Reflections on Receiving the President-for-a-Day Award

Gizem Erdem, Ph.D., LMFT
/ Spring 2019 NCFR Report

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I call NCFR my scholarly home where I have grown both professionally and personally through the years. Every annual conference is a reunion with friends and colleagues who have given their hearts, minds, and souls to the study of families. This year’s conference was even more special for me because I had the privilege of receiving the 2018 NCFR President-for-a-Day Award of the Affiliate Councils and I shadowed NCFR President Anisa M. Zvonkovic for two days.

Anisa was genuinely interested in hearing about my research and ideas about social justice issues, diversity, and culture, as well as my career path as a junior scholar – but more importantly she had the gift of balancing acceptance and positive regard with mentoring and feedback for future professional growth. Through our informal conversations, she gently pushed me to think about what it means to be a young woman in academia and how I can construct my unique professional identity, despite the gender stereotypes and cultural barriers. Even months after the conference, her advice on that matter stayed with me; I carry it to every department meeting I attend, every course I teach, and every professional interaction I have on campus. Anisa also graciously invited me to attend several symposiums, plenaries, workshops, and meetings with her. She introduced me to senior researchers including her friends/colleagues, past graduate students, her own professors, and NCFR staff.

It was a great opportunity for networking, and also a chance to see the institutional mechanisms and organization of NCFR. I was surprised at how little I knew about the management processes of NCFR, roles of academic and staff in leadership, and the extent of diligence, effort, and commitment they put into their work. It was great to meet and interact with leaders who are the building blocks of the organization.

Reflecting back, I notice isomorphic processes between the organizational characteristics of NCFR and its leaders, friendship and collaboration between senior researchers and my own relationships with colleagues as all are grounded in a sense of belonging to NCFR. It is as if there is an intergenerational transmission of values, commitment, scholarly work and dedication from senior researchers to new professionals, and then graduate students across the years. I am proud to be part of this family system!

The 2020 deadline to apply for this year's President-for-a-Day Award is Monday, June 1.

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