I want to use this occasion to formally thank the members of the Italian American Studies Association for allowing me to serve as President. Being associated with a dedicated and hardworking team of Executive Council members and officers has afforded me truly wonderful opportunities for both personal and professional growth through service to our organization. Certainly challenging times lay ahead for the Association on many fronts, and perhaps none greater than in relation to membership.
I have pondered about where the Association has been and what has been done since I have been in a leadership position. Where are we going? What does the future hold for us? To be successful, we need to plan. And when I say successful, I mean successful to our membership. Success as defined by the OED is "the prosperous achievement of something attempted." I want each member to feel that the Association is a success, so much so that you get your friends and colleagues to join this organization. Like any good business we need to plan for the future. Our mission is "devoted to the interdisciplinary study of culture, history, literature, sociology, demography, folklore, and politics of Italians in America."
We are a volunteer-led member-driven organization. The Executive Council members and officers spend a great deal of their free (donated) time to make the Association a success. I believe that with new leadership it is time to hold a strategic planning retreat on Saturday, May 16 at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute to refresh and rethink the future of the Association for the next five to ten years. IASA is quite lucky, and I am thankful, to have great individuals to work with in this endeavor. But we cannot do it alone; we need your help as members.
Decision making for a successful organization is an important part of solid leadership. Making sound decisions leads to well-deserved success. Poor decisions, on the other hand, usually lead to unwanted outcomes. This should be avoided within the organization. So as the newly elected President of the Italian American Studies Association, I am asking you, as members, to help the Executive Council members and officers with the decision-making process and let us know what you would like to see started, accomplished, continued, or discontinued, in order to make the Association successful. As with being a constituent in the political system, being an IASA member should not be a spectator sport. Feel free to email the leadership with your thoughts. Emails can be found online on the "About IASA" page, and we will forward each one to the appropriate Executive Council member and/or officer or Committee Chair.
We need to ask the right questions to come up with the right answers. Are we currently giving members what they want? Why do individuals join our organization? What would motivate nonmembers from joining our organization? Why renew? What does our association offer that is so unique and so valuable that an individual will pay for membership out her own pocket if the employer stops paying? What does our organization offer that is so essential that members will maintain their dues even if they are in transition or facing a financial hardship? What differentiates members in our community from nonmembers? What are the most compelling reasons to join our organization? These are some of the questions the Executive Council will be discussing in May. But again, we need to hear from you.