The 2025 SAME Strategic Plan is the guiding document for how the Society will meet its vision to be the foremost integrator of leadership development and technical collaboration in the A/E/C profession. Posts, as the place where members interact at the local level, are the key element to driving SAME’s greatest impact. With their insights into the most pressing needs of their communities, Posts are well positioned to determine which strategic goals are most applicable and how best to build engagement.
The Atlanta Post is fortunate to have the resources and member engagement to strongly contribute to all five strategic goals. Bricks & Clicks recently chatted with Beth Harris, F.SAME, and Candice Scale on how the Post keeps a multitude of programs, initiatives, and events organized; how it is making an impact in the community and the greater region; and tips for other Posts looking to support new strategic goals or bolster their existing focus areas.
Bricks & Clicks: How is the Atlanta Post contributing to all five goals of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan?
Scale/Harris: The Atlanta Post fully embraces the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan, using it as the foundation for all our activities and programs. At the end of each year, we hold a planning session to evaluate the strategic plan goals and the Streamers requirements to establish our priorities for the next year so our new officers starting in January can hit the ground running. We are working to making an impact in each of SAME’s five strategic goals.
Strengthen Industry-Government Engagement. In April 2021, we hosted our first IGE Workshop, bringing together discussions on the topics of federal size standards, TORN, and CMMC. This half-day workshop included participants from government and industry. Each session was moderated by a subject matter expert to facilitate the conversation. The panels included Sustaining Members as well as other government and industry stakeholders. The important conversations facilitated during the workshop will continue at future events, as each topic directly affects our local members and the government.
Build and Sustain Resilient Communities. Each year, the Atlanta Post plans a program focused on local and state resiliency issues. In 2021, we brought in a powerhouse team of experts from industry, government, and non-profit sectors to discuss key issues affecting Atlanta’s water supply. This conversation was timely considering the ongoing water wars in Georgia, a decreasing water supply, and the business opportunities in the local market.
Develop Leaders for the Profession. The Atlanta Post has maintained active engagement with SAME’s Leader Development Program (LDP) since its inception in 2019 and are proud of our members who have been chosen to participate. Prior to LDP, the Atlanta Post was actively engaged in the Emerging Leaders Alliance, which SAME supported. We promote LDP and its merits to our members and encourage participation. Many of our Fellows and senior leaders serve as mentors to our Young Professionals and are engaged in identifying and developing volunteer leaders and helping to ensure our succession plans remain in place each year. The leadership opportunities we offer within our Post help prepare members for continuous promotion within the Society’s ranks. These opportunities in turn result in leadership skills that can be taken back to the workplace.
Enrich the STEM Pipeline for the Nation. The Atlanta Post is proud of the camps programs we have in place. For more than 20 years, the Post has collaborated with the Boy Scouts of America to host the Exploring Engineering Academy at Georgia Tech each summer. In 2020 and 2021, the camp was held virtually due to COVID-19. This provided increased opportunities for more high school students to participate. Our Camps Committee works throughout the year to promote the camp and other STEM camps sponsored by SAME to increase awareness of the profession. Finally, our Post members are actively engaged in the local community and provide workshops to educate and inspire children at schools where we are connected. In 2020, we led a two-hour education session celebrating GIS Day at North Cobb Christian School that exposed 60 kindergarteners to this asset management technology and showed them how it is used in the community and in the engineering profession. It is never too early to start mentoring future engineers!
Prepare Servicemembers and Veterans for the A/E/C Industry. The Atlanta Post welcomes companies that are actively recruiting to post their open positions on our website free of charge. Transitioning veterans and other job seekers may post their resumes directly on our website for our Sustaining Members and other companies in the local Atlanta market to consider. Additionally, we have joined forces with the Georgia Association of Water Professionals to educate and recruit transitioning veterans into careers in the A/E/C industry. Looking ahead, we are considering combining efforts with other Atlanta-based professional societies, such as Georgia ASCE, to further maximize recruiting opportunities for veterans.
Bricks & Clicks: What are some of the Post’s signature programs and partnerships, and how did they come about?
Scale/Harris: The Atlanta Post has a rich history of programs that we are proud to offer our members and the surrounding community. We have hosted a full-day Southeastern Federal Symposium every other year since 2014. In 2021, we modified our programming to better align with SAME’s national goals and held our first IGE workshop.
For nearly 50 years, the Post has held an annual Shrimp Boil, a long-standing celebration hosted by our Young Professionals. It allows members to come together for networking, shrimp, and barbecue every fall. We are looking forward to this year’s event in October as we transition back to in-person events.
The Atlanta Post is actively engaged in the local A/E/C community through strategic partnerships with ASCE, Georgia Engineering Alliance, SMPS Atlanta, and others. Each January, we hold a joint meeting with the ASCE Georgia Section. This brings together two of the oldest engineering societies in metro Atlanta for a joint program that we share responsibility planning every other year.
We also participate in the annual A/E/C MEGA Meeting, a joint association event sponsored by SMPS that occurs each September and welcomes more than eight professional societies and associations in a large exhibitor/networking space prior to the lunch program, which features a topic/speaker relevant to the design and construction industry.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has truly been a lesson in resiliency. We have learned to be flexible and adaptable to the latest guidelines for our area and be creative in how we approach our events.”
Bricks & Clicks: How does the Atlanta Post collaborate with and support others in the South Atlantic Region?
Scale/Harris: The Atlanta Post maintains open communication with other Posts and regularly markets regional events such as Savannah Post’s Annual Program Review, Fort Benning’s Industry Day, Mobile Post’s Tri-Regional JETS, and Jacksonville Post’s Industry Day. Our Regional Vice President and other area Posts supported us by helping get the word out about our virtual IGE Workshop earlier this year, which was well attended by Atlanta Post members and others outside Atlanta and the South Atlantic Region. In 2022, the Atlanta Post is hosting the Tri-Regional JETS and looks forward to working with nearby Posts to execute that event next year.
In 2017, we led a joint event with all the Posts in Georgia following a tornado outbreak that impacted the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga. The Atlanta Post contributed and collected donations from the Savannah, Robbins, and Fort Benning Posts to provide a luncheon recognizing those at the base who were aiding in the cleanup efforts. This special joint event provided a welcome reprieve for all of those at the base as well as the Atlanta Post volunteers who went to Albany to execute the event on behalf of all the SAME Posts in Georgia.
Bricks & Clicks: Are you incorporating any lessons learned from the pandemic in the immediate future?
Scale/Harris: The COVID-19 pandemic has truly been a lesson in resiliency. We have learned to be flexible and adaptable to the latest guidelines for our area and be creative in how we approach our events. We do not have a retainer in place for future programs to allow us the flexibility to go virtual as needed.
We recently conducted our first hybrid event to provide the networking experience our members enjoy while allowing us to hear from key government agencies such as the Small Business Administration who joined us virtually to share information about upcoming business opportunities and updates.
The word “pivot” became a regular part of our vocabulary in 2020, and it continues as we now have a Zoom account, a hotspot to ensure good internet connectivity wherever we go, and DropBox for all files and photos. The Post faced its fair share of challenges getting to the point, however. It is clear that virtual events require extensive planning, testing platforms, rehearsals with all speakers, a well thought out backup plan, and plenty of patience. Being flexible and able to pivot on the fly has served us well in a few instances, and we will carry that lesson forward. The expenses involved in some virtual platforms can make it too expensive for a Post to utilize, so opting to go without the best technology forces some creativity and flexibility.
Bricks & Clicks: What advice would you give to other Posts looking to further diversify their program offerings?
Scale/Harris: Look to the SAME strategic plan and Streamer requirements as your guide. However, also consider local trends that affect our industry, such as infrastructure, cybersecurity, watershed management, water resources, and emergency/disaster response.
In Atlanta, we take the time to conduct annual planning each fall to plan our programs for the next year. This framework ensures we address SAME’s national goals and Streamer requirements and includes everything we need to be successful. Next, we select and engage speakers, choose the platform (virtual, in-person, or hybrid), and execute the plan.
Lastly, look at other Post websites for inspiration and consider hosting joint events with other Posts or organizations