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Like everyone, we were shocked and saddened to learn of the bridge collapse in Baltimore. Our thoughts are with those directly impacted by the event. The safety of our transportation systems is a primary concern for our member firms and events like this reinforce the gravity and seriousness of the work our industry performs each and every day. We’re monitoring the situation closely and are in contact with our colleagues at ACEC/MD. We stand ready to offer our support as needed. It’s times like these that remind me of the gravity of the work you do.  In this case, it appears to be a mechanical issue related to the container ship. But I know every engineer who reads about this tragic event today is thinking about how to design a world where accidents never happen.

The last couple weeks I have had the pleasure of spending time on the road with many of our firm members in the states and also hosted a visit for some of our Member Organizations (MO) at an event here in Washington, DC. I returned last night from Houston where I had a great visit with ACEC/TX and spent some time talking about how hot the engineering market is in that state accompanying the rapid influx of people moving to Texas that want to call it home. The weekend before last, I joined ACEC/Louisiana for their Engineering Excellence Awards. I had the honor of being their emcee for the evening and almost lost my hearing when they shot off a confetti cannon about a foot or so from my podium in celebration of T. Baker Smith winning their Grand Conceptor Award for the Thibodaux Regional Wellness Center and Sports Complex! And from there I visited with ACEC/SC to help them navigate their strategic planning process, which I was pleased to learn is very closely aligned with the ACEC National Strategic Plan with a shared focus on strategic communications, building legislative influence, diversity of its member base, and energized member engagement. And last week we hosted the first of two MO leadership orientation sessions in our offices here in Washington where current and up and coming leaders come to ACEC National to learn more about what we have to offer and how we can collaborate effectively to serve our members.

These meetings have inspired me and reminded me of the depth of commitment our members have to ACEC throughout our entire federation. Our volunteer leaders truly lead with their vision for this organization, and they support our team at every turn as we strive to implement the plans and programs that we are all committed to in order to build a better future for engineering. And I was bowled over with the warm welcome on each of these visits and the appreciation that our members and our MO Executives showed for the work that is being done. I need to give a shout out to my MO Executive hosts, Barker Dirman (LA), Adam Jones (SC), and Peyton McKnight (TX). They are stalwart and respected leaders in their communities and I appreciate their excellent work and their friendship. And there are 48 more MO Executives that are watching out for your interests in a similar vein that make up this federation and have their own unique value proposition. If you aren’t a member of each of the MOs where your firm has offices, I hope you will consider joining today. It will be worth the investment!

Meanwhile, back at home in Washington, DC …

Early Saturday morning, the Senate approved a $1.2 trillion spending package to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. Under the agreement, key federal agencies like State, Homeland Security, Treasury, and Justice will be funded through September 30. President Biden signed the legislation on Saturday, averting a partial government shutdown and ending a budget process that began six months ago. Held at 2am, the vote technically came two hours after the midnight deadline.

Talk about a March Madness buzzer beater.

The push-pull of politics is never-ending in Washington. More and more, the focus is on soundbites, not solutions. That can be disheartening, until you venture outside of the Beltway Bubble. My visits over the last couple weeks have served as a great opportunity to update our member firms and state execs on what ACEC is doing and how we operate, but even more important, it’s an opportunity to exchange ideas, identify emerging issues and opportunities, and strengthen the ties we have as a federation. We can tell your story on Capitol Hill, but there is no stronger advocacy tool than a well-informed and vocal constituency throughout the states and all of you are to be commended for carrying the torch in your respective corners of the nation.

Have a great week,

Linda Bauer Darr

Linda Bauer Darr


March 27, 2024



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