The United States Society on Dams (USSD) is dedicated to advancing the role of dam and levee systems and building the community of practice.  As the United States member of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), USSD provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences and is charged with leading the profession of dam and levee engineering.

USSD is led by a Board of Directors representing all sectors of the industry, including consultants, contractors, owners, and academia.  USSD members are encouraged to actively participate in committees which work to address current technical issues for dam and levee engineering.

President's Message

Presidents message Spring 2020 

Although we “may want the world to be knowable and controllable, that’s simply not how it works.”[1] Many events in the 21st century have proven that to be true including the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has certainly strained many non-profit and for-profit organizations and unfortunately, some to the breaking point. While the cancellation of our annual conference and exhibition impacted USSD’s financial situation, our organization is stable. This is due to the relatively strong position we were in at the start of the year because of fundamental changes USSD’s Executive Director and Board of Directors made over the past few years to reduce costs, implement a yearly business plan, and improve our organization’s financial management system and investment portfolio. USSD is prepared to continue to provide excellent service and outstanding educational opportunities to you, our members. Our Executive Director, Sharon Powers, continues to monitor potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and is working closely with Elena Sossenkina, 2020 Conference Technical Planning Chair, to identify opportunities to present some portions of the developed technical content.

To further strengthen our organization and ensure we can weather the next uncontrollable unknown, the Board has invested significant time over the past half-year to update our Strategic Plan. The updated Plan will serve as our roadmap over the next several years as we seek to fulfill our Mission, why we exist, achieve our Vision, an ideal future, and live our Values, virtues that guide our behaviors. We identified four important Domains, priorities, where USSD will commit resources to insure we are focused and organized to do the work today that will support our mission and vision. The current Domains are a refinement of the previous Imperatives. We drilled down further and identified four Objectives to guide our decision making and help ensure all activities and programs are aligned with our Mission.

USSD’s MissionEmpower professionals to advance sustainable benefits of dams and levees for society.

USSD’s Vision – A world where all dams and levees are safe and valued by the communities they serve.

Implementing our new strategic plan is vital to the continued growth and success of our organization, and the Board remains eager to unveil it. We planned to hold a Town Hall meeting in Denver for that purpose but a Plan B was needed and it allows Sharon and I to host a number of smaller virtual meetings during the spring with select groups of leaders from throughout our organization. The purpose of the meetings is to receive input on the Strategies to help USSD meet our Objectives and the Metrics to measure our progress. Strategic planning doesn’t end when the plan is written and distributed. The Board will routinely review our organizational performance based on the identified metrics and refine the strategies to better achieve our objectives.

At the Board’s recent virtual spring meeting, we elected Del Shannon to serve as Vice-President. In this role Del will work closely with the Technical Committees. We also elected Paul Meeks to serve as Secretary/Treasurer. Paul’s business management acumen will serve our organization well as we continue to navigate these trying financial times.


[1] Roger Martin, Harvard Business Review — The Big Lie of Strategic Planning