By Ernest L. Hall, MSA President
As I said in my previous blog, MSA Council met at the end of January over a weekend for our winter meeting. Since it was the start of a new year, we spent some time talking about mission, strategy, and goals for 2013. We scheduled that discussion for the morning of the first day we met, indicating its importance, and also hoping to ensure that we could have a lively, energetic, and thoughtful discussion. In addition to MSA Council we had a number of attendees from our extended leadership team, including our professional staff, our publication editors, our M&M meeting program chairs, and Kristin Bunker, President of the Microanalysis Society.
For this discussion we used a process you may be familiar with. We started with brainstorming possible goals, just getting everyone’s ideas down on a number of flipcharts we had scattered around the room. Once all the possible goals were listed, we had time for discussion, which was a great session where everyone spoke about their hopes for the Society for the future. When that was done, we took a break and everyone had a chance to vote for the three goals they considered most important. We had distributed three “sticky dots” to each attendee, and voting was done by sticking a dot next to the goal on the flipcharts. We had previously decided that we wanted to define three goals for 2013, so that we could focus and not spread our efforts over too many areas. In the end, Council adopted the three goals with the most votes.
Our first goal for 2013 is to explore the possibility of engaging a professional communications / media relations / electronic media manager. Here, the focus would be on both internal communication with our members and prospective members, and also externally with the greater public, government entities, etc. We recognize two things: we have a great story to tell (and the pictures to go along with it!), and communication is becoming increasingly complicated in modern life. We also realize that leading this effort will require more than a talented and dedicated volunteer. Since Winter Council, we have worked with our association management firm and have a proposal in hand for a half-time communications management and social networking services leader. We will be having extensive discussions about this before and at Summer Council in August.
Our second goal is to get better at connecting with students and early-career researchers in our field. We discussed this goal at length, and it is clearly related to the first goal. One of our first actions in this area is to get our M&M meeting award winners (33 students and post-docs) together for a meal at M&M 2013 in August and get their ideas on this subject. We’re hoping we can get this talented group of young microscopists to form a nucleus that can help guide us on how to serve, connect, and grow this population.
Our final goal was to continue to strengthen our Local Affiliated Societies. The 34 LAS’s are our grass-roots organization. We know that many LAS members do not have the opportunity to attend the M&M meeting, and rely on LAS programing for their professional growth and networking. We have already taken some steps on this goal, and at Summer Council 2012 doubled the funding available to provide Grants-in –Aid for LAS meetings, in response to high demand. LAS Director Alice Dohnalkova is working with the LAS leaders to determine further actions on this goal. Again, this goal may tie in with the others – for example, many of our LAS’s can use help with communication and outreach. Also, we’ve received a recent proposal for a new student LAS chapter at a university, and this may be an untapped area that serves two goals.
While we did not want to undertake more than three goals, there were several other topics that stirred the interest of Council. Two of them were: developing a long-range financial plan, and increased outreach to the life sciences. Two of the Directors spoke about wanting to work in these areas as part of their Council service going forward.
As I also mentioned in my last blog, the society is fundamentally very strong at present, and these goals are aimed at becoming even better at achieving our mission. Let me know if you have ideas in any of these areas, or want to get involved.
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