Note - Tom Mellish, who has served as Executive Director since 2015, is retiring following a long career as an educator and then as IRTA's leader.
As I get ready to walk away, I want to thank everyone who made this such a great tenure for me at IRTA. I traveled the state and enjoyed visiting each chapter, each with your own uniqueness, but with dedication to your communities. I truly appreciated your support and the warm welcomes I felt at each stop.
Our officers and board members have all worked hard and done so much for IRTA and their respective areas. I have never been part of a board that worked so hard for a common purpose. It was a joy to serve alongside each member.
The staff kept the office moving supporting our members, locals and people wanting information on a variety of topics.
We branched out into the cyber world with a dynamic website and into the social media world through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, emails and podcasts. We are reaching out to our younger active teachers, so they are aware of us throughout their careers. We continue to use print media for our members that are not online but want to know what is going on and keep up to date on IRTA initiatives.
Our advocacy and messaging seem to be working. Our membership will be up for the third straight year as we have already surpassed last year’s membership numbers. Our membership drives are finding new members and our marketing is reaching more people.
These are all good trends, but these need to be continued in the coming months and years. Advocacy will continue to be key as we work with legislators to find more funding for the new Supplemental Reserve Accounts. It is time for increases for the “13th Check” and a Cost of Living Increase for our base pensions. These discussions are ongoing with leadership in the legislature and will be paramount throughout 2020 and 2021.
I am truly excited about our newest initiative, the IRTF Foundation Endowment drive. The potential the Endowment holds for IRTA and IRTF will only be limited by its size. I envision increasing their three established programs and new programs being started and developed. My wish is that our endowment will surpass its goal of $1 million dollars in the upcoming year. I believe IRTA will be the first RTA with an Endowment as part of their Foundation and one of the few state associations with a Foundation.
I was blessed and humbled to serve, work, lead, and be part of such a great group of people that make up IRTA. I can’t think of a better way to head out into the sunset with such great memories and times I have had throughout my career. Please keep advocating for public education, pensions and enjoy your well-earned retirements!