Hello #FINFam, 

We’ve had an exciting start to the 2022-2023 FIRST season. This is the first year FIRST Indiana Robotics has run all three programs fully in-person, it’s our fifth season of FTC League Play, and our ninth year in the FRC District Model of competition. FIN has a strong season laid out ahead of us, excellent board engagement, quality advocacy work, an awesome team of volunteers and staff, and some exciting plans for our upcoming competitions. 

Post-COVID, everything is going great… But where’s the fun in that? It’s time to stretch out my throwing arm and grab a wrench to shake things up! (/s – This is my attempt at Sarcasm, those who know me well, or even those who don’t know me well, understand my ability to use sarcasm is a work in progress- and now you know too). 

I moved to Indiana in July of 2013 and was a FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA with (what was then called) IndianaFIRST, Inc. My time as a member of the #FINFam shaped me into the leader I am today. This robotics community provided me with invaluable life mentors, an opportunity to create my dream career, the ability to expand my education, and a safe space to try new things, fail, start over, and ultimately thrive in my role as a leader. With the better part of a decade in the rearview mirror as a member of the #FINFam, it is time for me to transition out of my role as President of FIRST Indiana Robotics. 

As you process those words, some context may be helpful. As COVID helped us discover, our current technology has made it possible to work remotely or from a home office while still being collaborative. In February of 2021, my husband, Danny, and I moved back to Wisconsin to live closer to our families – our nephews and niece just kept getting taller and we lived too far away to attend socially distanced family celebrations in 2020. I was able to continue my work with FIN remotely, while finishing my Master’s, and my daughter, Amelia, was due to arrive in the fall. If you recall, she arrived unexpectedly early on July 31st and spent a number of weeks in the NICU. With some follow-up physical and occupational therapy, support from family, and a Grandpa Nanny who does Tai Chi and has a great understanding of body mechanics, Amelia is doing absolutely fantastic and you wouldn’t be able to tell she was born eight weeks early. 

For this past season, I was limited on the events I was able to attend with a newborn in the house. As the ever shifting landscape of in-person events continued to change, I would travel to in-person events as needed – sometimes with Amelia and sometimes without. As in-person networking has become more popular, Amelia has gotten older, and traveling has increased, it has become a challenge to find a balance between this career that I love, people I enjoy working with, this mission that I’m passionate about, and the really cool kiddo and family I want to spend time with. 

This leads us to this transition!

Both the Board of Directors and myself are on the same page and committed to having a positive transition over this next season. We wanted to make sure our #FINFam community was aware of these upcoming changes and included in the process of finding the next President of FIRST Indiana Robotics. I will be continuing in my full-time role as President of FIRST Indiana Robotics through the winter and will eventually move to part-time before transitioning out at the end of the fiscal year. Logan Byers, Chairman of the FIRST Indiana Robotics Board of Directors, will provide monthly updates to the community regarding this transition, the search for the new President, and ways you can help. My next adventure allows me to stay close to home and leverages my passion for increasing access to the FIRST program. Over the course of this next season I’ll gradually transition to the role of President of FIRST Wisconsin Robotics and I’m grateful for both the opportunity to remain engaged with the FIRST program and for the gradual transition to set both organizations up for success.  

While I wouldn’t officially say I’m a full-blown Hoosier (I’m still a diehard Packers, Bucks, Badgers, & Brewers fan), I am and always will be a part of the #FINFam. 

Renee Becker-Blau