We take a look at the North Texas Purchasing & Supply Management ASBO Affiliate (NTPSM), who organized the Educational Purchasing Cooperative of North Texas.
The North Texas Purchasing and Supply Management (NTPSM) affiliate is quite a unique affiliate, according to president Lucia Cieszlak. It was established in 2003 by purchasing officials in Education Service Center Regions 10 and 11 to engage and collaborate professionally — and to share procedures and opportunities for purchasing goods and services. To achieve this latter goal, NTPSM ended up spawning a separate organization, the Educational Purchasing Cooperative of North Texas.
Affiliate Ins and Outs
The purchasing cooperative membership is limited to purchasing officials in Regions 10 and 11, but membership in NTPSM is free and open to any K-12 employee, nonprofit employees, higher education faculty and staff, ESC employees and state governmental entity staff, with no locale restrictions, says Cieszlak, who is director of purchasing for Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD west of Fort Worth. In addition, the affiliate has honorary life memberships for retired members and associate memberships for independent contractors and for-profit entities.
The affiliate holds two meetings per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Each meeting includes regular business discussions plus a presentation from a subject matter expert on issues affecting school district procurement.
Regional Challenges (and Strengths)
Given the prime benefit of bid and procurement knowledge that members receive, the NTPSM is a sought-out organization by district purchasing professionals. “Many of the members are seasoned procurement officers, involved in TASBO as trainers and mentors, who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with the members,” says Cieszlak, who has been a TASBO member for 27 years and in the NTPSM/EPCNT for 21 years.
Members can also use the NTPSM/EPCNT Communities forum for information exchange, bid searches and general procurement advice. On a personal level, Cieszlak adds that being involved with the affiliate has helped her grow professionally and personally. “Involvement in an affiliate gives you the opportunity to stay abreast of the changes that affect our profession, network with peers and simply get to know wonderful individuals that share your professional interests,” she says.
As with other affiliates, COVID-19 has presented certain challenges, particularly in the switch from in-person meetings to virtual ones. The fall 2020 meeting was held online after the affiliate’s bylaws were adjusted to allow for virtual meetings. But, Cieszlak notes, “attendance to the virtual meeting was no different than to the in-person meetings [around 70 participants].”
The NTPSM covers a broad area of North Texas so in discussing what makes the region so great, Cieszlak decided to keep it more local with a focus on the Metroplex and in particular her home of Fort Worth. “North Texas offers a variety of attractions for those traveling this way,” she says, “from the Western culture in the Fort Worth Stockyards to the metropolitan attractions such as renowned museums in both Dallas and Fort Worth.”
Her recommendations include Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth and the city’s popular shopping and dining scene on West 7th Street. “For looking for nature, the Botanical Garden and the Trinity River trails in Fort Worth, the Arboretum in Dallas and the zoos in both cities offer much entertainment,” she says.
For sports fans, Arlington is the place to be, with AT&T Stadium and the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field. There are also plenty of area lakes for visitors to enjoy, particularly to cool off during the summer.