Summary of the Fall Board of Directors Meetings
Since my last article in July, the Board of Directors has been busy conducting the Society’s business. In a typical year, the Board meets in person before and after the Annual Meeting and the membership convenes at the annual Business Meeting. This year, the Board met during the meeting maintaining much of the traditional format. These meetings, while not jovial, were decidedly more upbeat than was the July Board meeting. Earlier this year, 20 in-person educational events were postponed or outright canceled. The Society leadership, meeting Co-Chairs, presenters, and Executive Office staff pulled together a minor miracle. In only a few short months, the Annual Meeting was reborn as a month-long, fully virtual conference. This required learning new skills, implementing new technologies, and recreating the traditional workshops and sessions to a completely new format. As I write this, the first virtual Annual Meeting in SRAI’s 53-year history is drawing to a close. I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder, but (spoiler alert) the meeting has exceeded all expectations for high-quality content including more than 170 sessions and workshops, and attendance with more than 1,400 registrants. Much gratitude is owed for the countless hours and dogged determination of all involved in making the meeting a success.
First Meeting of the Board
The first meeting of the Board opened as SRAI President Kim Carter reported on the many challenges and successes of the past year. I already mentioned the success of the annual meeting. However, an unexpected benefit of the online meeting was attendance by many members who had not previously attended an annual conference. Similarly, the LevelUP educational series has enjoyed substantial interest. Since its introduction, the projected utilization goals have nearly been met and will likely be exceeded in the coming months. The launch of the Coffee Talks and SRAI Connect have enjoyed similar successes. The Diversity Task Force, created by Ms. Carter at the last Board meeting, has been fully staffed and will shortly begin its work to improve the inclusion, diversity and outreach of SRAI’s leadership and educational engagement.
President Elect Debra Schaller-Demers outlined her strategic plans for reorganization of the SRAI committee structure to better serve member needs.
In her final appearance as Immediate Past President of SRAI, Cindy Kiel reported on the recommendations of the Divisions Task Force. This task force was charged with reviewing and recommending changes to increase the engagement of the Divisions. Evan Roberts, Executive Director, and Ellen Quinn, Chief Operating Officer, reported on the activities of the Executive Office. The program to offer reciprocal membership to sister societies under memoranda of understanding has been a great success. As mentioned above, the LevelUP program has also enjoyed much interest in its inaugural year. Additional modules are scheduled for release in the next few months. Watch the Catalyst and SRAI Connect for updates.
It was with considerable sadness that the resignation of long-term member of the staff, Dilyana Williams, was announced. Dilyana’s expertise, dedication to SRAI, and commitment to supporting the membership will be missed. The Board wished Dilyana much success and happiness in the future.
Andrea Deaton reported on the activities of the newly created Data Integrity Committee. The DIC was formed in response to increasing demand for information from the Executive Office. The Committee presented their procedures for evaluating and responding to these requests. The age of ‘Big Data’ is at hand and the leadership is taking appropriate steps to effectively manage that resource.
Annual Business Meeting
The Annual Business Meeting was held on October 20. President Carter opened the meeting with a summary of the past year’s activities (see above). Dominic Esposito, Treasurer, reported that the Society remains on solid financial footing in spite of reduced revenues from the cancelation of numerous meetings. Immediate Past President, Cindy Kiel, announced the election results. Gloria Greene and Bruce Steinert are returning to the Board as At-Large Member and Secretary, respectively. Dara Little is joining the Board as an At-Large Member. Ms. Carter recognized and thanked the many members who have provided leadership over the past year including:
- 2020 Annual Meeting Co-Chairs: Denise Clarke, Lorna Colquhoun and Vivian Holmes
- Outgoing Distinguished Faculty Chairs: Andrea Deaton and Marjorie Piechowski
- Outgoing Awards Chair: Annedorte Vad
- Outgoing Bylaws Chair: Jason Claes
- Outgoing Catalyst Chairs: Kathryn Watkins and Seema Dhindaw
- Outgoing Membership Chairs: Tonya Edvalson and Gloria Greene
- Outgoing Ad Hoc Board Member: Philip du Plessis
- Outgoing Ad Hoc Board Member: Jennifer Easley
- Outgoing At-Large Board Member: Susan Wyatt Sedwick
The gavel of leadership was passed to incoming President, Debra Schaller-Demers. Ms. Schaller-Demers introduced the 2021 Annual Meeting Co-Chairs, Gina Hedberg, Mir Asghar Ali Khan, and Cindy Morin. The Annual Meeting is being planned as an in-person event to be held in New Orleans next October.
Second Meeting of the Board
As has been SRAI’s tradition, the newly elected and returning members of the Board meet following the Annual Business Meeting. It is at this meeting that the Board receives training on its role and responsibilities to govern the Society. One of the first duties of the new Board is to elect one of its members to serve on the Executive Committee. This year, the Board elected Andrea Deaton to fulfill that role. President Schaller-Demers outlined in detail her plan for committee reorganization. Some of the changes will be implemented immediately while some could require amending the Bylaws. The Board received the financial report of Treasurer, Dominic Esposito, and approved the budget for the 2021 fiscal year. At the July Board meeting, the Governance Committee was tasked with developing a plan to review the governance structure of the Society. Such a review has not occurred in more than ten years. In its final official action of the meeting, the Board approved the plan.
I have no doubt that SRAI will emerge from the pandemic as a much stronger organization that is better positioned to meet the educational and professional development needs of its members than at any time in its past. We have banded together and shown that we can face any challenge and work for the good of the members and the Society.
As the pandemic continues to affect institution budgets and restrict travel, the Board will next meet online in January or February. Remember that the Board meetings are open to members (with the exception of brief in camera sessions). We hope you will accept the invitation.
Stay well and be safe.
Authored by Bruce Steinert, Clinical Research Regulatory Manager
Medical College of Wisconsin
SRAI Board of Directors Secretary