By Amy Starecheski
February 2022 Newsletter
Dear OHA Members:
I hope you and yours made it through the omicron surge and are perhaps enjoying some opening up of life as we begin to look towards spring. In New York City we are beginning to have some warmer days in the mix, and the citywide mood on those days is ecstatic. I am eagerly waiting to see what it will feel like when the flowers come out.
The team at OHA has been busy during the long, dark winter. Our standing committees and awards committees are now all filled for the year and are hard at work. Standing committees and task forces are four months into their 2021-22 plans and getting ready to submit mid-winter reports. After two years of convening online, Council has decided to resume in-person meetings for mid-winter, and we’re all getting ready to travel to LA, where we will try out the Annual Meeting hotel. We will be sure to share our restaurant-scouting results with you via the local arrangements committee.
Over the past few years, Council and the Finance Committee have been talking about how to make use of our endowment, and have gradually shifted our approach. OHA’s endowment provides financial security and institutional stability, and it took the work and generosity of many, over many years, to build it up to a point where it could effectively serve those roles. Our bylaws and standing resolutions allow us to use up to 5% of the endowment (based on an average of its value over the past three years) in any given year, but as we focused on building it, our general aim was to reinvest any income.
In the past few years, due to smart management, a robust stock market and a transfer of excess cash on hand into the endowment, our endowment has grown substantially. As of late February, the value is $744,710, and we are able to use up to $30,000 of the income this year. As the endowment grew, we began to feel that we could use the income it produces in a more intentional way to support and grow the OHA.
This year, we decided to use up to $15,000 of those funds to support the implementation of our strategic plan, and to allow our task forces and standing committees to lead that work. We created an open process where committees and task forces can request funds to support their projects, and Council will be evaluating and responding to those requests when we meet in March. Stay tuned for news of what our committees create!
We also allocated endowment income to support our transition to a new executive office at the end of 2022, when our contract with Middle Tennessee State University expires.
We have also continued to talk about how best to support and acknowledge the labor that goes into making the OHA the lively organization we all enjoy and create truly inclusive paths to leadership and service. As part of the opening up of committee funding requests, I drafted a document that explains who the OHA pays, and for what, thinking that this document may also be useful as part of a larger conversation about labor in the OHA. As a next step in that conversation, I will be convening a gathering this spring for current and recent OHA volunteers to share what has made service possible for them, as well as barriers to participation. If you’d like to help organize and shape that conversation, please let me know.
Speaking of leadership and service, we are planning for OHA elections. This year members will be electing a new first vice president, two new members of Council, three new members of the Nominating Committee, and a brand new Committee on Committees, which will lead a more inclusive and transparent process of appointing members to OHA’s standing committees (until now the president has done this). We put out a call for volunteers and nominations for all of these roles, and Nominating Committee and Council will be working in March on creating slates for those elections. If you’re interested in running, it’s not quite too late! You can contact me (email@example.com), or the Nominating Committee co-chairs.
It is truly an honor to serve OHA and an inspiration to see all of the care and energy you all put into your work, this field and this organization.