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News & Press: President's Message

September President's Message

Tuesday, September 1, 2020  
Posted by: Emily Guglielmo
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“If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going.”

Maya Angelou


My path to SEAONC President has been unconventional compared to many who have preceded me.  While born, raised, and educated in California, my professional career began in Colorado and Massachusetts. Upon my return to the Bay Area and increasing participation with SEAONC, I wanted to understand the origins and history of the Association. To that end, I relied heavily upon the Hensolt SEAONC Legacy Project , a paper from the 2004 SEAOC Convention by Jon Kiland and Thomas Atkinson, and rich conversations with my peers.


Did you know that SEAONC turned 90 years old this year? In appreciation of this noteworthy anniversary, I have outlined a few notable accomplishments since SEAONC’s inception. My hope was knowing a bit more “where we have come from” would better inform us “where we are going.”



In review of the history of SEAONC, I am humbled and gratefully informed regarding our impact upon the structural engineering profession and society. Our efforts writing the seismic code and advancing earthquake engineering have been impactful and lasting. SEAONC was instrumental in the creation of SEAOC, NCSEA, the US Resiliency Council (USRC), and the Applied Technology Council (ATC).  SEAONC’s SE3 Committee is the largest and most active group within SEAONC and NCSEA.


In review of our past, several themes emerge that are relevant today. SEAONC’s resilience through World War II and Great Depression reminds us that Covid-19 and the associated recession are both temporary and recoverable.  As we struggle with the cancellation of the in-person Maui Convention and lack of in-person SEAONC meetings, we must remember we have endured prior cancellations and scaled down events, and these were without the benefit of today’s novel technologies and virtual communications.


A second relevant issue arising from a glance at historical photographs is a reminder of the historical lack of diversity in our profession. While the photos bring welcome imagery to golden years for SEAONC, they also reinforce our continued need for additional gender and ethnic diversity within our profession.  Ninety years from now, I sincerely hope the SEAONC President can compare the photos from our 2019 and 2110 Conventions and be assured that our membership fully reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.  


As we celebrate the 90th Anniversary of SEAONC, we are grateful to our predecessors’ contributions over the past century. The deep respect with which SEAONC is held throughout the world is directly linked to the many accomplishments of our past colleagues. My review of our rich history has resulted in my even deeper resolve to fiercely protect SEAONC’s well-deserved reputation. While I am humbled by our legacy, our history also should remind us that a great organization is not passively maintained, but rather actively managed and continuously improved. Let us honor and respect this reputation by continuing to seek innovative ways to advance our profession for the betterment of all.

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