From the Chair: Looking Forward to OBI’s Next Two Years
By Karen Vineyard, chair, OBI Board of Directors
As I look back on my two years as chair of OBI’s Board of Directors, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished and excited by the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I’m also more convinced than ever of the value OBI provides to employers across the state, including those that don’t yet know we exist.
All of us endured the past two years, so I won’t dwell on them except to note the resilience with which our board and staff responded. We mastered Zoom, turned our homes into offices and said things like “you’re on mute” and “can you see my screen?” more often than anyone would like. We also managed to keep the organization on track, focusing on vital policy work, improving governance and hiring a new president and CEO.
In other words, even as the pandemic disrupted almost everything, the board and staff of OBI positioned the organization well for the future. And barring surprises, much of what we need to do is clear.
We need to expand our footprint, especially in areas of the state in which we have few members now. Oregon is a big state, and the distance between Salem and Portland and cities like Hood River, Redmond, Umatilla, Medford and Ontario might once have made it difficult to create the kind of connection our common purpose requires. That’s less true now, thanks to COVID. We’re all Zoom experts these days.
We need to diversify our membership even further, appealing not only to geographically dispersed employers, but also to small businesses and those in underrepresented sectors. To accomplish this, we need to communicate the value of the vital work that OBI does in the Legislature, in the rule-making process and elsewhere – often behind the scenes. There are far too many potential OBI members in Oregon that don’t know that we exist, much less what we do and why they should care.
We need to maintain our timely focus on manufacturing. Intel’s recent announcement that it will build at least two plants in Ohio underscores the importance of OBI’s work and exposes the regulatory and recruiting shortcomings that affect all manufacturers in the state to one degree or another. And because these shortcomings affect manufacturers, they affect their employees, who tend to be paid well. OBI must continue to provide the leadership that currently is in short supply elsewhere in Salem.
OBI is Oregon’s biggest and most influential business organization, and the work we do helps employers across the state. By growing our membership and expanding its diversity, we will enhance our ability to advocate for them and for their employees.
We are well-positioned to make this happen. We have found the right leader for OBI’s next chapter, bringing Angela Wilhelms on board as our new president and CEO. Angela quickly dove into her new role, and our board is confident that she will provide the leadership and strategic expertise we need to expand our organization.
I am confident, too, that incoming Chair Jordan Papé, CEO of the Papé Group, and our team at OBI will embrace the work that lies ahead. Ensuring that policymakers understand the true impacts of their decisions on Oregon’s families and economy is no small task, but it is critical to the health and prosperity of our state. Ensuring that employers across the state understand what OBI does and why they should join is no less difficult or important.
Thank you for your membership in OBI. It has been an honor to serve as your board chair, and I look forward to seeing the success that our organization will have under Jordan’s leadership.