Dear TLTA members,
July 15, 2020 is a date I will remember with satisfaction, honor and joy for many years to come. On that day, our Immediate Past President Mike Savas passed the gavel, and I became the 106th President of the Texas Land Title Association.
As my time to serve as president of this organization approached, I looked back at the list of past presidents and imagined how it was for them when they took office. J.C. Crisp was TLTA’s first president, serving from 1908-1910 – a time when the automobile was hi-tech and movies were accompanied by piano music played from the front of the theater. Since Crisp’s presidency, 104 fine men and women have accepted the challenge and agreed to serve as president of one of the most effective and well-respected trade associations in Texas. I am humbled and honored to serve as TLTA’s 106th president and to one day have my name appear in the list of past presidents alongside notables like Massey, Rattikin, Yates and Morris – leaders who helped shape our title insurance industry into what it is today.
Many of our past presidents faced difficulties during their terms, not unlike today. Mike Savas’ service advanced as planned last summer and through the fall of 2019, but in March 2020 the world hit pause, and the plans he made had to change. Mike worked tirelessly with TLTA staff to address the daily challenges our industry faced under COVID-19. Under his watch we experienced declaration of a national emergency, state disaster declarations, shelter in place orders, school closures, social distancing requirements and mandatory business closures. Mike’s incredible leadership kept TLTA and the Texas title insurance industry moving in the right direction, securing our industry’s essential business status and shepherding the temporary use of remote ink notarization (RIN) to keep our industry’s professionals and Texas consumers safe via socially distanced A/V closings. Thank you, Mike, for leading us through these troubling times. I would also like to recognize the good work of our outgoing board of directors, committee chairs and committee members who gave their time and effort to our association last year – thank you.
As I said during our 2020 Virtual Annual Conference, I am proud of all our title industry professionals who are digging deep to keep the Texas real estate economy alive during these unprecedented times. Your innovation and determination are enabling the uninterrupted flow of closings during this pandemic. Working in new ways with existing RON and mobile notary services to conduct non-contact closings, figuring out how to socially distance in the closing room, conducting “drive-thru” closings, and other modifications kept closings on track for Texans statewide. Congratulations to all escrow personnel who were awarded the 2020 James H. Garst President’s Award for their front-line service – an honor earned.
A special thanks belongs to our association staff at TLTA. Each and every member of our team should be complimented for the spectacular work they are doing every day on our behalf. Kudos to them, too, for producing a wildly successful virtual conference – which was built from scratch in a matter of weeks. TLTA staff has, to say the least, performed magnificently as we navigate these troubling public health protocols disrupting the marketplace.
Looking ahead to upcoming challenges and opportunities, TLTA is working diligently to virtualize our 2020 Land Title School. Like our annual conference, an in-person Land Title School just isn’t in the cards this year. However, the virtual platforms and lessons learned during the development of our virtual conference will undoubtedly produce a first-class experience for virtual Land Title School students. Importantly, this year’s virtual program includes the same great faculty and curriculum as the traditional program, and the sessions are strategically scheduled to make room for work and family obligations. If you or other professionals in your network need to learn industry basics or prepare to move to another role in your organization, now’s the time to register and secure a seat.
The Texas Legislature will convene in January 2021. I will work closely with Aaron Day, TLTA staff and our lobby team to address issues that arise during session. While we don’t foresee controversy for our industry when legislators gather in Austin in less than six months, we must always be vigilant and watch for bills that could have a negative effect on the title insurance industry or real estate industry as a whole. If you have not already done so, please consider supporting your TLTAPAC with a financial contribution now. Understandably, due to COVID-19, our fundraising has been thrown off track, and this is not the session to let up. Lawmakers are wrestling with how to conduct their legislative business under COVID-19 public health protocols, and the safety precautions being discussed could limit use of the communication channels through which we shared our industry priorities in sessions past. When you support your PAC today, you’re equipping our industry to maintain healthy lines of communication with legislators – the key to protecting and strengthening our regulated industry.
In keeping with our recent message about shared values and our industry’s commitment to inclusivity, we’ll continue our first steps this year by strategically focusing on outreach and recruitment, which will ensure that our ranks of involved, volunteer leaders reflect the diversity within our industry. Making sure all our voices are heard at the table is the key to growing and improving our industry – an innovation we cannot afford to miss.
Also, TLTA volunteer and committee work is ramping up again, and there’s a lot of work to do this year. Beginning in August, virtual committee meetings will begin and our committee volunteers will be called back into action. Each committee will face its own set of challenges, but I’m confident that we will find solutions to any issues brought before us. We welcome back all committee members serving again, as well as new committee members and other volunteers serving for the first time. If you have not signed up for a committee or other volunteer assignment, there is still time. Please reach out to Kim Schoppert via firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
As the 106th president of TLTA, I am eager and committed to carry on the legacy of TLTA presidents who came before me. Thank you for this opportunity – I look forward to a successful year.
John P. Bruce, CTIP
Texas Land Title Association