Mary Reiley, SETAC World Council President

Happy New Year SETACers and friends!

SETAC and the SETAC geographic units (GUs) have celebrated a lot of anniversaries recently. SETAC, founded in 1979 in North America, is 40 years old. SETAC Europe has 30 years under its belt. SETAC Asia-Pacific is 22. SETAC Latin America just celebrated 20 years. And, even our youngest GU, SETAC Africa, is already 7! We are truly a global society with all the opportunities and all the complications that come with it. We are also more diverse of discipline, language, culture, gender, race, ethnicity and age than we were 7, 20, 22, 30 and most certainly 40 years ago. The “growing pains” of becoming a mature global organization are real but not unsurmountable. The SETAC World Council and GU boards and councils have actively identified challenges and potential solutions to those challenges since late 2018.

We identified the challenge of age. Believe it or not, we are now a four-generation society! We need programs, communications, processes, meetings, workshops and outreach that meet the needs, interests and preferences of members from age 18 to 85 and older. We appreciate and need our senior members, who bring expertise and historic knowledge. They also serve as invaluable mentors and who dedicated a significant part of their careers to founding and building SETAC. We also need our junior members who are our future and are ready to make their own mark in environmental science. We need to keep pace with both technology and scientific direction so that all our generations benefit from forward-thinking global impact.

We identified the challenge of economics. SETAC GU’s and countries within GUs run the full spectrum of economies. In some of our smaller GUs, we are faced with often rapidly fluctuating economies that slow their growth and the advancement of the SETAC mission because members (or those who would like to become members) find they can no longer afford to support the organization. There are economic challenges in banking systems, which impact hosting meetings and workshops. And, there are economic challenges for travel that limit participation in even regional meetings. We are exploring solutions and hope to introduce them over the next year.

We identified the challenge of social norms. SETAC has members from more than 100 countries. No two are alike. We looked at other successful international organizations. What we have in common with them is our firm commitment to our mission, vision, policies and principles; they provide the foundation for a global community. We are learning from those other successful organizations and working with our GU leaders to better understand how member needs vary between regions, branches or chapters. It is important that SETAC provides options that are flexible enough to complement the unique economic constraints, scientific directions and social norms of SETAC members everywhere. The solutions we are pursuing will promote SETAC’s mission, sustainability and growth and while providing the needed flexibility.

This year, we will select a new Global Executive Director. We will conduct an IT audit and create a plan to set in motion the update of our IT. We will determine the changes SETAC must make to its business and membership models to keep SETAC sustainable and four generations of members engaged. We will formalize a host of undocumented policies and update others, from ethics to the structure of global committees. We will hold a World Congress in Singapore, two GU annual meetings in Dublin and Fort Worth, and a host of chapter and branch annual meetings, focused topic meetings and workshops. We will continue to streamline processes and empower staff to use their expertise, skills and creativity to do the business of SETAC. It is important that we are all part of One SETAC.

You will hear more about these and other challenges and proposed solutions over the next several months in communications from SETAC, from GU boards and councils, and from me. We will be talking about them in Dublin, Singapore and Fort Worth; in the Globe, SETAC News and through direct email. If you have questions or ideas about any of them, please reach out to me; you all have great ideas and lots of energy to bring to SETAC!

Our goal for the year is to lead and manage SETAC to ensure members from all parts understand how to get the most out of being a SETACer, the expectations of them as members, and increase the number that are fully involved in One SETAC so that SETAC has impact. We have taken on a lot for this year, and I believe we are ready for the “Big Lift of 2020,” a year of preparing for and taking on change.

I really am eager to help us succeed, and I wish all of you a healthy, peaceful and productive year!

Author’s contact information: reiley-mc@comcast.net

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