President’s Report: Thanks and Looking Forward

Leigh A. Leslie, Ph.D., NCFR President
/ Winter 2020 NCFR Report

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As 2020 comes to an end, I want to offer several thanks and a few updates on our antiracism efforts. I want to thank the 2020 Conference Chair, Brad van Eeden-Moorefield, and the Program Committee and NCFR staff for working tirelessly to move this year’s conference online and to provide attendees with the best professional development experience possible. While I know many of us missed the face-to-face networking and dinners with friends and colleagues, the essence of the conference, providing the latest advances in Family Science research, practice, and teaching, was upheld.

On a different front, I want to thank the 66 members who attended the Board of Directors’ Listening Sessions on Addressing Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice. The discussions were informative and instructive and will help structure the ongoing work of the organization as we tackle racism in our organization and discipline, as well as the places we work. Many specific ideas, changes, and actions were recommended, and certain themes emerged that should guide the work of not only the board but all NCFR entities, including the Certified Family Life Educator credential, sections, focus groups, and journals. Put concisely, here are the primary themes that emerged, in no specific order:

  • Increase the organization’s capacity for quicker response to social justice issues.
  • Address pipeline issues for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) scholars and professionals.
  • Address White supremacy in the organization and discipline and how whiteness is currently being maintained.
  • Improve accessibility to resources and skills needed by members to do antiracist and social justice work in the places they are employed.
  • Develop standards for promoting antiracism and social justice in our teaching, programming, research, journals, and other organizational or disciplinary products.

This is a needed and challenging agenda and will take the efforts of not just the NCFR board and staff, but all members, as we prioritize and determine next steps. I want to let you know that as of the time of this writing in September, the board has initiated a few steps to address pipeline issues for BIPOC scholars and professionals.

First, we instituted the NCFR Student Access Grant, which provided registration for this year’s conference, as well as a 1-year membership, for students from historically marginalized racial or ethnic populations. These grants were supported by member donations and I want to thank all of you who gave to this very valuable effort. As the year goes on, we as an organization will need to find ways to support these grant recipients, many of whom are undergraduates and first-time attendees, as they explore the professional growth offered by NCFR.

The second step taken, in response to a request by members, was that NCFR signed on to the American Sociological Association Statement on Student Teaching Evaluations (see Research has shown that student teaching evaluations can be biased against faculty of color and female faculty and the statement makes recommendations on how to fairly integrate them into a holistic approach to teaching evaluation. We then forwarded this information to the Academic Administration and Leadership Focus Group to encourage its members to consider these data when reviewing privilege and tenure as well as merit decisions at their schools. By the time you read this article, I trust we will have identified and initiated additional steps to address the agenda laid out in the listening sessions.

With much gratitude and admiration, my final thanks goes to the members of the NCFR Board whose terms are ending at the close of 2020. Brian Ogolsky, April Few-Demo, Bethany Letiecq, and Andrea Roach have worked tirelessly on behalf of NCFR members over the past 3 years. They are each strong advocates for families, for our discipline, and for the organization, and it has been an honor to serve with them.

I warmly welcome Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Roudi Roy, and Ruben Anguiano as they begin their terms on the board. I speak for the entire board when I say we approach 2021 with hope and determination for continued progress toward racial justice. I know that many sections and groups in the organization are taking steps to address systemic racism. My hope is that in 2021 we develop a coordinated approach that sees ongoing action on many levels to make our field and our organization more socially just. We continue to welcome your feedback and your participation in this effort. Please continue to reach out to the board through the Contact the Board link on the bottom of any page on the NCFR website. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and just 2021!