As required in the SIETAR USA By Laws, the Annual Meeting was held on December 14, 2021. Brett Parry, President opened the meeting thanking everyone for attending. The registration for this meeting was an impressive 83 and well over half attended. He introduced the governing body starting with pictures of each Board member as well as the Advisory Council. He shared a list of the eight Institutional Members and the eight Sustaining Members.
Recounting the highlights of the year, he commented on the quick ability to pivot from an in-person conference in Omaha to a virtual Master Workshop Weekend when the COVID virus and variants made large indoor gatherings unsafe. Brett lauded the webinars and the webinar team chaired by Carolyn Ryffel, for the exciting 2021 webinar series that builds on the learning of the presenters as well as the participants who add their comments and questions.
Brett described some initiatives to look for in 2022:
- Digital HQ and Hub. He and Karen Fouts, Admin Officer, have been working on a system that will provide seamless communication for communicating to and from members.
- Affinity Groups. The SIETAR USA membership is rich with varied backgrounds, identities, and practices. The Affinity Groups will leverage those with space for everyone at the table.
- Saturday Seminars. Using a virtual platform and hopefully future in-person learning programs that offer day-long in-depth dives into current issues for intercultural and DEI work.
He concluded by saying that he feels there are great things in the works for next year.
Ratifying the Slate of Candidates. The candidates for the open Board positions were: Cheryl Woehr for Professional Development Director; Willette Neal for Membership Outreach and Diversity Director; Elmer Dixon for President Elect. A poll was used for the voting and the candidates were approved by 100% of the members present. Gratitude was extended to the committee for their hard work (Kwesi Ewoodzie, Sue Shinomiya, Pilar Montejo, and Sandy Fowler).
Treasurer’s Report. Alsu Schondelmayer, SIETAR USA Treasurer described her duties as monitoring and managing SIETAR USA’s finances. She said that we are good stewards of the members’ dues and have had a very stable financial position over the past 3 years. Brett added that the Finance Committee and Officers fought hard to make sure the hotel contract was fair, resulting in a positive agreement regarding the postponements and penalties. Alsu’s charts showed that SIETAR USA’s income is mainly from dues, but we also realize income from the programs such as the webinars and the Master Workshop Weekend. Breakdowns of income and expenses are available on request from Karen Fouts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alsu serves us well.
Membership has been growing. A breakdown by the categories of membership revealed that not all categories are well populated. The breakdown of membership by category is also available from the Administrative Officer.
The Board Members were asked to say a few words about their plans for the new year. Each one extended an invitation to get involved, get in touch, give back to the field that has been our passion for so long.
Caliopy Glaros (Sponsor Partner Development) said that as she oversees sponsors and partners, she wants to explore the possibility of elevating sponsorship to year-round sponsors, not just for the conference. She wants to bring her fund-raising expertise to SIETAR USA to support even more ways of communicating, gathering, learning from each other.
Rashmi Kapse (Communications Director) wants to bring forward more research in addition to education and training. She wants to put SIETAR USA in front of the commercial world and would like to share ideas about that.
Nkenge Friday (Leadership Development Director) will be creating a structure for developing leaders—a pipeline. She plans to collaborate with other Board members to make the path to leadership more transparent. She plans to improve the on-boarding process and work on retention. She wants to figure out what we can do to get members ready for leadership and how SIETAR USA can be ready for you.
Cheryl Woehr (Professional Development) admitted that hers is a big job because of so much that is on her plate, however, the help from the committees makes it doable and worthwhile. The Webinar team is a good example, chaired by Carolyn Ryffel with the help of Julia Gaspar-Bates, Sandy Fowler, and Cheryl who put their heads together to find interesting and diverse presenters for the webinars. Cheryl welcomes suggestions for dynamic speakers. She also asked people to consider volunteering for the mentoring program; it especially need mentors. She called attention to the revised Living Code of Ethical Behavior and said it is possible to get your name on the list of ethical interculturalists. Finally, she talked about nascent plans for the Saturday Seminar mentioning a Town Hall as one possibility.
Julia Gaspar Bates (Local Groups Director) oversees the activities of the 7 active Local Groups. She mentioned each by name and introduced the two newest Local Groups: Chicagoland and Bay Area. She said that more will be coming online next year.
Willette Neal (Membership Outreach and Diversity Director) has 3 goals for next year. She wants to institute quarterly coffee and conversation meetings for people who are interested and considering membership. She will become more involved with Local Groups who should be a rich source of memberships. She will take responsibility for the DEI column in the monthly newsletter, The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA.
Karen Lokkesmoe (Conference Oversight Director) thanked the great team that has put together the conferences over the past few years. Details regarding the 2022 conference in Omaha will be available soon. She announced that we intend to develop an alternate-year plan for in-person and virtual conferences. She is confirming who wants to remain on the Conference Committee for 2022. She said that conference planning takes a lot of energy as does planning the Saturday Seminars.
As the Board finished their reports, Brett officially closed the meeting.
Afterwards: Sandy updated information about The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA (affectionately also known as the newsletter), the new editors who are being added, and spoke about the Opinion Columns with over 30 people in the field who have contributed essays on a wide range of topics important to SIETAR USA members in the intercultural and DEI fields. She gave an indication of some of the people with whom she has been speaking about writing an essay in 2022.
Brett mentioned Marcella’s comment that we could be connecting with SIETARs all over the world for our webinars and Saturday Seminars. Brett brought up the SIETAR Europa conference in Malta in May. We all hope it can happen and would like to be there.
Written by Sandra Fowler, Editor
The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA