President's Report: Looking Forward to 2021

Leigh A. Leslie, Ph.D., NCFR President
/ NCFR Report, Spring 2021


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Thankfully, 2020 has finally come to an end, and we have entered 2021 with optimism, caution, and ongoing concern for those so dramatically impacted by the pandemic. I also hope that as an organization, NCFR enters 2021 with a determination to continue the important work we have recently begun. This year will see predictable, cyclical work, such as the selection of a new editor for Journal of Family Theory & Review, as well as elections, professional development webinars, and of course the signature event of our annual conference. In 2021 the organization will also be engaging in three major initiatives from the NCFR Board of Directors that will need member engagement and input.

As most of you know, there has been an organization-wide commitment to the board’s racial justice initiative. It is exciting to see sections, focus groups, and members at large taking initial steps to tackle needed changes in the organization and our places of employment. Even meeting virtually, a great deal of energy was generated at the conference for continued work toward the goals of becoming more antiracist and socially just as a discipline and an organization. This year will see several next steps in what will be a multiyear effort. This year we will issue a call to members for resources that can be shared across the organization to address racism and enhance inclusiveness and social justice in our scholarship, teaching, and workplace practices. These may be resources that members have been introduced to from other sources or resources that they themselves have generated (I want to add that all resources will be duly referenced and cited in order to recognize the hard work of members who have been dedicated to these issues for years). In the first part of this year, we will also develop some type of clearinghouse so that the organization can keep track of and publicize all the efforts being undertaken for this initiative by different groups within it. This will hopefully facilitate collaboration and further implementation of needed changes. An additional major effort associated with the racial justice initiative is collaboration among the editors and editorial boards of NCFR’s three journals to promote antiracist family scholarship. If you have not already seen it, I encourage you to read the joint call for papers and consider submitting (see Finally, by the end of 2021, the board hopes to have generated a multiyear strategy for systematically addressing the goals of the racial justice initiative of dismantling racism and promoting social justice in the discipline, the organization, and the place in which we work.

A second area of work undertaken by the board for 2021 will be less familiar to members at present, although you will hear more about it in the coming months. Currently, the board, in conjunction with a member committee, are undertaking a review, revision, and consolidation of the multiple sets of ethical guidelines in NCFR. The primary goal of this effort is to develop a single, actionable set of ethical standards. By “actionable,” we mean that grievances can be filed against members for violations of the organization’s ethical standards. Although our goal is for the review process to be primarily educational and reparative, sanctions could include a loss of membership, if appropriate. This effort is undertaken to align our ethics procedures with best practices common to professional associations such as ours. The board hopes to have a first draft of these ethical standards and procedures by summer 2021, at which time they will be distributed to the membership for review and comment. Final actions on these standards will not be taken until members are given ample opportunity to weigh in.

Finally, 2021 will see a continuation of the Advancing Family Science Initiative. This important work began approximately 5 years ago but was set aside as other tasks took priority in the intervening years. This renewed focus is based on both a continuing desire to see our field recognized as the go-to experts on family well-being research and practice and a recognition that the post-pandemic future is likely to see many changes in higher education. We, as a discipline, need to be a stronger voice for families, particularly vulnerable families, and we need to have a seat at the table as higher education evolves in coming years. While the work of the Advancing Family Science Initiative will be overseen by NCFR staff, there will continue to be many opportunities for member input and participation.

As we begin 2021 let us double down to do this crucial work together. As always, it is very important for the board to hear your voices. While we will frequently ask for input, please feel free to send the board your thoughts at any time throughout the year by clicking on the Contact the Board link at the bottom of any page on the NCFR website. Here’s to a productive 2021.