This is the year that ASJA turns 70 years old!

In the context of ASJA’s 70th anniversary, the Board of Directors began thinking on a bigger, more strategic, level. The board has had multiple conversations over the past two years about the organization’s vast achievements, as well as its current challenges and goals. Among the challenges, always, is the need to upgrade ASJA’s technology.

“What if ASJA’s Educational Foundation became a bolder organization?” I asked them at our New York meeting last May. “What if the knowledge and expertise of our very experienced members was made available to those who are just starting out? What if we created an enhanced version of the ASJA Educational Foundation that went far beyond conferences and drew on the experiences that our own members had to offer to those who are just starting out?”

We talked for an hour or two. This brain hive of board members added more thoughts. Chief among them was the desire to bring emerging voices from diverse and underserved communities into ASJA’s realm.

A few months later, ASJA’s 70th Anniversary Campaign was born when every member of ASJA’s Board of Directors agreed to contribute. With some other early leadership gifts, we have already been able to raise nearly $20,000 of a goal that is $150,000. You’ll hear from the campaign’s leaders very soon about ways that you also can contribute.

It didn’t take long for ASJA to find some funds to begin nurturing emerging voices, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It is no coincidence that ASJA also landed a $35,000 grant from the National Institute of Health Care Management Foundation by the end of 2017 to launch a national reporting project on Gender Identity and Mental Health. This program is providing mini-grants to ASJA members who publish on the topic, as well as providing awards for teen writers willing to address the issue in essays.

You’re going to hear more about ASJA’s 70th anniversary plans throughout this year. Among them will be an online charity auction, a July 4 giving campaign, a memorial wall honoring those who contributed to your writing career and more. We are busy approaching sponsors and potential funders, hoping that our goal for further enhancing the Educational Foundation will soon be realized. Meanwhile, let us know if you can help out in this huge endeavor.

We are very fortunate that two of ASJA’s long-term members, Brooke Stoddard and Neil O’Hara, agreed to serve as chair and treasurer, respectively, of this campaign. You’ll hear more from both of them in the coming months, but take a look at Brooke’s Q&A regarding the campaign—as well as the diagram that depicts what an enhanced Educational Foundation can look like.

On a side note, I want to thank a few other super volunteers: Austin conference co-chairs Susan Johnston Taylor and Debbie Blumberg and their amazing team created yet another unforgettable conference.

Let’s plan to celebrate the 70th when I see you in New York.

All the best,