President’s Column

Sherylyn Hope Briller

January, 2021

Greetings on a snowy day here. Hope that 2021 is moving in a better direction, wherever you are.  Getting through 2020 involved multiple challenges and all of us likely re-examining what we thought was important. Certainly, these thoughts apply to thinking about our Society’s past, present and future. As I wrap up my time as SfAA President, I am reflecting on these experiences and what was learned from them. I can honestly say that things went very differently than I expected in many respects. Our Society faces critical issues that are familiar to many organizations right now. These include financial ones, the changing roles of professional organizations, and ensuring sustainability for the long term. We need to think about how we want to gather, communicate and change in these times. Also we must deeply consider how as applied anthropologists we will work on racial and social justice to make a better and inclusive world. These are all extremely big topics and involve much to do – but I am hopeful that we are on a good path. Although I haven’t used it before here, my middle name is Hope (literally) and so I thought it seemed right to add it in to the byline this time. It aptly conveys how I am feeling about things and what SfAA’s next chapter can be like.

Despite the troubles our Society experienced since February, 2020, I am gratified by how we banded together, brainstormed, fundraised and the list goes on. For the reasons above, I am optimistic about SfAA’s future. One important sign of confidence during this last year was that so many people opted to renew as SfAA members. Those who were able to generously donated money, time, know-how, ideas and other things that contributed to our well-being. All of these important kinds of support allowed us to function and work on vital next steps. We still have much more to do. Should you feel so inclined, just go ahead and write to us at and we will happily match you and your talents with something you would enjoy doing!

One especially exciting development has been the coming together of our new virtual annual meeting.  It results from many months of detailed, hard work put in by many people – it would not be possible to overstate how valuable this work has been for SfAA. We would not have this conference in March without the Meetings working group, the Program Committee, the TIGS, the SfAA office staff, those who fundraised for the new Programming and Technology Fund – just to name some of the key groups here. 

Hundreds of registrants have now signed up for our training sessions to learn more about how to use Whova (our conference software), how to record presentations, how to be a moderator and help with securing our meeting and so forth. From all of this, you can see that we are gearing up right now. At the initial training session last Thursday, 187 people signed up and participated in 90 minutes of training, q& a time and giving critical feedback. This is proving to be an excellent process that will help us both to share how the annual meeting and conference software will work and learn what specific issues are arising that our members need more information about – or where we have to look further into something specific. To give an illustrative example, we have done a lot of planning and conferring with other organizations about accessibility feature requests for the meeting. We also learned some new important things on Thursday which we will now look into further accordingly. To help with meeting accessibility requests as well as other supporting other meeting initiatives, we very much appreciate if people would continue to donate into our Programming and Technology Fund as well as the SfAA General Fund that help us make all of this happen. To make a donation, click on the secure link below:

If you prefer to donate by check, simply list the funds you are contributing to, write the check to Society for Applied Anthropology, and mail to:

P.O. Box 2436
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

Thank you for your continued support of the Society for Applied Anthropology in all ways. We are a community and it really shows. I appreciate the opportunity to work with all of you and help the Society transform. It has been challenging, eye-opening and a significant and rewarding part of my personal and professional life. This leadership experience helped me grow as a person and an anthropologist - and give to this organization that has been my professional home from my student days and throughout my career. I am committed to working hard on the initiatives we have already going and helping think about how we can best serve our current and future members. I hope and expect that we will be able to do great things together for our Society and its vital work. I look forward to “seeing” you online for the upcoming 2021 annual meeting!

©Society for Applied Anthropology 

P.O. Box 2436 • Oklahoma City, OK 73101 • 405.843.5113 •