CSCA - Outgoing Executive Director Letter
It has been a fun and exciting ride as the Executive Director (ED) of the Central States Communication Association (CSCA). More importantly, it has been a privilege to serve this organization as the ED. In my last message to the CSCA membership, I will highlight where we are as an organization and offer my most sincere thanks to the many people who have served alongside me.
Before I took this position, a former President suggested I read Larry Miller's (2007) article about CSCA financial issues in the 1980s. They said the article would give me "a perspective of the role, but also let me know there are people that will help should I need anything." Never did I think this article would become so influential in my role as ED. I have found myself coming back to this article for guidance and inspiration many times this year. When President Chad McBride, Finance Chair Jeff Child, and myself pieced together the full extent of the issues facing CSCA with federal and state compliance/tax issues, there were a few times I honestly did not think CSCA would survive. It is during these times that I would go back and read this article for hope. Our team has worked diligently and efficiently to fix these issues, getting us on the path to be in full compliance. Thank you to all the members who have reached out offering their help and support.
CSCA is ready to move forward as a much stronger organization. A close friend asked me if I was upset or sad that I ended up spending most of the CSCA ED tenure on these kinds of issues. After thinking about it for a bit, I am glad it worked out this way. We do not get to choose what we are called to do. Working on these issues allowed me to talk with my close friend, Chad McBride, daily. Jeff and I got to speak several times a week. I truly value these friendships. Weirdly, I am happy that this group of people I met through CSCA and have become friends with over the years ended up being the same group of people I worked with during this time. By the time the Executive Board decided to cancel CSCA20 in Chicago, we were well equipped to tackle any issue due to a global pandemic.
As I was reflecting on my time as Executive Director, I looked at the two goals I set for myself: technological innovations and internationalization. As far as technological innovations, we moved to a fully online submission system, offered online on-site registration, developed a telepresence option for CSCA19-Omaha, began utilizing cloud accounting, formed a new interest group (Communication and Technology Interest Group: thanks to the fantastic leadership of Becca Johnson), and increased our social media presence (created Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as grew our Facebook presence by 140%). Regarding internationalization, we have joined the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), fostered stronger connections with the International Communication Association (ICA), and were in the process of a more considerable internationalization effort. I hope to work on this more in the coming years.
My tenure with CSCA began long before I took the role of ED. One of my fondest professional memories was planning CSCA13 in Kansas City. My theme for the conference was "Communicating the Possible." This same spirit was vital in my role as ED. There are so many people to thank for helping communicate the possible.
First, I want to thank Kathie Cesa. Kathie has been crucial to the organization's success and vital this year as we dealt with regulatory agencies. Kathie is as much a part of CSCA as any member, and we are thankful to have her serving our organization.
Second, I would like to thank my assistants: America Edwards, Matthew Craig, and Madison Johnson. America served as our social media manager and my idea generator. Matthew and Madison served as fabulous planners, helping me stay organized.
Thank you to the entire Executive Board. While we were canceling CSCA20 in Chicago, they provided the necessary power and budget to work with our legal team. Thank you all for your support and faith.
Exceptional thanks to Tiffany Wang, our incoming ED. This year was supposed to be a "shadow year," but it indeed was anything but shadowing for Tiffany. When it became apparent that Chad McBride, Jeff Child, and myself would be spending a lot of time working with our legal and regulatory teams, she volunteered to step in and take some of the load from us along with Al González. Thank you, Tiffany. I am looking forward to you helping lead this fantastic organization. Thank you, Al, for leading the conference planning under these situations.
Next, I want to recognize Nancy Brule, who represents the best of what CSCA offers. Nancy has served as a role model to me, both as President and Executive Director. Thank you for your mentorship and ethical leadership.
Thank you to my labmates in the Communication and Social Robotics Labs (Autumn Edwards, Patric Spence, David Westerman, Kenneth Lachlan, Tim Sellnow, and Bryan Abendschein) and all of the students (many of which attend CSCA each year). I am so excited to be fully engaged again with our little group. Thank you for letting me serve in this way and providing unwavering support.
Shawn Wahl, Scott Myers, Jihyun Kim, Leah Bryant, Leah Omilion-Hodges, Patric Spence, and Bryan Abendschein have all been such significant sources of support, laughter, and friendship. I consider myself lucky to have such great friends within this field. Thank you all...I owe each of you a drink...or two.
Thanks to Stephen Spates and Sara Baker Bailey for their work promoting CSCA, in the newsletter and supplement. I will miss working with both of you.
Chad McBride and Jeff Child: You both know what I think of each of you. I will genuinely miss our daily conversations, texts, and emails. I am so glad that we all got to work together so closely. I love you dearly, and I know that I will look back at this time, not to reflect on the issues we weren't expecting, but to reflect on the relationships we strengthened. I couldn't have done this without you two.
Thank you to my partner in science and, most importantly, in life, Autumn Edwards. Autumn, you have and continue to be a constant source of support throughout this journey. I am glad we get to spend each day together. I am also thankful that after hours of phone calls with our legal team and the IRS, I could blow off steam by playing Mario Kart with our youngest, Emerson. Thank you to Autumn and our two children.
Finally, thank you to the membership. I am thankful for all of you.
CSCA is strong because of you. I look forward to seeing you in the coming years as we continue to build a diverse community of scholars and communicate the possible.