This is harder than I ever imagined and it really is rather ironic, but after seven years of publishing Connections, it seems that this final article has been incredibly difficult for me to compose. No, this isn’t the last issue of Connections our readers will be seeing, but it is the last issue that I will be sending out as editor-in-chief, since yours truly (Jim Babbitt) will be retiring effective this coming Tuesday, October 1st. And for those many of you who know me by now, I am confident you have no problem at all imagining how choked up I am as I write this.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve as DPHA’s Executive Director for the past 7 years, but it is time for younger and more energetic people to help take the Association to the next level, and I am extremely confident that this will certainly be the case with Rebekah Covay (Executive Director) and Kymberly Weiner (Director of Marketing and Sales) helping the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors steer the course.
Since joining the Board of Directors during their first meeting in February 2002, you have all been my second family, and the Association has been, and remains, one of my great passions. I am hesitant to try thanking individuals, because I don’t want to leave anyone out. However, there are several people who I absolutely have to mention here because your constant support has been essential to my seven years in this position.
To my loving wife, Michele, and my kids (Sarah and Juan, Samantha and Tristan, Andy and Alison, and Anita and Cameron) - I cannot even begin to thank you all for your love and support. And keep those grandchildren coming - Grandpa will have a lot more time to spend on his free babysitting service in a few more days.
To the folks at Cohn Communications - thank you so much for being such a great team! Lord knows you all made my job so much easier than it should have been. Tom Cohn, thanks for being such a great boss. We had our disagreements from time to time, but you always listened and never once told me it had to be your way. And you encouraged me to do my job as the Executive Committee and the Board wanted me to do it. And to Rebekah Covay, you rock and I have loved every minute that I have worked with you over these past many years.
To the Association Presidents I worked with during my seven years as ED, Sarah Jenkinson, Kate Brady, Cynthia Carter and Gary Erickson - mere words cannot express how grateful I am for what you all have contributed to the success of DPHA, and you all will continue to hold a special place in my heart. And to Ryan Paul (the incoming President), just know how jealous I am that I will not be working with you as a staff member, but as a member of the Association you most definitely have my support.
To the Council of Fellows, Board of Directors, Committee Co-Chairpersons and Committee members (both now and in the past) - you are all truly the driving force of the Association, so please keep up the great work. And thanks to everyone for not only giving me the opportunity to work with you, but allowing me to voice my opinion from time to time not as staff, but as someone who loves the Association and has been there since its beginning.
Most importantly though, I want to thank each and every member of the Association for your enthusiastic support throughout the years. As I often relate when talking about how special DPHA is - people who participate in our annual conferences, especially first time attendees, often comment on the "sense of family" that pervades the Association. Although that seems to have always been the case, that sense of family was never more apparent to me than during 2018 when I had some rather “concerning” health issues. It was a tough year, but my DPHA family was always there for me, and I cannot begin to express my gratitude to all of you for your love and support. Whether it was a phone call, email or text message, it seemed that someone was contacting me almost every day - asking how I was doing, seeing if there was anything they could do for me or just trying to make sure I kept my spirits up. It is impossible to tell you how much this helped, but rest assured, it most certainly did.
So that’s it. Thanks for indulging me as I have tried to navigate my way through this final, and unexpectedly difficult, writing. As I said, it has been my honor and privilege to serve as your Executive Director for the past 7 years, and even though I won’t be around as part of the management team any more, I will once again be taking on one of my favorite roles - that of a DPHA member. Thanks for a great ride, everyone, and I hope to see you in Seattle!
Gratefully, Jim Babbitt
P.S. Going forward, if you want to contact me via email, feel free to use my personal email address of “firstname.lastname@example.org”.