President’s Column

By Natalie Fousekis

            As summer winds down, the Oral History Association is gearing up and getting excited to see all of you in Salt Lake City this October!  Personally, I am looking forward to one of my favorite weeks of the year when I get to hear about all the remarkable oral history work being done by our members, reconnect with old friends and collaborators and return home energized and full of new ideas.  We look forward to seeing many of you in SLC and, as president, I am excited to share with you what the organization has been working on this past year. 

            Before you all arrive, the OHA Council will be spending all day Tuesday dedicated to strategic planning.  We will be brainstorming about the future direction of the organization, discussing and incorporating feedback from those of you who responded to the survey we circulated this summer and beginning to formulate a draft of our new strategic plan.  Later in the fall, we will continue to revise and share this draft.

            I encourage all of you to attend the OHA business meeting on Saturday morning from 7-8:30 a.m. (yes, I realize it’s early, but we will have coffee and tea available for those who need help being coherent at that hour of the morning).  The business meeting is great place for you to hear what the OHA has been working on, comment on policies and changes proposed by the organization and bring new ideas, thoughts and concerns to the leadership.  It is also the occasion when I will pass the gavel to our incoming president, Allison Tracey-Taylor. With Allison at the helm, OHA’s future is bright!

            Be on the lookout for more surveys and requests for feedback.  The Diversity Committee is seeking your input so they can better serve our membership. Fill out their short survey here:

We will also ask you to provide feedback and comments on our newly developed sexual harassment policy and on the Archives Principles and Best Practices Committee.  We welcome your insight and input in all of these areas. 

            It is hard to believe I’m wrapping up my year as OHA president.  What I have valued most about my time as part of OHA leadership has been the dedicated group of people I’ve met and worked with – from members serving on committees or on council to the executive office staff.   I’ve felt particularly grateful to OHA and to my oral history work in this crazy, chaotic and sometimes very stressful world we live in.

            Focusing on OHA and this organization’s purpose reminded me weekly how fortunate we all are to do the work that we do and to have an organization that succeeds in promoting our practice and supporting oral historians and oral history work across the U.S. and the globe.

             I also spent a lot of time this past summer listening to interviews with local political women from the Women, Politics and Activism Project I’ve directed for the past six years.  Hearing these women’s voices and their words lifted my spirits.  They tell stories of resilience, triumph and, sometime, defeat.  As I listened, I felt grateful on the most basic level – that these stories, whether important or not, will all be preserved for posterity; that their efforts, whether successful or not, will be remembered. 

            Wishing you all a wonderful end-of-summer and early fall.  Please reach out if you have any thoughts or concerns.  I’ll see you in Salt Lake!

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