By Ken Ward
While struggling with how to write this column, I realized that I was approaching it as the new guy. “Hi, you probably don’t know me, but …,” as if I’m that new grad student in the organization. I was that guy in New Orleans, ten years ago. Columbus will be my tenth consecutive conference.
I like you folks. And I guess time flies when you’re with friends. A decade is a long time, but I like journalism history, and you’re the people with whom I like talking about it.
Each year has brought me further into the organization—first as grad committee chair, then registrar, then board member, and now as treasurer. I’ve learned more about what we do each step along the way. As treasurer, I’m learning about things AJHA does that I never understood before.
We’re a much more complex organization than it appears at first glance. We directly publish one academic journal and aid in the publication of another, throw one big conference and support two others, maintain multiple websites, administer thousands of dollars in awards and grants, publish a newsletter, and do a bunch of other cool stuff I’m forgetting about. Each of those activities relies on the support of your donations, memberships and conference fees.
My job as treasurer is two-fold. First, I have to manage the day-to-day flow of financial resources through our organization. When you give the organization money, I’m the person on the other side of the screen (or envelope), making sure our expenses are paid and awards funded. It’s a serious job, and I’m grateful to you all for trusting me with it. I spent a year shadowing our capable past treasurer, Carolyn Edy, before taking the reins myself. I’m thankful for her guidance and for the work done by all past treasurers in helping keep the lights on.
My second job is to make sure this organization can keep doing all this great work not just this year or next but long into the future. I know this is something we all want, but I’m grateful it has the immediate attention of our president, Mike Conway, who in Memphis formed an ad hoc committee to ensure the ongoing financial health of AJHA. He was kind enough to put me on that committee, and we’re well into the process of researching the current situation of our finances and developing a plan to keep this organization hosting conferences, publishing journals, and administering grants and awards well into the future.
In the next few months, our committee will recommend to the board steps for securing the lasting financial health of AJHA. As Mike said in his column last fall, we’ll have to take a hard look at how what we’re doing now impacts what we are able to do in the future. But the outcome—the knowledge that we can continue working and learning together through this great organization long into the future—is worth the hassle.
Again, thanks for letting me serve you, and if you ever have anything I might be able to help with, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.