Looking Back, Looking Forward
November 2022 Newsletter
As I step into the role of Oral History Association president, I find myself both looking back and looking forward. I look back with a profound sense of gratitude for the many people who have not only sustained the OHA through the pandemic years but also kept it growing and improving in service to our mission.
Our OHA Executive Office at Middle Tennessee State University—our faithful OHA Co-Executive Directors Kris McCusker and Louis Kyriakoudes, and Faith Bagley, our program associate—are certainly at the top of that list. They conclude their five-year term as our official “home” at the end of the year, and their dedication and creativity have meant so much to the OHA in that time.
They leave us with the largest membership in our history; in as financially secure a position as we have ever been; and with an intentional set of operations for future executive offices to follow. Simply put, they’ve helped move the OHA to the next level. We’ve been lucky to have them, and we’ll be forever grateful for their service to the OHA.
The work of our executive office is what it is because of scores of volunteers who commit their personal time to implementing the mission of the OHA. The gratitude I feel extends to all of them, too, including the many dedicated members who staff our committees (or serve as committee chairs), as well as those who guide our task forces and who build community through our caucuses. Our volunteers include our OHA Council, which meets monthly to set policy and ensure our mission and operations remain pertinent to all our current and future members. As an all-volunteer organization, I know you share my gratitude for all those who give of their time to make that OHA what it is.
The gratitude I feel as I look back comingles with excitement as I look forward to the year ahead. It’s an excitement for the transition to our new executive office at the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University. Stephen Sloan will be the OHA’s new executive director and Steven Sielaff the assistant director. I know both are going to continue to make the OHA into the member-focused organization we want and need.
I’m equally excited at the commitment the OHA has made to commit some of its financial and other resources to promote the success of Indigenous oral historians and support meaningful and ethical oral historical projects within Indigenous communities. Over the next year, we’ll be meeting with Indigenous partners and organizations throughout the field to hear from them about ways the OHA can support their goals and needs. While the OHA Indigenous Initiative takes shape, I hope you’ll consider making your own contribution to the fund. The annual Day of Giving—on Tuesday, Nov. 29—is a great time to do so.
Finally, I’m excited about YOU, our members. Hundreds of members—returning and new—joined us in Los Angeles for our first in-person conference in three years. I know hundreds of you will also be joining us online, as we continue to develop an exciting program of professional and social events related to oral history throughout the year. And I hope you’ll join us in October 2023, as we gather for our next annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
We’re at an exciting time in our organizational history. We’re grateful and excited to have you all as part of it. See you in 2023!
Tomás F. Summers Sandoval Jr.