By Chris McGee
General Counsel, Virginia529
November 23, 2015
When asked to produce something around Thanksgiving, penning a list of “Thankful–fors” will always be avoided by the stylish and gifted writer. As I am neither, here is my list of professional blessings:
I am thankful for our mission. By some miracle of career trajectory, evidencing to me some proof of the divine, I find myself a part of a very worthwhile, even noble venture. Higher education is quite simply one of the most reliable ways to ensure that our children live happier, more productive lives. We all know that college graduates have higher earnings and lower rates of unemployment and poverty. They are also more likely to have career-track jobs and live independently. Being part of a program that helps more families provide this opportunity for their sons and daughters has been for me an enduring source of deep personal satisfaction.
I am thankful for us. We sometimes discuss things until the issue itself cries for mercy, we run through seemingly unending drafts of position papers in pursuit of consensus, and we can even quibble from time to time; but the 529 community is the most collaborative and hard working group that I’ve known. All of us have day jobs but somehow we still manage to throw together an impromptu national conference on ABLE, pound out comment letters on the issues du jour, and head up to the Hill to ensure our positions are heard. We also are just so nice to one another. I noticed this on my first conference call and it is confirmed every time I see the multiple responses to another plan’s request for help. True, my background is litigation and investment banking so my perspective may be warped a bit, but I think we are all in fairly rarified air here.
Finally, I’m thankful for our future. We are still a new industry with all the accompanying opportunities and challenges that status provides. Many Americans still have not heard of us; companies must be convinced to offer 529s to their employees; statutory fixes need to be persuasively argued; and let’s not forget about those proposed regulations. In addition, many of us are being asked to create and run ABLE programs. In short, a very healthy To-Do list but as Theodore Roosevelt said “far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing”.
My very best wishes for a happy and filling Thanksgiving.