By Amy Starecheski
April 2022 Newsletter
Dear OHA Members:
We are now halfway through OHA’s working year, which stretches between annual meetings, and halfway through my term as president.
Council met in March in Los Angeles, our first time together in person since February 2020. It was such a joy to share food and walks, and we got a lot done. To close our meeting, we each took some time to go over our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan and see how we were doing. It was exciting! Even while living through a pandemic, we have made significant progress on our goals.
One thing we realized is that we need information to help us set and meet goals. This spring we have been working with the Equity Audit Task Force to help us develop the baseline historical and contemporary knowledge to shape and to evaluate our ongoing equity and inclusion work.
As part of that work, at the end of May folks from the Equity Audit Task Force and I will be co-hosting a Town Hall conversation for those who serve in OHA to discuss our culture of service and how it shapes our organization. Like all professional organizations, OHA relies almost entirely on volunteer labor. We are living in a time when the kinds of jobs–especially tenure-track academic jobs–that support people to do professional service as part of their work are waning. And oral history as a practice and a field should not be centered in the academy just because of the ways that service is built into those jobs.
How can OHA develop a culture of service and concrete practices for developing and supporting leaders that can help anyone who cares about oral history take part in our work? If you want to take part in that conversation, sign up here. You can also share your thoughts in this survey. Results will be shared with Council as well as those who sign up for the Town Hall. I expect that this survey and conversation will be only one step in an ongoing process of exploring and improving our culture of service.