1. REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TOBI BRIMSEK
Good evening. Franklin Roosevelt has said that “Happiness is the joy of achievement and thrill of creative effort.” If that is the case, as you’ve heard from both the President and the Treasurer, the leadership and work of the Board, combined with the efforts of staff and coupled with the dedicated volunteerism and hard work of the membership, has created a very happy organization this year. SAA, as we all know, is an organization that is nimble, capable of facing down challenges (both short and long-term), focused, balanced, and innovative. The Board continues to make hard choices and steer us toward growth and development, either in concert with or despite the economic environment.
From staff’s perspective, this has been a year of economic challenges, sweet successes, transitions, and great anticipation. As Heraclitus has said, “Change alone is unchanging.” That is a fundamental here at SAA that has held us in good stead over many years. As you have heard, the 100 percent reserves target has been met, for now. That took 17 years. As Buddha said, “Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” It is really not about the target per se; it is about achieving a kind of fiscal stability that will enable the Society into the future. And as Henry Kissinger said, “Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem. Well, we see those problems as challenges and opportunities and are more than ready to address them.
One of the sweetest successes this year was the launch of the new submissions system, orchestrated by Cheng Zhang, manager, Information Services. Working closely with Cheng to that end was manager, Membership and Marketing, Meghan Moran. While in the coming year, Cheng will be initiating a myriad of new applications, including submissions system enhancements, an upgrade of the database management system, initiating the redevelopment of the e-commerce pages on SAAweb, the installation of Current Research Online as well as our online seminars series software, this submissions project is a major legacy project for Meghan, who will be leaving SAA shortly after this meeting. And rightly I should say that this is one of many of Meghan’s legacies from her tenure at SAA. She has set a gold standard for member service. The mantle for membership and marketing will be taken up by new manager, Russ Bahorsky, who joined the staff a week ago in time to be thrown into the annual meeting as his welcome experience to the Society. Russ has spent his time here shadowing Meghan, preparing for the transition. I hope you stop by the booth to meet him.
Another major staff transition this year was John Neikirk, manager, Publications, who left in January. Eleanor Umali has ably taken over the reins, as manager, Publications during pre-meeting madness and has ably met each challenge with confidence and expertise and an admirable unflappability. Eleanor is now gearing up for the August launch of SAA’s new digital journal, Advances in Archaeological Practice. One of Eleanor’s first projects is available here in Hawaii, a new title in the SAA Perspectives Series, from The SAA Press, Hawaii’s Past in a World of Pacific Islands by James Bayman and Thomas Dye. Stop by the SAA booth for your copy and possibly meet Eleanor as well.
From the perspective of manager, Government Affairs, David Lindsay, this has been a successful year, during which SAA continued to expand its presence in worldwide preservation issues. SAA spoke out in opposition to specific threats to the archaeological record on three continents. IGAC, the International Government Affairs Committee, was created by the Board. Domestic policies were not forgotten or subsumed, as SAA engaged in a number of federal rulemakings and legislative initiatives. One highlight of the past year was the President’s creation, under the authority of the Antiquities Act, of the Chimney Rock National Monument.
Manager, Education and Outreach, Maureen Malloy has had a year bifurcated between looking back and planning foreword. Maureen analyzed over ten years’ worth of data compiled from the public inquiries SAA receives each year. These data are being used to better serve the membership and the many public audiences served by our Education and Outreach program. Also looking forward, Maureen has been working on the development of the Online Seminar Series, a program that will be a combination of both fee-based and free online seminars, launching this fall.
And, of course, providing the cohesiveness for all of the program staff are Shelley Adams, coordinator, Financial and Administrative Services, who plays a keystone role in the transactional business of the Society and Alyssa Barnett, coordinator, Membership and Meetings, a familiar voice or recognizable email signature, as she is on the frontline of member support with Meghan Moran. This coordinator position was realigned this year, to membership and meetings rather than the previous structure of membership and marketing.
In sum, it has been a year filled with innovation, change, growth, transition, and most certainly anticipation. As much as we have done and experienced, there is so much more to come. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this organization’s amazing journey. As you know, our physical journey will take us next year to the 79th annual meeting in Austin, Texas. The call for submissions announcement will be waiting for you when you return home. I hope to see you all there. Thank you or, more appropriately here in Hawaii, Mahalo.
2. REPORT OF THE TREASURER Alex Barker
I am pleased to report that the Society for American Archaeology is in robust financial health.
The Society holds total assets of more than $5 million against liabilities of just over $1 million, with the bulk of those liabilities representing temporarily restricted revenue such as prepaid membership dues and meeting registrations.
The Society has sufficient liquid assets to meet its projected needs; the current ratio—that is, the ratio between liquid assets and near-term liabilities—is more than 2 to 1, and has increased over the year just completed.
The Society expenses and revenues are on budget, and these Hawaiian meetings have already met their budgeted targets. I anticipate that next year’s meetings in Austin will be well attended and be extremely successful, from both a programmatic and a fiscal standpoint.
SAA’s investments are well managed and for the year just completed, grew at 10.5 percent, including market gains. The Native American Scholarship Fund, for example, grew from $303,101 at the beginning of the year to $345,527 at its end. While this fund continues to grow, it does not currently generate sufficient return to fully fund the scholarships SAA awards. The strong financial health of the Society allows us to fund these scholarships from other sources, but growth of this fund is a major strategic goal for the SAA. The Investment and Finance Committee, the Fundraising Committee, and the Task Force for Endowment Planning have all provided counsel to the Board regarding strategies for the creation and growth of SAA endowments, and over the next year, we will continue actions to consolidate their growth to date and to ensure their viability for the future.
One long-standing strategic goal has been met. For the better part of two decades, the SAA has sought to build a Reserves Fund that equals one full year’s operating expenses. In September, we first reached this target, and in December, the three-month rolling average—a more conservative measure that we use to dampen the effects of market fluctuations—passed the 100 percent mark as well. That was for the year just passed, and this year the budget has increased. At these meetings, the Board of Directors has allocated surplus to the fund to ensure that it remains at 100 percent of current-year operating budgets. Reaching the Reserves goal represents a major achievement for the Society, helping ensure its long-term sustainability and resilience, and is the result of many years of labor by successive boards, presidents, treasurers, committees, and SAA staff.