultures and different backgrounds.

A few months ago on a quasi-dare from Zora Artis (outgoing chair of IABC’s Asia Pacific Region), I joined her weekly, online IABC happy hour—at 5 a.m. “Texas time.” It quickly became a must-attend for me because I get to hang out with people who I like spending time with and wouldn’t normally see. I’ve learned about them and their lives—and I’ve realized they struggle with the same things I struggle with—despite the fact that we literally live half a world away from each other. That’s just one example of what comes to my mind whenever I think of IABC—the people and the connections.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. I would like to think that COVID-19 is bringing us closer together as humans by forcing us out of our comfort zones and into new ways of communicating with and learning about one another. Yes, the world is changing. Yes, we are having difficult conversations. Yes, we may be stressed and worried. But, this to shall pass, and we will be stronger as a result. In the meantime, we have our IABC community to help support us—because we’re all in it together.

So, as I wrap up my last column as region chair, I would like to thank everyone on our board—David, Patrick, Shelley, Lynda, Mary, Jordan, Alison, John, Rick, Don, and Jennie. They have all worked their tails off this past year and done spectacular jobs. I also would like to thank all of our chapter leaders for all that they do as they serve our members.

Finally, I would like to thank all of our members. You are—and always will be—the heart and soul of IABC.

I wish you health, happiness, and patience. Oh, and, don’t forget to have some fun, too!

Mark Evans, SCMP
IABC Southern Region Chair, 2019–20