Dear Fellow Staff—

For the past ten months, I have been dutiful in trying to keep our staff and supporters up-to-date on our COVID-19 issues, as well as the incredible progress we as an organization have made in maintaining our programs and services to our clients and students. It feels a little bittersweet, but this will be my final CEO update. In place of these weekly updates, we are going back to our monthly NCIA Gazette newsletters. I will certainly be communicating through those, and Stephen Cooke, our Communications Specialist, will be editing those publications. He will be reaching out for interesting articles, success stories and other NCIA updates on a regular basis. Look for our next NCIA Gazette towards the end of this month.

Through these updates, I have tried to accomplish a number of things. First and foremost was to keep everyone updated about our battle with this deadly virus. Nobody asked for COVID-19, yet suddenly it was upon us. In life, there are times when we choose our challenges and others where our challenges choose us. That was the case with COVID. To me, information is knowledge, and the more we were informed the better off we were.

Second, these updates were used to continually urge everyone to follow NCIA’s “Safe In All Settings” protocols. These were developed very early on in this pandemic, were continually updated and became a model for our industry. We are truly fortunate to have our Compliance and Communications Departments working as a team to give us up-to-date guidance and information. We realized that we might not be able to control all of our circumstances, but we could control how we responded to them.

A third purpose of these updates has been to keep everyone current on the state of our various programs. Not being able to interact in person created a lot of challenges, and I felt it important that all staff knew the herculean efforts of each program to continue service to all of our clients. It is simply amazing that NCIA was able to keep every program operational. As an organization, we invested in technology, data plans and remote learning platforms to assist each program in fulfilling its mission. From the beginning, every department received the necessary PPE to protect their staff and individuals. It was important to me to continue to inform all staff of our weekly efforts and progress.

The final purpose of my weekly CEO updates was to let all of you know how valued you are to our success, and to hopefully keep everyone motivated during this difficult time. Themes like resilience, perseverance and patience were regularly repeated as we navigated through this dark period. We all faced personal, professional and emotional challenges, but we got through them together, and we will be stronger for it.

This is not to suggest that the pandemic is over. In Maryland we are still averaging 1,000 cases per day and we should continue to wear our masks, follow social distancing protocols and wash our hands regularly. However, given the number of staff and individuals who received vaccinations, and the reduction of incidents throughout our programs, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. So we must continue our progress and stay safe.

In closing out my weekly updates, they were always signed with the phrase “With Continuing Gratitude”. This was purposeful. I remember well one of my favorite quotes:

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

So thank you to those who have read these updates and be on the lookout for our NCIA Gazette publications. Remember, my door is always open, and my emails are always read.  Stay safe.