These unprecedented times have seen all of our lives disrupted. Some of us are fortunate, with those disruptions limited to an adjustment to working from home, the struggle to find certain items at the grocery store, or perhaps a canceled trip. Others are more notably impacted, with many of our members dealing with job loss, financial challenges, or directly facing this disease, either personally or through a loved one. Before I go further, I do sincerely hope that, in the spectrum of disruption, you are among the fortunate.
At a time when lives and livelihoods are threatened, it might seem absurd to be worrying about a conference that’s still almost six months away. What’s more, so much will change in the next few weeks, let alone the next few months, that contingency planning seems foolhardy. However, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” I would adapt this axiom to say that it also takes as much energy to worry as it does to plan, so the NERA leadership has elected the latter of those two options.
I wish that this could be a message of certainty and decisiveness. I would love to present you with firm deadlines by which we will know how objective criteria will inform specific actions. However, I do not feel that we are in that position at this time, specifically in relation to the NERA 2020 Conference. This may change in as little as the next few days or weeks, but as I write this, I do not think we are in a position to make this choice. While I cannot assure you of what NERA will look like come October, I can assure you that we are working very hard to fulfill NERA’s mission, serve our members, and navigate these difficult times.
First, the Conference Team—Thai Ong, Madison Holzman, John Rubright, and Andrew Jones—has been working diligently since November to plan for NERA 2020. This was incredibly helpful when news of the Coronavirus began to break because when AERA was canceled, NCME postponed, and the status of NERA 2020 put into question, they were already a functional team. What’s more, the NERA Officers and Board of Directors have been incredibly active and responsive to requests as we have weighed our options. The Conference Team will provide an update later in this issue, and I would encourage you to read that to understand where we sit, how we are working, and where we hope to be in October.
As for NERA as an organization, the Conference remains a large part, but there are other factors to consider as well. Tia Fechter and Steven Holtzman— NERA Treasurer and President-Elect, respectively—have continued efforts to renew memberships. While we understand that these are trying and uncertain times, we felt that it was important to begin this process to make sure we keep the metaphorical doors open. Additionally, I have also been working with Past-President, Rochelle Michel—along with several other Past-Presidents—to continue our sponsorship efforts. Especially now, support from our partner organizations is essential to maintaining NERA’s stability.
Given everything that’s going on, I can understand that, to some, receiving a request to renew your membership, or a survey about a potential conference in the fall may seem strange, silly, or even insensitive. Believe me; I can understand because I have felt that way at many points in the last few months. However, there is another quote from one of my favorite movies: “Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.” Those of us who have elected to serve NERA have accepted a responsibility to continue the excellence of this organization. If we did not continue with these activities, we would be negligent, subsequently threatening the health of NERA. We hope to be understanding and supportive through this pandemic, and we hope that you feel the same way as we work to continue NERA’s work.