November 1, 2019
I am honored to be nominated and it would be a privilege to serve as President of the Society for Applied Anthropology. I am a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park. I teach and undertake applied anthropology focused on coastal socio-ecological resilience, climate change, natural resource management and restoration, fisheries, and agriculture. My teaching and research transcend the boundaries of anthropology and engage the general public, policymakers, government planners and managers, and leaders in religious and non-government organizations. I co-founded the Deal Island Peninsula Project, a network of coastal residents, researchers and government and non-government officials undertaking collaborative science and management to increase coastal socio-ecological resilience in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Prior to joining the University of Maryland in 1997, I practiced anthropology for 10 years at a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization undertaking policy research on gender and development.
I have been a member of the SfAA for over 30 years. My service has included work on a number of committees: Finance Committee (2005-2008), Publications Committee, (2003-2005), Monograph Series Committee (2003-2005), and Annual Meeting Program Committee (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2014). I have twice served as a Board Member (2005-2008 and 2011-2014) and twice as Secretary (2005-2008 and 2014-2015). I was Program Chair for our 2019 annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. I also have administrative experience at the University of Maryland and in the non-profit sector.
The SfAA is fortunate to have a strong and dedicated leadership and a membership with diverse experience and expertise. As President, I will marshal that leadership and expertise to help ensure that the SfAA is impactful, sustainable, diverse and inclusive. I will pursue initiatives that a) help us partner with like-minded organizations globally to increase the impact, quality and diversity of our applied work; b) expand revenue sources to ensure our sustainability; c) bring a new generation of members into leadership positions to promote a robust view of our future goals and needs; and d) fine tune the planning and implementation of our annual meetings to enrich the usefulness and experience of local hosts and members.
I am honored to join another longstanding, dedicated SfAA member on the ballot. I’ve been an active SfAA member since 2006. I was a founding member of the Human Rights and Social Justice Committee and later its chair. We organized roundtables on current issues, skills workshops, and facilitated action on hotel policies. After receiving the Margaret Mead Award, students invited me to a workshop on publishing and engaging various audiences the following year.
I bring community organizing and grantwriting experience, securing the NSF CAREER, among others. I bring publishing experience in public media, three dozen scholarly articles/chapters, a documentary, and seven books. I bring activist experience, collaborating with solidarity/advocacy efforts, bringing students to Washington policymaking institutions. I also bring leadership experience, chairing the Lambi Fund of Haiti and Haitian Studies Association.
As President, I would deepen mentoring. Now that four-fifths of anthropology PhDs are off the tenure track, SfAA has an obligation to lead our profession in meaningful skills-building, exchange, and opportunities to re-imagine and establish careers as applied social scientists. In addition to building on spaces for deliberation for inclusion, citizenship, and activism, SfAA also has work to continue decolonizing our praxis, including investing in diversity. SfAA also has the obligation to do more than assert our relevance to contemporary movements for humanity; we must always be deliberately inclusive of marginalized voices.
As President I would build on this work by dedicated members, who are expanding spaces for conscious values-based policies and practice for SfAA. I would work with members to consolidate these changes, reinforcing our values through our praxis, like ‘green’ initiatives, conference venues, and safety, including from gender violence. We can expand who “applies” anthropology and our toolkit to include media and organizing. Reactivating the student committee and engaging in strategic partnerships with other associations can revitalize and diversify SfAA. We must be creative in approaches to funding, like the Pelto Committee, to internationalize our conversations. Contemporary issues demand greater visibility through searchable online platforms and targeted outreach to media, policymaking, and philanthropic institutions. Working together, we can establish SfAA as this much-needed platform for the future.