President’s Message


September 3, 2020

Fellow GBR Chapter Members

I hope this message finds you well. For so many, the coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives both professionally and personally. 2020 has certainly brought a unique challenge for us all with the precautions of COVID-19.  This chapter year will certainly be different than any prior year due to COVID-19 precautions. The landscape around the coronavirus pandemic continues to shift rapidly and recent positive news from the state shows a decline in reported cases in Louisiana. As we show leadership in our roles, we will endure this pandemic and serve a brighter day ahead.

Our 2019/2020 Chapter year was full of successes, thus earning the chapter Platinum Level recognition from Society for our efforts. I want to thank our past president, A.J. Downing for his leadership in ensuring the Chapter continued to deliver member value.  It was a great honor to serve as Chapter Vice President and I saw the energy required to serve as President and I am ready for the challenge ahead.

So, the time has come to officially kick off our 63rd chapter year. Wow! 63 years strong – what an accomplishment. Chapters like ours only last with extraordinary leaders and engaged members. As newly elected president, I am honored to serve a chapter with such rich and strong history. With over 450 members, it is exciting to be part of a chapter that is growing and prosperous and to witness our seasoned professionals lending experience to our new, up and coming members is very rewarding. Over the summer months, I have worked with our executive board to develop our board’s ambitious plans, setting us up for a great chapter year. Together, we have completed our responsibility of transition meetings and strategic planning and we are excited about the programs we have slated for this year. We want to continue the successes that all past presidents have left us while adding new opportunities for our chapter members to grow, delivering on our chapter’s purpose: promoting the advancement of the safety profession and safety professionals and development of our members.

Our top priority this chapter year is protecting the well-being of our chapter members. The commitment of the Executive Board is to continue providing member value, though no meeting or activity is so important that we cannot do so in a safe manner. Many of the venues we frequent for chapter meetings have placed severe restrictions on us or declined hosting us all together. So, we knew we must do something different this year to adapt and be successful. As president, I created a new position to assist the chapter in the ability to host virtual meetings. I appointed Justin Barksdale, CSP as Virtual Learning and Hosting Facilitator and he has since explored hosting chapter meetings virtually by reviewing different platforms and media options. We are excited to announce that we will host our chapter’s first virtual meeting in September. We will resume in-person meetings when possible; the decision will be based on Society guidance, any orders from state and/or local government and direction from our Chapter’s Executive Board.

I would like to update you on Executive Board and Committee Chair changes that were required for this year. As you may know, the Executive Board Delegate position was vacated when GBR member Daniel Slattery won election as Regional Vice President, Region IV and started his role effective July 1, 2020. With consensus of the Chapter’s Executive Board, I have appointed Karen Saurage, CSP, 2009-2010 Greater Baton Rouge Chapter past president and current golf tournament committee chair to the position. We are excited to have Karen on the Executive Board again. As past president Karen has worked with tough ASSP business in the past and is ready for the challenge ahead. Please join me in welcoming Karen. There has also been a shuffle in committee chair positions. The following changes have occurred: David Hernandez, CSP – Programs Chair, Dustin Kirkland – Communications Chair and Will Rosette – Membership Chair.

Unfortunate but necessary, our 20th annual golf tournament was canceled due to COVID precautions. The Golf Tournament Committee has worked with The Bluffs to host a 2021 tournament on Friday, April 16th at 11:00am. With your support, the tournament will continue to be GREAT and continue to provide funds for chapter member’s professional development and student scholarships. Thank you for your support.

We look forward to our first virtual chapter meeting Tuesday, September 29 at 11:30am. We hope that you can join us.

I look forward to a year of success.

Volunteer. Lead. Grow.

Jake A. Valenti, CSP
Greater Baton Rouge Chapter President