Co-Executive Director’s Report
By Kristine McCusker and Louis Kyriakoudes
As we end our first year as co-executive directors, we look back on a busy and successful year of transition and accomplishment. We are particularly grateful for the support of OHA’s former program associate Gayle Knight and former interim executive director Kristine Navarro-McElhaney for their support in this year of transition. We are also grateful to Faith Bagley, our current program associate, for her hard work during the transition as we set up the office in Tennessee.
As we transitioned the executive office from Georgia State University to Middle Tennessee State University, we paid particular attention to reducing office and overhead expenses. For example, through careful management, we have been able to achieve cost savings in accountancy, banking and insurance services.
The hard work and skill of our graduate assistants, Jordan Alexander and Keneisha Mosely, and our undergraduate intern, Bethany Bork, helped us complete some major initiatives that are allowing us to serve you, our members, more effectively.
Bethany, for example, reorganized our membership lists by geography so we could see how oral historians might gather more regionally. Jordan and Keneisha gathered data on membership of other scholarly societies. They are also assisting us as we prepare a report of oral history as scholarship,a project left unfinished by Cliff Kuhn’s untimely passing.
We spent the year meeting our counterparts in other professional societies,especially those affiliated with the American Council of Learned Societies, so we could see the current best practices for professional societies. Kristine Navarro-McElhaney has agreed to serve as the association’s treasurer, a new position that provides an additional layer of professionalism to the management of OHA’s finances.
Finally,we put in place reasonable practices to handle sexual harassment claims and will continue to make our conference and other OHA-sponsored activities a safe and welcoming space for all.
Membership is growing. As of writing, the OHA has 1,054 individual members, up 14 percent from 2017. Institutional partner memberships stand at 17, up from five in the previous year. This growth comes at a time when other scholarly societies are facing flat or declining membership. OHA’s growth is a strong endorsement of the value of OHA to its members and their work.
Members have been generous in their financial support. This year’s Day of Giving you donated $4,635 to the association to support diversity initiatives, a 40 percent increase over the previous year.
The conference in Montreal saw record attendance with 752 registered attendees, a 55 percent increase over attendance at the Minneapolis meeting in 2017. We are deeply grateful for the hard work and support from of our local hosts at Concordia University, especially Steven High and Jessica Dahbi. Our program committee,co-chaired by Steve Estes and Amy Starecheski produced an intellectually rigorous and engaging program. Faith Bagley played a critical role in organizing the meeting’s logistics so that the conference could run smoothly.
We’re hoping to capitalize on this tremendous international interest in oral history in the next year and look forward to working with our new Council members in imagining what that might look like.