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September 21, 2021 From the Chair

Accomplishments to Celebrate in a Difficult Year

By Joan C. Arnold, Troutman Pepper, Philadelphia, PA

At times the year of the pandemic seemed interminable………

And yet, how fast the last twelve months have gone! This time last year I was taking over as the Chair of the Tax Section, stepping in after we had the very first cancellation of our signature May Meeting, knowing that our Fall Meeting would also need to take place remotely. Our intrepid staff of meeting planners, CLE directors, registrars, managers, and other staff took it upon themselves to figure out how best to serve our members while keeping the Section on a reasonable economic footing. With their vision, we pivoted the Fall Meeting to a fully virtual meeting, resulting in attendance that exceeded our typical Fall Meeting by over 500 attendees! The Section had similar success at the virtual Midyear Meeting. Even the May Meeting, always the most heavily attended in person, was a close race to see if we would have more members in person or virtually. We produced the meetings and all the other activities for the Section within the budget we had set long before we knew we’d be all virtual, all year. To the directors and managers and staff who made it happen—you have my eternal thanks.

We have taken these results to heart and are looking seriously at how we should re-imagine our meetings and our member benefits for the future. Much of the benefit from membership in the Section stems from the personal relationships developed through in-person meetings. So we are looking forward to returning to them as soon as possible while also considering how to maintain the outreach to Section members and government officials who cannot otherwise attend in person. We are hoping that technology catches up with our goals soon! You’ll hear more about this in the future.

As I came into my year as Chair–elect, I had a very significant goal of creating a welcoming home and support center for women in the tax bar. I envisioned the Section providing more than substantive programming—ideally, something that would assist a woman in professional development while at the same time providing a community to support her and a context in which she could grow. I had the great fortune to be the representative of more senior attorneys on a Young Lawyers panel with Heather Fincher, who shared her views for creating just such an environment. The Women in Tax Forum was born. Heather has had the support of a leadership team comprised of Sarah Ma, Lauren Azubu and Brie Siciliano. They have—in less than two years and in the midst of a pandemic and virtual meetings—created an incredibly vibrant organization that is a high water mark as the Section moves forward with the creation of other affinity groups to increase its diversity and inclusiveness. Thanks so much to the four of you.

As I complete my term, I am extremely pleased to know that Julie Divola steps into the leadership position. It will be a joy to see her accomplishments, and I’ll be happy to support her to the best of my abilities.

I hope members will continue to let us know what the Section can do better for you. I encourage you to reach out and get involved in any way you can. It is a rewarding part of a tax career.

I wish you the best as the nation tries to transition back to a more normal life. I especially look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in person in January.