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Partnering for a Cause

By: Tom Bigford

It’s been a busy couple weeks for me as I pursue new relationships for TCS, with an eye toward strategic partnerships with some of our more prominent partners. That sounds fuzzy but the intent is clear. Our mission is to address emerging coastal issues by fostering dialogue, forging partnerships, and promoting communications and education. HGK-Photo-1401
Since Matt Nixon relieved me of my duties as TCS President, I have shifted my energies to pursuing existing or new partners who share our vision. Here are some of the doors I opened this month (with help from many others):

  • Social Coast Forum 2016 – I had the honor of moderating the closing plenary session on “It Ain’t All Bad: Promising Programs and Techniques to Address Changing Ocean Conditions.” Thanks to Matt Nixon for organizing the session and the ~30 TCSers I passed in the halls of the Hotel Francis Marion in Charleston, SC. I plan to contact each registrant as we discuss possible roles for TCS in the social science realm.
  • Coastal States Organization Winter Membership meeting in Washington, DC – Attending this event was a nice bonus since I had to bow out of my planned trip to the CSO fall meeting last September in Florida. CSO Executive Director Mary Munson was especially gracious, offering me time to open their meeting with a few words about TCS, our history in coastal communications, and commitment to nurturing young professionals. I plan to write these attendees, too, as TCS needs to have a stronger connection to the state coastal leaders.HGK-Photo-1517
  • National Estuarine Research Reserves Association meeting in Washington, DCThanks to TCS Director Erika Washburn for her help in explaining how TCS interests intersect with this program, a place-based subset of coastal management. The reserve community is revisiting how it communicates and partners with others so it was nice for TCS to be present and engaged.
  • American Shore and Beach Preservation Association – I met with their new Executive Director last summer and followed up by attending portions of their annual meeting. This presented another opportunity to talk about shared interests, especially right on the sandy interface between our upland and seaward interests. Attendees included some familiar faces but also some new friends. We can expect to see ASBPA at the RAE-TCS Summit in New Orleans.
  • HGK-Photo-1449Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation – CERF just welcomed a new Executive Director (Susan Park), along with their new President (Robert Twilley) from last fall. Wearing my TCS hat (nice, from Zazzle; see our website for info) and my American Fisheries Society hat (my employer), CERF invited me to help them shape what might be a policy effort that extends beyond research and toward our arena. These discussions could lead to partnerships down the road, building on our work with the CERF society and their New England affiliate in 2015.
  • Water Environment Fund – This huge group focuses on water delivery, infrastructure, quality, quantity, and more. They are developing an increasing interest on coastal issues. Thanks largely to efforts by TCS Treasurer Mo Lynch and TCS Director Lewie Lawrence, I have had several calls with their Executive Director, President, and senior staff. We’ll meet again soon. I have high hopes WEF will get involved in the 2016 Summit and perhaps other TCS activities.

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So I’m keeping busy with TCS work, and would love to hear from you about opportunities with these groups or other partners to approach.

Note, I didn’t even mention the Coastal Career Day event in Beaufort, NC on March 5 – I’ll leave that to my TCS colleagues who are leading the way on that event. I hope to see many of you there!

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