President's Message

August 1, 2019

Sherylyn BrillerWords from the Wise

President’s Message
Sherilyn Briller

Summer greetings! Over the last couple of months I have reflected more on long term and short term issues impacting SfAA and our broader world. In the last newsletter, I introduced why SfAA is embarking on strategic planning right now. As we turn 80 next year and look towards our 100 year anniversary coming up, we must deeply consider what we want our organization to be, how to ensure its well-being and vitality, and how we can work together to apply social sciences to “make a difference in the world”. For obvious reasons, we must think hard about and take action if we want to make a better, more inclusive world today. 

In light of what is above, I had mentioned that the SfAA board was going to do some preparatory work to launch the strategic visioning process. The next phase will involve getting a wide range of opinions from SfAA members and interested others (hopefully future members) about what they would like to see going forward. Overall this visioning process calls for much creativity, engagement, enthusiasm and honesty. 

We need all kinds of voices and perspectives well-represented in strategic planning. This includes those who are starting out, those with different life and work experiences, those with strategic planning backgrounds, those with novel ideas, those whose opinions are regularly heard, and those being asked for the first time. Like many others, I am excited for this conversation and how it can help us frame our overarching goals and how we will achieve them. By having this conversation, I believe we can connect our history of promoting applied social sciences with a sustainable and productive future. 

At the Spring board meeting, we discussed how we might best embark upon assessing our environment, considering our current strengths and weaknesses, and proceed with dynamic planning for growth. We acknowledged that like many professional organizations, we must consider key transitions in anthropology, professional organizations, and in the world. Following that meeting, we organized a set of summer board working groups for carrying out some preparations for the strategic planning process. 

These groups are helping organize our initial conversations about:

·      Financial Health – revenue streams, fundraising and development, sustainability

·      Membership – current and future members’ needs and desires, membership drive

·      Leadership – professional development at every career stage, mentorship, leadership 

·      External Change – broad mission, maximizing our impact by applying social science

Each working group is meeting during the Summer to initially brainstorm, gather resources, explore what other professional organizations do, prioritize key items and prepare for a wider membership discussion of these topics. 

Stay posted for another update in the Fall as we move forward with the next phase of our collaborative strategic planning. In the meantime, if you have burning issues and thoughts to share now, please send them to: and use the subject line Strategic Planning. That will help ensure that we get all of these thoughts collected and assembled together. Thanks to those who have already expressed great interest in this strategic visioning process and your willingness to participate. You may be excited to hear that we are also planning to incorporate a time for collegially and collaboratively discussing strategic planning into the SfAA’s annual business meeting. 

And on a related note…Hopefully you are starting to think about attending our annual meeting in Albuquerque from March 17-21, 2020. The program theme “Cultural Citizenship and Diversity in Complex Societies” could not be more timely and important. We have an experienced and dedicated program committee, headed by Program Chair Lois Stanford, who have great passion for and dedication to the program theme. Many people are expected to attend and present who know about this meeting theme in important personal and professional ways. They are engaged in applying social science to address issues of human wellbeing, migration, outreach activities, policy, health, organizational capacity building and the list goes on.  

The pre-registration and abstract submission information is up on the SfAA website now. Please note that the abstract submission deadline is October 15th. Registration rates will increase after that date. We need to do this because both the SfAA staff and other people assembling the sessions (e.g., TIG leaders) need enough time to process and work with the submissions. Adhering to this October 15 deadline will benefit all of us by allowing adequate time to ensure that we can have the best organized sessions possible. 

That’s the update on what is going on with our strategic planning process and getting ready for the 2020 annual meeting in Albuquerque. We are setting up our process now for thoughtfully and substantively working with the large amounts of dialogue and input we anticipate that SfAA members will generate. After assembling this information from the membership, we will be able to make critical decisions about what to prioritize and what next steps to take. A real advantage is that we have many members with expertise in creating appropriate strategies, goals and objectives – as well as the ability to evaluate and determine our success in implementing the strategic plan we create. I am extremely hopeful about what we can accomplish together in the future and look forward to going further into the SfAA strategic visioning and planning process with all of you.

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