Serving Has Been a Privilege

As my time serving NAGC as its President winds down, I have been taking stock in what we have attempted to accomplish over the past two years. From my perspective, this period within NAGC’s history has been both a time of transition and continuity, during which we have seen incremental improvement. In the past two years, we experienced the resignation of Nancy Green, the previous Executive Director (ED), who had served NAGC for more than 10 years. We relied on Jane Clarenbach to wear two hats for six months, including that of interim ED, while we searched for Nancy’s replacement. The NAGC Office staff worked extra hard, and I modified my role as president to include a different type of interaction and set of responsibilities with the NAGC Office. During this time we carried out the search process for the new ED, recently hiring M. René Islas for this position. We also held elections twice, with some new professionals coming aboard to help the cause and others shifting to different roles. All of these changes could have shaken an organization, but with the dedication of the large number of people who carry the weight of the work within NAGC, we soldiered forward with grace. Overseeing these sorts of evolutionary change are largely behind-the-scenes activities, which, if done well, leave the organization poised to more fully reach its objectives. I believe we are at that place.

One of our primary goals as an organization over the past two years has been to enhance the diversity of NAGC (and the field, to the extent that we could). This effort was also aimed at creating new leadership opportunities within NAGC as a means to make it a more equitable professional organization within which to work. I am proud to report that several such leadership opportunities have been established. For example, in the past two years a new Special Interest Group (SIG), Gifted Racial Accountability and Commitment to Equity (GRACE), and a new Network (previously a SIG), entitled Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, and Questioning (GLBTQ), were created. Both the new network and SIG were the outcomes of grassroots efforts within NAGC. These new entities are important to NAGC’s ability to more fully represent its membership and the children we serve. I am pleased to have been the first NAGC president to use the authority to appoint someone to the board of directors. In this case, James Moore, III brings a new voice and perspective as well as vast experience to the board’s deliberations and decisions.

A third example of progress is the ongoing development of diversity materials for administrators that will be available online. NAGC professionals have taken the lead on this and have worked in a slow and steady manner to create tools for members that respect and support diversity in our communities.  These examples are very exciting to me, as they illustrate a longstanding commitment that is playing out in real time and in an intentional manner.

Some of the other enhancements of NAGC over the past two years are in the development efforts and the updating of the association’s website as well as less obvious software utilized for many of the functional aspects of the NAGC staff’s work. These are not the most sensational changes, but are very important, nonetheless. The new software allows for better access to information about and communication with our membership in ways not possible before. They allow us to provide greater service to our membership and will help us reach our diversity goals, as well. The new website is not only more attractive, but also more user friendly, rich with resources for members and visitors.

On a more personal note, outside of the responsibilities of being the President of NAGC, but consistent with the diversity goals guiding our work has been the establishment and growth of the university reception held during the NAGC Convention and in the main hotel. This joint reception brings approximately 500 professionals together to meet, reconnect, celebrate, mend fences, and so forth. This effort was begun about five years ago when three universities joined forces. The next year eight universities came together, and last year 11 universities participated. While a bit of work to coordinate, it has been inspiring to see so many people in our field come together for a sustained period of time. It has been a personal joy to introduce students of mine to some of the great minds in the field. The NAGC Convention provides a platform upon which to build these important relationships.

Before I take my leave, I want to thank Paula Olszewski-Kubilius for her incredibly valuable guidance over the past two years; Nancy Green for her wisdom and patience as I learned the ropes; George Betts for his support and kindness; the NAGC Board for its thoughtfulness and seriousness about its work; the School of Education at William & Mary for allowing me the time to serve in this manner; Kim Chandler for her insights and advice on Board topics; and Jennifer Riedl Cross for being my sounding board, calming agent, provider of encouragement, and advisor throughout my term as President and for the past 40 years. I would also like to thank Rena Subotnik, Susan Johnsen, Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Joel Macintosh, and Jim Gallagher for encouraging me to run for this position and for being longstanding supporters of mine. And finally, to Larry Coleman, my mentor and friend for 30 years: While we did not get to see this dream realized together, I know that he would be very proud that NAGC has become a place that increasingly welcomes outsiders into leadership roles to the extent that three decades ago, we could not have even imagined being possible. Of course, if Larry (a true believer in equal rights for all) were here today, he would be first to say that work still needs to be done in this area.

I have been honored to serve and to work on behalf of gifted children for more than 30 years. I consider this not merely a profession, but also a calling. While our county is experiencing myriad cultural changes that affect professional organizations in profound and yet unpredictable ways, I am very confident about the future of NAGC and its work. I am confident because, as has always been the case, NAGC is made up of thousands of hard-working, dedicated individuals who want to make the world a better place.  For this reason, to serve as the President of NAGC has been a privilege.