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Chair’s Message – July 2017
It’s been an honor to serve EDRA
Summer is flying by! In a few days, it will be August 1st and my year-long term as Chair of the Board of EDRA will end. While I will remain on the Board for one year longer as Ex-Officio/Past Chair, I want to share with my fellow EDRA some thoughts as I close out my term as Chair.
To begin, it has been an honor to serve EDRA this past year. I was not at the helm alone. Together, the entire Board has been moving the organization forward in positive directions, striving for stability, growth and to provide greater responsiveness to members’ needs and concerns. To be sure, it is an ongoing process, but I am both energized and humbled by the dedication of my fellow Board members. Their hard work and commitment, along with the good work and positive energy of all members, makes being a part of EDRA such a rewarding experience.
One of the main successes of this year has been the EDRA48 conference in Madison, Wisconsin. I’m still so energized by all the sessions – the intensives, posters, papers and plenaries – as well as the members themselves, both long-time and new, who engaged in the kinds of lively discussions and sharing of knowledge for which we come to EDRA in the first place. I also participated as a mentor in the day-long Graduate Student Workshop organized by our student representative on the board, Karen Kim, and was so invigorated by the innovative work of our emerging scholars. Overall, the energy, comraderie, and intellect of those whom I encountered in Madison makes me excited for EDRA and its future.
As the chair, it was quite gratifying to see everyone’s hard work over the course of a year finally come together. Here, I want to call out specifically the exceptional conference co-chairs who made this conference what it was – Mimi Majumdar Narayan (Pew Charitable Trusts), Jung-Hye Shin and Sam Dennis (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Dave Boeck, board member at large and co-chair for EDRA49 in Oklahoma City, also participated in the conference planning along with our new executive director Lee Helgen at EDRA headquarters at Ewald Consulting. The team was led by the tireless efforts and vision of Jeremy Wells (University of Maryland), chair of the Program Committee and our incoming noard chair. Three cheers for this terrific team!
Special Thanks to Some Special EDRA Leaders
It certainly takes a village to run EDRA, so across the board (literally) there are many people to thank. But there are a few I want to make sure you all know about, especially those who are ending their term on EDRA’s Board of Directors come August 1, 2017. Yes, they got gift bags and a round of applause at the banquet, but I really want to acknowledge, before all our members, all the fine work that they have done for EDRA.
Foremost, I want to recognize Shauna Mallory-Hill for a full eight years (!) of service on the board. During her tenure she has served as treasurer, chair, and most recently as Past Chair/Ex-Officio. I feel humbled by her unflagging commitment to this organization. She helped shepherd the organization through several management transitions in recent years, as we endeavored to find a suitable administrative team for EDRA who could appreciate who we are collectively, what we value, and what we aim to achieve.
Also completing her 3-year term on the board is Jennifer Senick. Jen has served as our Treasurer this past year – not an easy task as we strive to stabilize our beloved organization. In the two years that our terms have overlapped on the board, I have come to deeply appreciate Jen’s keen eye for detail while maintaining a clear view of the big picture.
Emily Chmielewsky is also stepping down from the board. She has been a key leader of our exciting new recognition program, CORE – the Certificate of Research Excellence – now in its second year of a three-year pilot. This past year, Emily chaired the Recognitions Committee, which encompasses not only CORE, but also the Great Places Awards and other EDRA Awards. Emily rallied a great team to help her, with Mallika Bose (Penn State) overseeing the Great Places Awards and Rula Awaad-Rafferty (Univ of Idaho) overseeing the EDRA Awards. Our awards programs are a big area of responsibility and I can think of no one better than Emily to have led them. Always professional, pleasant and supremely organized, Emily is someone I could always count on – and she dreams up fantastic Halloween costumes!
These women are natural leaders, wonderful colleagues, and they have been an inspiration to me.
At the conference banquet, I also identified those fine EDRA members who have or will be stepping into new leadership roles on the EDRA board. First, Elizabeth Hewitt, PhD, Assistant Professor of Energy Policy at SUNY Stony-Brook has stepped in as an interim board member as of June 2017. Sharmin Kader, PhD, architect and Research Associate with TreanorHL Architects, is stepping into Emily’s position as the practitioner-researcher on the board for one year. Also newly elected by our members to the Board, is Linda Nubani, PhD, Assistant Professor of Interior Design at Michigan State University. I am very excited to welcome them to the board!
Thanks to All at EDRA!
I began attending EDRA conferences in 1988 in Pomona California when I was a doctoral student in Environmental Psychology at CUNY. I was in awe of what I discovered at EDRA – meeting scholars whose work I had eagerly read for my studies, engaging in vigorous dialog about the nature of our interactions with the physical world around us, and being welcome into this amazing community of researchers, teachers and practitioners. Who knew that 28 years later I would be entrusted with such a leadership position as that which I held this past year. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve you!