Dear SAH Friends,
It is with extreme gratitude that I write my portion of the 2020 Virtual Conference report. Part one of our recap shared the statistics of the conference thus far, the gratitude for our keynote speakers, session chairs, speakers, hosts of sessions, and the immediate praise for the paper sessions we received on social media. What an achievement! SAH staff and I have received so many additional emails with kind words about the first phase of the virtual conference and we are so grateful for them. The effort put forth by our staff and volunteers in making this happen was extraordinary. I also want to thank all the session chairs and speakers, who took on much extra work to make the virtual sessions a success. I was worried that the question and answer part of each session might not be as powerful virtually, but that was not the case. I enjoyed the camaraderie I felt in each session I hosted, chaired, or visited. We all needed each other and to come together through the virtual conference brought me great joy, as I hope it did you!
Screenshot from the "Asian American Architecture: Mapping the Field and Its Futures" virtual roundtable.
Over the past two weeks I felt this sense of togetherness continue in the six extraordinary roundtables. All of us at SAH thank the organizers and participants in these roundtables for their powerful conversations. Our roundtables had the best attendance we have ever seen, too! We held these talks on the Zoom meeting platform (as opposed to the Zoom webinar platform we used for the paper sessions) and one thing I liked about doing so, was that not only could I see more people visually on their videos, but that I could also view names in the participant list. This revealed to me that there were lots of new to SAH attendees and that many of you attended multiple roundtables. This would have never happened in person at an SAH conference and I am excited about all that might come from this new type of connectivity.
Although I am looking forward to a future that involves the virtual as it makes SAH accessible in new and powerful ways, I still very much missed being with you all in person in Seattle. My hat’s off to the team who was ready to host us there, led by local chairs Ann Huppert and Thaisa Way. Thank you for everything and I hope we will be able to get to your wonderful city sometime very soon!
I also encourage you to send thanks to our extraordinary SAH team from Chicago who did not hesitate for one second to take on this challenge and make it a huge success in seven weeks! Their commitment to the Society motivates me to be a better member: our wonderful executive director Pauline Saliga, our programs director Christopher Kirbabas, our development director Carolyn Garrett, the comptroller Beth Eifrig, our membership director Anne Bird, and our communications director and Zoom wizard, Helena Dean. Since we decided on Monday, March 9, 2020 to move to a virtual conference, I have been on every staff Zoom meeting and in contact with them daily. I witnessed firsthand all the work they took on, work above and beyond their regular routines, and the enthusiasm and determination with which they approached it. I am deeply grateful.
So, what happens next for SAH? The roundtables and the paper sessions brought us together in ways we have never seen before. SAH will continue to build on the power of these connections in order to move forward initiatives on diversity, education, graduate students, heritage conservation, chapters, and more. I hope you will all continue to join us as we do so and look for a needs assessment survey coming your way soon where you can share thoughts on what we might do together. Although our future at SAH is complicated by impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, our mission remains intact. We ask your help as we utilize our new connectivity to continue our important work.
Very best to you all,
SAH President and Seattle/Virtual 2020 Conference Chair