Dear AFTA Members:
As my term as president comes to an end, I want to thank all of you for your support and commitment to the work of AFTA. I feel honored and privileged to have served.
Over the past several years, AFTA has faced enormous challenges - both internally and within our political and social climate. The comments on the listserv and emails led to difficult conversations, dealing with racism, white privilege, power, and intersectionality. Two presidents resigned. Our financial struggles forced us to restructure and terminate the position of executive director.
The political climate, fraught with racism, misogyny, nationalism, islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia, etc. has challenged us in our work to protect families and communities. Families are being torn asunder, creating unfathomable anxieties, especially for the children. The assault on our environment, science, education, health care and indeed on all working people has been nonstop. I am sure we will experience the damage for years and years to come.
With all of this, AFTA remains strong. The conference program committee for our meeting this year in Philadelphia, chaired by Rachel Dash and DeAnna Harris-McKoy, worked hard to integrate healing dialogues, powerful plenaries, and interesting and relevant presentations and interest groups. The feedback has been positive, with many comments that this was one of the best meetings attended. Several renewed their membership during and following the meeting to voice their support of the organization, and of the work that is being done by its members.
One of our greatest benefits and strengths is the relationships that are formed within AFTA, and renewed at the annual meetings. Much formal and informal learning that we then take back to our professional lives takes place through our conversations and dialogues with each other.
Committees and their chairs are where the bulk of our internal work is done. We have had phenomenal leaders doing phenomenal work. That work continues no matter the president, executive committee or the board. I urge members to get involved. Join a committee. Participate and contribute to AFTA. Let your strong voice be heard.
At the end of my term on June 30, 2017, Kim Cox, our Director of Operations and one of the holders of AFTA’s institutional memory, will be leaving this position. Thankfully, she will be staying on as a consultant. We have hired an exceptional woman, Nikia Coley, who will be picking up many of Kim’s responsibilities. Kim will continue to mentor her. Nikia was instrumental in helping make the Philadelphia meeting so successful. They make a good team. My sincerest thanks to Kim for her unending patience, guidance, hard work and energy that has kept AFTA functioning. And I am sure that Nikia will be able to quickly learn the ropes.
I want to especially thank the executive committee with whom I have had the honor to work: Shawn Giammattei as vice president, John Lawless as treasurer, Karni Kissil as secretary and Vicki Dickerson as president elect. Additionally, Gonzalo Bacigalupe worked with us closely as past president. We worked closely as a team for AFTA, over many hours. Their support and commitment is truly appreciated. The Board of Directors, an extraordinary group of people, was an active ally -- guiding policy and financial issues dedicated to ensuring the health of AFTA. Thank you.
We have new officers - Vicki Dickerson (President), Lascelles Black (Vice-President), Ramon Rojano (Treasurer) and Linda Longo-Lockspeiser (Secretary). We also have 4 new board members -Tim Baima, Lisa Bibuld, Rosy De Prado and Kyle Killian. Due to new family responsibilities, Saliha Bava has stepped down during her final year, and Sueli Petry will complete the term in her place. I wish all of them good luck. I believe AFTA is in good hands.
Again, my many thanks to all of you who have helped make AFTA the professional home for so many of us, and who continue to make AFTA relevant to the families and communities we serve.
Jane C. Bardavid, LCSW