February 9, 2003
This year of accomplishments has been made possible by the efforts of previous boards that worked closely with Clarke Association Services Inc. to set up firm organizational support and financial systems. This has meant that the current executive board has been able to build on the hard work of the last two years, which laid the groundwork for this stability. The years of turmoil are over, and the board can now face the task of meeting the objectives of the Strategic Plan.
We have made progress in making our organizational structure meet our current needs as well as the needs of the future, but more work needs to be done. I am sure that we will be able to accomplish this under the leadership of incoming president, Allen Townsend. The board began the process of reorganizing the Society by eliminating many ad-hoc committees that had been in existence for years, or that no longer had specific and timely charges. The board has begun establishing task forces with more specific charges and deadlines in order to meet the needs of the members and to improve communication. We have begun a society-wide discussion of our organization into Divisions, Sections, and Round Tables and will continue this at the annual membership meeting. Your input will help the board determine what to do when it meets at its mid-year meeting. By the end of 2003 we will have the structure needed to respond quickly to the ever more rapidly changing needs of our members and profession. The new system for holding elections resulted in an excellent incoming board, one that is perhaps more representative of all areas of our organization and all types of members than ever before. It will be the ideal group to make these important decisions.
After another successful conference in St. Louis we are on firm financial footing, the fruit of which has been our ability to fund the Speakers Fund and use income to help support bringing guest speakers to the conference, and to make service on the board less financially onerous While finances are sound, we still depend too much on the financial success of the annual conference. Our conferences are always intellectual and socially successful, but they should not have to bear responsibility for funding all of our activities throughout the year. The formation of The Society Circle as a group of annual donors is another step towards establishing dependable sources of income beyond our conference and membership income.
Executive Board Action Items
Our relationship with Clarke Association Services Inc. continues to be excellent. Elizabeth Clarke and her staff, Susan Rawlyk, Bonnie James, and Vicky Roper, continue to supply the service and advice we require and have come to expect. They must be relieved that our relationship has settled down after three years of transition; my only regret is that because things ran so smoothly I did not need to speak with them more often. The board reviewed a proposal to renew our contract for three more years at our mid-year meeting, and after having had the Society’s legal counsel review it, will vote on it at the pre-conference board meeting.
It is still too early to report on the financial success of the conference, but it is clear that the program, tours, and events that the local committee, co-chaired by Linda Tompkins-Baldwin and Joan Stahl, will be a model for future conferences. We have also reorganized the Conference Planning Advisory Committee by replacing the regional representative who previously had been a member of the committee (but who might not live anywhere near the conference site) with the local chapter chair. The extra experience that Clarke Associate Services Inc. has had with our group has made their involvement in planning and executing the conference even more efficient and useful. This year their efforts allowed us to add on-line registration for exhibitors.
The website has continued to thrive under the stewardship of Jonathan Franklin, website editor, and Derek Crosley, Webmaster. A members-only section has been added to respond to concerns about privacy; this has allowed us to mount a current directory of members for the first time in years. There will also be a board-only section to facilitate discussion among the executive board.
It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as president. The honor comes from being entrusted to lead such a dedicated group of professionals. The pleasure comes from getting to know many colleagues much better by seeing how hard they work to make ARLIS/NA such a great organization. I have been extremely fortunate to work with such a dedicated board. If I had any complaint, it would be that they were so easy-going and effective I occasionally worried why there wasn’t more controversy. Ursula Kolmstetter and Laurie Whitehill Chong, Midwest and Northeast regional representative respectively, have been models of following through with their liaison duties, and in representing the views of all members. Laura Schwartz, South regional representative, who stepped in to fill the term of Paula Hardin, made a seamless transition and immediately began to contribute to our discussions at the mid-year board meeting; I am glad she will continue to serve on the board, filling a full term of office. Norine Duncan, secretary, and master parliamentarian, has been so quietly efficient that one might think that tracking the minutes and motions of this hyperactive group is simple. (If we have any fault, it is that we are much better at coming up with action items--142 this year--than assessing the reality of accomplishing them all as well as continuing to work at daytime jobs.)
Finally, I could not have done it without the help, advice, and amazing institutional memory of past-president, Ted Goodman. His involvement and contributions define what the role of a past-president should be. In additional to the traditional job of editing the annual Handbook and List of Members, he edited, revised, and rewrote the Conference Planning Manual and the Policy Manual. Largely because of his efforts, which made my job so much easier, I know that I will not suffer from presidential burn-out, and hope that I can help Allen as he enters his year as president, even half as much as Ted has helped me. I look forward to serving another active year with the new members of the board, Jeanne M. Brown, vice-president/president-elect, Judith Herschman, secretary, Suzy Frechette, Midwest regional representative, and Carol H. Graney, Northeast regional representative, under Allen’s leadership.