As autumn leaves begin to fall, we are reminded that summer has ended, and soon enough, another year will come to a close. Yet, in many important ways, Autumn is also a time of new beginnings. For many of us, this season heralds the start of a new school year. At EDRA, it marks the time when the new Board year gets into full swing with our Fall Board Retreat. The Retreat is a critical opportunity for EDRA’s leaders to take stock of our current practices and programs, and strategically plan for EDRA’s future.
This year, the Board spent much of the Retreat engaged in an intensive Strategic Planning session examining our key values as an organization, right down to our mission and vision. We sought to retain the core values and identity of EDRA from its beginnings, while responding to the contemporary challenges and opportunities that we face both as an organization and as individual members. The result is the development of a new Strategic Plan, which will be unveiled soon. This is an important step in planning for, and securing, a sound future for EDRA. It is also a way to ensure that we are being responsive to members’ current needs and concerns, as the last Strategic plan is eight years old.
Essential to the development of a useful Strategic Plan is the translation of our goals into concrete actionable items. Toward that end, you will begin to see revisions and improvements in everything from our website, to new membership initiatives and opportunities to engage international members. We will also continue to foster relationships with sister organizations like IAPS (International Association of People-Environment Studies) and related publications like Health Environments Research and Design.
Other critical new beginnings this Autumn include the hiring of EDRA’s new administrative headquarters team from Ewald Consulting. While this was announced in a press release a few weeks ago, I want to take a moment to welcome again Kris Haskin as our new Executive Director, Emily Fairall as our Communications Specialist, and Erin Wickens as our new Meeting Planner. This team brings to EDRA a new energy and expertise that will surely help EDRA thrive.
The Retreat also gave us an opportunity to get to know our slate of new Board members better. As many as six colleagues have joined the Board this year: Jeremy Wells, who now serves as our Chair-Elect and Program Committee Chair, Nisha Fernando who is our Secretary and Chair of the Communications Committee, Sue Weidemann, our Board Emeritus member, Deni Ruggeri, who now Chairs the Membership & Partners Committee, Vibhavari Jani, Board member at large, and Karen Kim, our Student Representative.
I also want to acknowledge and offer hearty thanks to our continuing board members: Jennifer Senick, our Treasurer, Shauna Mallory-Hill, our Ex Officio member, David Boeck, Chair of the Fundraising & Sponsorship Committee, and Emily Chmielewski, the Chair of our Recognition Committee – all of whom continue to work tirelessly for the good of EDRA.
I would be remiss in not offering thanks to our outgoing Board members whose term ended in August: Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi (Chair 2015), Rula Awwad-Rafferty, Paula Horrigan, Bob Marans and Molly Ranahan (Student Rep) for their fantastic leadership.
I am so inspired by this entire team of fine people – on the Board both past and present – who are so committed to doing what they can to ensure EDRA’s vibrancy. Their dedication also reminds me of the essential role of volunteerism for EDRA’s success. This is now more important than ever to ensure a vibrant, stable future for EDRA.
While EDRA has had a few challenges in recent years – with the passing of our long-time ED, Janet Singer in 2010, and the challenges HB2 posed for our last conference – I have great hope for our future. Our new partnership with Ewald Consulting and a new team of Board leaders is catalyzing us to reconnect with the early spirit of EDRA, to remind us of who we are as an organization and how we can make a difference toward positive community change and the creation of more humane environments. So we find ourselves looking both ways: back to our intellectual roots and best practices, and forward to new opportunities to engage members and respond to the zeitgeist of our times.
As we launch another round of the Certificate of Research Excellence (CORE) program, gear up for EDRA 48 in Madison, Wisconsin, this coming Spring, and start planning for our 50th Anniversary in two years (!), I am confident that EDRA has a bright future. But the true success of our organization depends on you, our members, to participate. Like the by-line of our EDRA 48 conference theme, I call on you to "Empower, Engage and Energize" yourself to be a part of EDRA. Join us at the conference, participate in our many fine offerings, spread the news about EDRA to colleagues and students, and share your fundraising ideas with us. Be a part of something special to help keep EDRA strong! Share your time and talents and help us lead EDRA to a promising future!
Email Lynne or Kris Haskin (email@example.com) at the EDRA Office to find out more about how you can help.
Lynne C Manzo, PhD is the 2016-17 Chair of the EDRA Board of Directors. Her first EDRA conference was 30 years ago in 1986 in Black Mountain, NC. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.