Like all of us, VAF has had to make a number of adjustments to adapt to the corona virus pandemic, and this supplemental issue of VAN is one of those efforts.
Here we will provide substitutes for a number of the events that we would usually undertake during our annual conference. First, our officers will provide brief reports that summarize the health of our organization and our plans for its future. Of particular importance is the report of the first vice president and the nominating committee, which will present the slate for officers and directors for election. Members can then vote electronically through our website, a first for our organization. Finally, we are pleased to announce the recipients of our awards and prizes, where we honor those who do the best work in our field.
Through the hard work of its members, VAF has so far successfully navigated a path through these challenging times. We have shifted the work of the Board to the virtual space, and with this Annual Report and Election, we aim to keep the membership involved and informed about governance and decision-making. While we note a drop in membership in our Secretary’s Report, we had exceptional participation in our first time Virtual Conference and are hopeful that ‘guest members,’ having seen what we can do, will decide to join and swell our numbers. As you will see in the Treasurer’s Report, VAF has not suffered financially during this period, primarily due to the security provided by our extraordinary anonymous donor. Although much remains uncertain, planning and research for our future conferences is moving forward, and we are confident that our organizers will be adaptable and creative in adjusting our signature events to the new normal.
While these new circumstances absorbed much of our attention, VAF’s Board and committees moved forward with their traditional work, and most of our programs are proceeding apace. Our publications remain vibrant, and we are especially pleased with the response to our call for new editors for Buildings & Landscapes, and should soon have announcements for these. We are continuing assessments of our various modes of communication and are planning a survey to solicit input from the membership about how VAF is performing for its members. Paid support will soon improve our membership and event management and assist updates to our website. We are also in a position to offer some assistance to those who have been so generous with us when we were forced to postpone our San Antonio conference. The Board has voted $5,000 in donations to San Antonio organizations that are providing emergency assistance in the pandemic, to assist those in the hospitality industry and to selected local nonprofits.
VAF thrives because of the hard work of its members, and at no time has that been clearer than during these recent weeks. So many VAFers have taken on additional tasks and new ventures, with humor and grace, it has been a privilege to be part of this extraordinary effort. My thanks go to them once again, and to you all for your patience and support.
Claire Dempsey, VAF President