By Natalie Fousekis
It’s hard to believe it has been six months since we all gathered in Montreal for our annual meeting and I began my presidency of this dynamic, diverse organization of oral history practitioners. Since then I have been struck by the generosity of our members and their willingness to volunteer to serve on standing committees, ad-hoc committees, award committees and task forces. I admire the dedication so many of you have to this organization and appreciate all your hard work on our behalf.
I am delighted to report that Council has had a very active 2019 thus far. In February we all gathered in Salt Lake City at the site of our 2019 conference for two days of work and conversation about the priorities of the organization. We were all taken with the beauty of the city with the Wasatch Range rising behind the downtown skyline. I can’t wait to return in October when the mountains won’t be covered with snow, as they were in February, but with their brilliant fall colors.
It was our first mid-winter meeting with our four new council members: Sarah Milligan, Gwen Etter-Lewis, Alexander Freund and our First-VP Dan Kerr. I have appreciated their thoughtful questions, contributions and insight since they joined council in October. The organization will benefit from their energy, diverse perspectives and talents for the next few years.
At our mid-winter meeting we continued to work on developing OHA’s sexual harassment policy. We reviewed a draft policy developed by Executive Director Louis Kyriakoudes based on conversations with an attorney and a survey of policies established by organizations similar to OHA. We discussed the policy, made suggestions for revision and focused in on the process for handling a sexual harassment claim once it has been made. We will have a well-developed policy to share with the membership when we all meet in Salt Lake City.
I am also excited to announce we have begun the process of developing a new strategic plan. Our last strategic plan (2014-2017) proved extremely helpful in setting the priorities of the organization for the past five years. At the mid-winter meeting, council selected and approved the hiring of a strategic planning consultant. We held our kick-off conference call with her in late April. She was pleased to see that we had recently conducted a membership survey, which will assist us as we move forward with this process.
We will spend the next few months as a council doing a SWOT analysis to identify the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We will reach out to the membership for additional input during this process. Council will arrive in Salt Lake City early this October to dedicate an entire day to develop the priorities for our new strategic plan. I look forward to updating all of you at the conference on where we are in the process.
Thank you to those who have already responded to my request to serve on OHA award committees! We still have a few committees that need volunteers. Should you be interested in serving on an award committee or have any other questions/concerns about OHA, please reach out to me directly – email@example.com