This issue of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA is chock full of conference news giving you the opportunity to read about the virtual experience coming so soon. Many of your questions should be answered and it is a good preview. But before I move on to the conference, I’d like to bring up the Office of Management and Budget announcement of the White House memo calling for a ban that forbids federal agencies from funding diversity, equity and inclusion training that includes white supremacy or critical race theory. It is considered by the Administration as divisive, un-American, and far-left indoctrination. Additional federal guidance on training sessions is forthcoming, maintaining that “the President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States.” (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/04/trump-antiracism-training-white-privilege-critical-race-theory)
That is tantamount to the Administration trying to tell us how to do our jobs and that is not acceptable. I would like to extend my appreciation to our colleagues who do DEI training for the government. I also extend my sympathies, but I strongly believe that this too shall pass. In the meantime, it will be interesting to read what the Administration thinks should be included in DEI training.
On a happier note, I like to think of the upcoming conference as a smorgasbord. The Conference Committee has arranged a menu that includes succulent concurrent sessions, tasty invited workshops, delicious invited speakers, gourmet wellness sessions, and other special tidbits such as Happy Hours. The two appetizers are the Live Online Learning Activities workshop sponsored by SIETAR USA and conducted by Sivasailam Thiagarajan and Matt Richter. A second appetizer is the special session by veteran SIETAR USA member Shelley Morrison. She has been doing virtual training longer than anyone I know, and her helpful tips are all gems—not to be missed. The Opening Keynote is a special dish that starts the conference. Then the main course items are the concurrent sessions designed and presented by members. And for dessert, you have Patricia Coleman who will offer the closing keynote. You will end the conference “well-fed!”
One special session worth mentioning is the Annual Business Meeting on Monday, October 12th. A lot has been happening with our complete Board so full of enthusiasm and inspired ideas. The Board of Directors looks forward to reporting on such things as the Financial situation (very good), the health of our Local Groups, the webinars scheduled for the first half of 2021, several important Professional Development initiatives, Membership numbers (a good place to volunteer), Leadership Development (we will be in the middle of a nomination/election cycle), Communication innovations (another spot for volunteers), Sponsor Partner developments (news to announce there!), and of course, a 2021 Conference preview. It will also be a time when the President Elect (Brett) can give you an idea of what his plans are for his 2-year term starting 1 January 2021.
N.B. The Full Schedule is in the conference section on the SIETAR USA website. We are working on the background information that answers the questions you might have regarding each session: presenter bios and session descriptions. There will be a link to provide easy access to the resource material.
We expect to learn a lot from this conference—not only from the presenters. We will also be learning which decisions were good ones and which not so much. We want to learn from your experiences as well, so please complete the evaluation to help us craft virtual conferences in the future that meet your needs and wants. We are still confident that we will be able to meet in person in 2021 in Omaha.
I look forward to seeing you throughout the virtual conference and in a year, see you in Omaha!
Sandra M. Fowler
President SIETAR USA