Thought Leadership Thursday
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
We hear comments that allude to communication every day: "Listen to me," "Talk it over," and "Hear me out." Clearly, communication is the key to success. So, like other public officials, State Treasurers and our staffs have faced a significant challenge since March 2020. We had a lot of people to talk to about a lot of important work, but making those connections suddenly posed a problem. The ease of walking into someone’s office for a conversation was gone. Having a phone conversation became more demanding because so few people were actually sitting by the phone in their offices. The pandemic changed the way we handled a lot of things and how we told people about them.
The early part of 2020 had us moving full speed ahead in Delaware. In addition to our typical responsibilities, we were finalizing details for hosting a regional seminar examining how to incorporate a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices as criteria for investing; we were in talks with AARP Delaware and national experts as we worked to put together legislation that would create a secure choice retirement program for Delawareans; and we were in the process of consolidating our general banking services in order to optimize efficiency, data security and consistency. And then on March 13th (a Friday by some cruel coincidence), we turned off the lights and went home. For a long time.
I often use the word "pivot" when talking about the last 15 months. We pivoted with regard to doing our daily work and pivoted with regard to staffing the office for essential needs. We pivoted yet quickly realized that our staff didn’t miss a beat. Deposits were made, employees were paid, investment accounts were managed. I’m proud to say the Office of the State Treasurer in Delaware continued to function as well as it always had except in one area. But our hands were tied with regard to outreach. We couldn’t go into schools to conduct Bank at School programs. Gone was the Autism Delaware fundraising walk where we promoted our ABLE program, and there was no on-court baby race at the University of Delaware basketball game used to promote our DE 529 Plan. So, it was time to pivot again.
In September, "Treasury Talks" was born. A no-frills series of video interviews in which I talk with people from around the state and around the country about financial related information that relates to everyone. The interviews are posted on our webpage and shared on our social media channels. We’ve talked to state lawmakers, community advocates, ABLE account holders, and retirement experts to name a few. I had the honor of speaking with our Governor, as well as our former Governor who also served as our State Treasurer. Our Director of Communications Carl Kanefsky tapped his previous work experience in television production and video editing and combined it with a crash course in recording and processing online conversations in order to produce more than two dozen episodes to date. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I loved speaking with Lisa Embert, the Director of our Division of Reconciliation and Transaction Management about her almost 25 years in the office, and my Deputy Treasurer Liza Davis about her current role involving the distribution from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the state’s non-entitlement municipalities.
I also had the opportunity to share the great work of NAST. Executive Director Shaun Snyder spoke about how the association works to assist State Treasurers, and immediate past president Deborah Goldberg, State Treasurer of Massachusetts explained how she employs a family philosophy in serving her constituents and working with employees. Finally, I had the honor to spend time with Kelly Mitchell, State Treasurer of Indiana, and current President of NAST. I invite you to watch that interview and hear Treasurer Mitchell’s take on how her duties differ from those of her colleagues in other states, as well as how she’s working with her counterparts across the country as the head of NAST.
Colleen C. Davis