This Sunday marks an inauspicious anniversary. On that day two years ago, the Coalition team shifted to virtual operations in response to the pandemic. Like other organizations and the Federal government, the Coalition did its part to safeguard its staff and members to mitigate the spread of the virus.

In no way was this decision made lightly, as our platform for the delivery of highly valued business intelligence and stakeholder engagement, to a significant degree, leveraged in-person activities via events and meetings at the facilities of our members. The Coalition responded nimbly, leveraging the power of our business tools, like Microsoft Teams, to collaborate effectively and maintain the continuity of services and products, like the Friday Flash and the Tuesday Tracker. In-person committee meetings yielded to on-line video calls, and our signature spring and fall conferences were held virtually, with breakout sessions, panels, keynotes, and the opportunity for heightened member engagement. A testament to the Coalition’s successful management of the pandemic is the fact that membership engagement exploded, and only two signature events, the Spring Training Conference and the Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Charity Golf Tournament, were canceled in 2020, as we wrestled with the uncertainties of the virus at that time.

We mention the foregoing not to pat ourselves on the back, but to highlight the fact none of us were immune to the unique challenges caused by the pandemic. The pandemic pushed all of us to persevere, to innovate, to leave our comfort zones, not only to survive, but also to serve as positive actors supporting our respective communities. By so doing, we all had an exponential impact on the country.  By way of example, the Coalition supported its members; member companies supported the Government; and most importantly, the Government maintained continuity of support and mission critical services to our fellow citizens. It is a level of service of which we all can be proud.

This story, however, does not end with the work everyone has done. Rather, it continues with a look forward to what the future may have in store for all of us. Many in industry are itching to engage with customers one-on-one to collaborate personally and in real time. It seeks to stand side-by-side with its Government colleagues working to implement the programs that will help meet citizen needs, supply our warfighters, and bring to bear the technology, products and services needed to promote our national security. With the reduction in COVID-19 cases and the corresponding decrease in mandates, we are optimistic that change is in the air.

On a final note, during the pandemic, readers of the blog may remember our occasional Reflections from the Porch (or basement), where the Coalition’s unofficial mascot, Larry “Bird” Waldron, supported the updates to the member community by providing a calming influence during what otherwise were challenging circumstances. A loyal dog committed to caring for others, Larry remained within reach for the duration of my remote work activity and seemed to relish the continuous presence of others around him.  As we were approaching the cusp of the change to normalcy from the depths of the pandemic, we had thought Larry would be able to enjoy with us the world opening again, notwithstanding the fact that he was 16 years old (or 112 dog years). Sadly, that was not to be. This past weekend, Larry passed on, literally in the arms of the family for whom he cared since he was a puppy. A beloved member of the family, he made the pandemic and each day so much brighter, and he is missed.