A Message From The President

January 2021

It’s 2021!! Hallelujah!! And not a moment too soon!

I am so sure that 2021 will be so much better than 2020 (a low bar, to be sure, but still) that I rejoice and delight in the calendar change. I loved a message that Leslie Stein sent out – “I don’t need to know the entire plot for 2021, I just need to understand if I should buy skincare and sweatpants or a purse and some shoes.” Just to be clear, I’m not buying any additional sweatpants!

While I’m optimistic that a change is coming, I also truly hope that we will learn a few things from this dumpster-fire of a year that can inform our lives going forward, to wit:

1 – Scientists, medical doctors and personnel, and educators should be respected and HEARD. These people have spent years being educated in their disciplines, and they know what they are talking about. Please do not discount them because you hope what they’re saying isn’t accurate. This applies to Covid, of course, but also climate change, how best to run schools, energy issues, and a host of other matters. If the majority of specialists in any field agree, they’re probably correct!

2 – Social change is complicated, difficult and time consuming. I don’t say that as an excuse and I sincerely believe in the Black Lives Matter movement, but implicit bias is so built into our organizational structures that it makes change slow, even though persistent. As a recent piece in the New York Times stated, “People change when they are put in new environments, in permanent relationship with diverse groups of people.” That’s why it is so important to keep Athena and your offices and our schools and neighborhoods diverse. Those are goals worth pursuing.

3 – It’s a time to look forward, not back. Let’s move forward to end this stupid pandemic, let’s embrace this new administration, whether you voted for it or not, and let’s look forward to the time, surely not that far away, when we can all gather in person and face-to-face! It may not be until the next Athena year (will my entire presidency be on zoom?! – sorta looks that way!), but it is coming at some point in 2021 – And that’s good news worth celebrating!

Despite my admonition above to “look forward,” I would be very remiss not to look back a little to thank Marian McCulloch, Jessica Costello, and the entire hospitality committee for arranging our wonderful and remote holiday party! The gift boxes were innovative and fun, the Blake chorus inspirational, and the breakout sessions a great way to catch up with old friends. Well done, friends! I also look back to thank Leslie Stein, Barbara Bachman, and the bonus committee for the special “how we celebrate“ holidays bonus. I appreciate Bonnie Saks, Bonnie Carr, and Renee Vaughn sharing various holiday traditions with us, and look forward to tasting Denise Chavez’s escargot soon when we’re back in person. Thanks to the committee and all the presenters for an entertaining and informative bonus! Finally, I look back to thank our great administrator for all her work during these trying times, figuring out how to get things done remotely – thanks so much, Johanne! That’s it – all looking forward now!