Looking back on 2021 and ahead to 2022.

So often in our jobs as municipal communicators we are racing from one emergency to the next, which means we never have the time to reflect on what we have accomplished, how we did it, and how we can improve. That last step of reflection and celebration is vital. So, with that in mind and as we enter a new year, I wanted to share with you some 2021 TAMIO milestones and how it sets us up for 2022.

Association Management
The TAMIO Board has consistently said it wants to provide quality educational and networking opportunities to our members at the most reasonable cost possible. That is why you’ll notice that our annual membership dues and conference fees are lower than most others, and it’s why we have yet to charge for people to participate in our webinar opportunities. In fact, in 2021 the TAMIO Board purposefully did not increase the cost for memberships, the conference registration fees, and the TAMI Awards submission fees, as we knew many cities were still facing budget issues related to the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. And you won’t see any increases again in 2022. TAMIO can do this while also efficiently managing its the budget, ending the fiscal year with a $147,422 surplus.

Just like many other industries and professions, municipal communication has seen its fair share of turnover and staffing changes during the pandemic. For TAMIO, that has meant an uptick in new members, as we welcomed 121 communicators to our organization in 2021.

We also held our annual elections over the summer for the five regional director positions. Congrats to Rachel Reynolds (Region 2), LeaAnn Petersen (Region 3), and Linda Klepper (Region 4) on their reelections; and to Melinda Brown (Region 1) and Kristen Waggener (Region 5) on their election to the TAMIO Board. We also had three constitutional elections to provide a clearer election process and restructure the Board of Directors.

Learning and Connecting
As I mentioned, one of our main association goals is providing the resources for professional development and networking. Traditionally, we have done this through our annual conference, which we were able to bring back in 2021 after a one-year coronavirus hiatus. Round Rock and its brand-new Kalahari Resort played host to the event and provided a wonderful setting for us to reemerge from the pandemic. Here are a few conference highlights:

  • 206 participants, of which an estimated 40 percent were first time attendees
  • 15 sessions, one preconference session, four keynote addresses, and Film Fest, with more than 30 TAMIO members from across Texas sharing their insights, experiences and skills
  • A record setting 435 submissions to the TAMI Awards Program
  • We celebrated 122 TAMI Award winners for their inspiring work in graphic and website design, event planning, media relations, project management, video production, marketing, and photography

At the start of the pandemic, the TAMIO Board made a commitment to extend our learning opportunities well past the annual conference, with educational offering around the year. We continued that commitment in 2021 with our TAMIO Teammates program, eight webinars on a host of timely, informative topics, TAMIO Thoughts blog posts, and our TAMIO Facebook page, which now has 338 followers.

Finally, TAMIO continues its founding affiliation with TCU’s Certified Communicator Program. Since its start in 2013, 73 TAMIO members have graduated from the program! In 2021, TAMIO members Emily Beck (Corinth), Cheryl Bright (Bellaire), Ryan Hunt (Arlington), Chani Honeycutt (Nassau Bay), Andriana Rodriguez (Tyler), Devin Sanchez (Midland), and Matthew Smith (DeSoto) completed the program, becoming Certified Public Communicators. Congrats to the 2021 Cohort and to all TAMIO members who have completed the program.

The TAMI Awards are one of our annual recognition opportunities and in 2021, based on the recommendation of the TAMIO Awards Committee, the TAMIO Board added three special COVID-19 TAMI categories to celebrate the hard work communicators across Texas have done throughout the pandemic. Congrats to the 10 Texas cities who were honored for their work in these categories, including our TAMI winners: Carrollton and Mont Belvieu (External Communication), Round Rock (Internal Communication), and Arlington (Video).

In 2021, we started a new program to honor retirees who have served Texas communities and our organization. Last year, we recognized Betsy Deck (Euless), Will Hampton (Round Rock), and Pamela Bransford (Boerne) for their decades of service in government communication. Click here to learn more about the program or to recommend someone who is retiring.

Finally, the TAMIO Board bestowed its highest honor, the Cheryl A. Soward Communicator of Distinction Award, to Will Hampton for his more than 20-year, distinguished career in municipal communication which included terms as the president of TAMIO and serving on the 3CMA and CP Boards of Directors. This award is given periodically to pay tribute to the leaders in our organization who exemplify the best standards for government communication. Will, who started a well-deserved retirement in December, certainly fits that description. Congrats to him!

As we turn to 2022, the TAMIO Board wants to build on the successes of 2021 while also improving the offerings of our organization and the opportunities for more people to serve. Here’s how we’re doing that:

  • You may have noticed a lot of new members or first-time attendees at our annual conference last year. To help these new communicators, we have created the TAMIO One on One program, a mentorship program that will pair seasoned municipal communicators with new members based on mutual interest and experience. We hope this program will provide a permanent space for connection with an experienced TAMIO colleague, offering additional learning opportunities and networking, as well as support and guidance.
  • The TAMIO Board of Directors will be meeting January 13-15 at our annual board retreat to plan the 2022 TAMIO Conference in Houston. A big thank you to everyone who filled out the conference survey last year. We’ll use that feedback to make tweaks to the conference schedule and programming to better serve our members.
  • We have heard from our members over the years that they would like the opportunity to serve. We are listening and have created several new opportunities. TAMIO Teammates, is a group of experienced communicators in select fields who serve as resources for our members. You’ll see their posts and conversations frequently on the TAMIO Facebook page. We also have two standing committees that members can participate in: The Awards Committee and the newly formed Education and Development Committee, which will have its first meeting on January 12. If you are interested in serving on a committee or as a Teammate, please reach out to me (warren@arlingtontx.gov) or any board member.
  • In 2022 we will hold elections for President, President-Elect, Vice President for Development and Education, Vice President for Awards, and Vice President for Communications. Look for more election information later this spring.

Finally, if you’re looking for information about our organization or the latest news, please be sure to follow our Facebook page and check out our website, particularly our news page, which is loaded with all of our most recent content.

On behalf of the TAMIO Board of Directors, it is an honor to serve this organization. We had a busy 2021 and are looking forward to an even brighter 2022!

Jay Warren, CPC
TAMIO President
Director of Communication & Legislative Affairs
City of Arlington