1. REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TOBI BRIMSEK
Good evening and welcome back to Austin! Thank you for allowing me once again to share the staff’s perspective of this past year, which was truly a remarkable year. Change and innovation were the guideposts set in place by the Board. In fact, the way the year played out reminds me of something Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress; working together is success.” There is no question that with the Board, the membership, and the staff all working hard and working together that the organizational result was nothing less than successful.
As Heraclitus so aptly stated, “Big results require big ambitions.” SAA’s biggest ambitions this year included publications, education, and meetings. These ambitions translated into the launch of our new digital journal, Advances in Archaeological Practice, the rollout of Current Research Online, our new, wildly successful Online Seminar Series, and the annual meeting mobile app, premiering here in Austin. The Board also is orchestrating the second Conferencia Intercontinental in Lima this August as well as a joint European Association of Archaeologists/SAA thematic meeting in Curaçao in November 2015, focused on colonialism and slavery. Stay tuned for the specifics on that meeting.
With these blueprints developed by the Board, staff set out to work. SAA’s manager, Information Services, Cheng Zhang was instrumental in the technological rollouts of the new digital journal, the online seminars, and the development of the mobile app, while he continued to refine and enhance the Abstract Submissions System, as well as prepare for upgrades to the backbone of our database management system. All of this infrastructure innovation will set the stage for a complete re-design of the SAA Web site, a few years down the road.
Maureen Malloy, manager, Education and Outreach had an incredibly innovative year with the focus on the new Online Seminar Series and a major Student Day event here in Austin on Saturday. Keep watching for digital badging tied to the Online Seminar Series as we continue to explore that option.
Lead by David Lindsay, the Government Affairs Program saw domestic growth and strengthening, but also, with the establishment of the International Government Affairs Committee, the program broadened SAA’s reach around the globe in its mission of preserving and protecting the archaeological record. Member interest in the program is also expanding, with the monthly electronic government affairs update being subscribed to by 69% of the Society’s current membership. Stop by the SAA booth to sign up for this free update available only to SAA members.
Cindy DeLano joined SAA as our manager, Publications this January, ensuring the on-time and quality production of our journals, the magazine, annual meeting pieces, and titles from The SAA Press. With the launch of the new journal, Advances in Archaeological Practice, the Society brought Elisabeth Herschbach on board for 10 hours a week as our Editorial Specialist. The two create a strong and effective editorial team.
This year included another staff transition with our coordinator, Financial and Administrative Services, Shelley Adams, taking over the reins of the manager, Membership and Marketing position. This year is getting off to a solid start with our largest exhibit hall ever, here in Austin. I’d like to offer a special thank you to all of our exhibitors. In concert with the transition, innovation and change will also continue to sweep through this program, focused on serving our membership.
Josh Caro, coordinator Membership and Meetings is working through his first SAA meeting, but many of you may have e-mailed or spoken with Josh, as he is one of our membership first responders. Admittedly, all of those emails that I send to you—Josh is the instrument through which those happen. Josh also works with me on advance meeting logistics, so for the first time he is seeing the fruits of some of his labors.
Working quietly behind the scenes but serving a keystone role for program support is Jonathon Koudelka, coordinator, Financial and Administrative Services. Jonathon joined us just a few weeks before this meeting and right before the annual audit. I would characterize his introduction to SAA as a kind of baptism by fire.
In sum, this year was truly a year of growth, change, and innovation. Management guru Tom Peters tells us to “celebrate what you want to see more of,” and I think it is time to celebrate just a little. But, let’s also remember that this is another beginning. Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” There is no doubt that SAA will continue on this trailblazing path. I would like to thank you for allowing me to be a part of the incredible journey of this extraordinary organization, made so, by all of you.
In closing, I hope to see some of you in Lima this August for the second Conferencia Intercontinental (registration is open and growing now), and I hope to see all of you next year in San Francisco at SAA’s 80th annual meeting. Thank you.