January 10, 2020
By Susan M. Redford, TAC Executive Director
January is a time for exciting new beginnings. Last year, TAC resolved to accomplish many things over a two-year timeframe, and I am delighted to say we continue to make excellent progress.
Last fall, TAC's Board of Director approved the hiring a Chief Financial Officer. We have received more than 100 applications for the position and hope to extend an offer by the end of the first quarter. The CFO will head up a newly reorganized Administrative Services Department that includes Finance Services, formerly known as Accounting, and will oversee other divisions that manage TAC assets and investments. This move will be instrumental in the creation of a plan for our continued financial stability — one of our seven strategic goals.
This month, we have also created a new Membership and Strategic Services Department under Director Lisa Garcia. Lisa will oversee divisions such Education Services, the County Information Resources Agency and Information Technology Services with the goal of maximizing their strategic capabilities to better serve our members.
I am also excited to announce that I have appointed Michael Pichinson, former associate general counsel and Legislative Services Director, as our new General Counsel. The very capable and experienced Noe Barrios, Senior Legislative Manager, replaces Michael as Legislative Services Director. I truly believe that their working relationship will enhance the working relationship and collaboration between the two departments. Both are critical as we prepare for the next legislative session.
January has also been bittersweet. Longtime Communication and Education Services Director Leah Magnus retired this month, ending a distinguished 27-year career with TAC. As many of you know, Leah played an instrumental role in developing a best-in-class education program for our members that has been praised and emulated by her industry peers. We will miss Leah's wisdom and sound judgment, and her irreplaceable institutional knowledge. We wish her the best in this new chapter of her life!
As the March 3 Texas primary election approaches, I would like to highlight our County Elections Database, which houses unofficial local election results that are easily searchable. This one-stop resource for counties, the public and news media is made possible through the support of election administrators and county clerks statewide. Your county can submit primary, runoff and general elections data online, via email or fax. Visit www.county.org/elections to learn more. You can also share this link with news media. Note that this tool is only for local races — it doesn't track state and federal races.
Cybersecurity is the watchword as we start a new year — cyberattacks are on the rise, and hackers are increasingly targeting local government in an attempt to trick county officials into giving up taxpayers' private data. A new state law requires county officials and their employees to take a state-certified cybersecurity course by June. TAC now offers a free, certified course to Texas counties. See this issue of County magazine for more information about how to sign up for this required course.
Every two years, TAC recognizes the efforts of county leaders to create new, efficient and effective solutions to challenges facing local governments. March 31 is the deadline to nominate your county's innovative program or service for the 2020 County Best Practices Awards. Learn more about the program and find the nomination form on our website at www.county.org/bestpractices.
It looks like 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year for TAC and our members! Thank you being 254 Strong all year!