June 2018 Newsletter

June 2018

Volume 38

Number 2

In This Issue...

  1. From the Executive Director
  2. News & Announcements
  3. Publications
  4. Sponsor News
  5. 2018 Conference
  6. 2019 Conference
  7. Governance
  8. Sponsors

 From the Executive Director

The Heart of the Conference

 By Roberta Spencer

Conference volunteer selling tshirts

Most not-for-profit organizations have volunteers, a tremendously valuable resource. But, our Society is the only one that I know of where the support to our community reaches so far beyond our loyal members. We have a group of devoted family and friends who volunteer each year at the conference. While I like to think of the student volunteers as the backbone of the conference, the friends and family who show up and give their time are its heart.

This June message is a tribute to all our volunteers, with a highlight on the special group, the Sunday Registration Desk Family and Friends Volunteers, the heart of the conference.

The registration desk was historically staffed by local organizers, Society staff, and student volunteers. I remember the Rahn family running the registration desk in Quebec, 1998; Joel Rahn was the Conference Chair. In 2001, the first PhD Colloquium was held on Sunday, and this program continues today. In 2002 the Summer Policy Council Meeting also became a Sunday event. This meant local organizers and staff were expected to attend the PC Meeting and students wanted to attend the Colloquium. Sunday is the busiest registration day of the conference—we were faced with a staffing crisis that created a truly wonderful, new opportunity. We began to actively recruit family volunteers for the registration desk in 2003. Over time, there have been about 100 different family and friend guests at the conference who have signed up to work on Sunday. Our volunteers inspire me as I see this incredible sense of community.registration desk volunteers for ISDCvolunteer photo

The Sunday crew set the tone for the conference. They are often the first contact for weary travelers, perplexed first-timers, and veteran conference attendees. To be ready, our volunteers will have set up the registration area in a way that ensures an orderly sign in, then assist conference-goers with financial and registration issues. They answer countless questions (or know where to find the answers). Their cheerful attitude and pleasant, “Have a great conference!” or frequent hugs with a “Great to see you again!” launch participants confidently into their next conference adventure.

As the day progresses and momentum builds, the volunteers start to talk about common interests, forming bonds with people from around the world, and plans for activities are made. Many have volunteered numerous times, and this is an opportunity to reunite with acquaintances from all over the world. Sally Morrison, who volunteered for numerous conferences all over the world wrote: “It is gratifying to volunteer at SDS conferences because I make some friends and meet new people every time I am behind the registration desk. The only thing you need is a little free time, a good smile to welcome every participant and have fun.”

Christa Milling, a seven-year registration desk volunteer said: “As a regular attendant of the International System Dynamics conferences you usually have very little contact with the folks at the Home Office doing all the magic work to make a conference run. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to get in contact with them on a personal base. What a nice experience. I was part of the team. But most of all, as a conference attendant you meet usually only a small fraction of the participants. As a volunteer you speak with a large variety of people, get to know them and learn a lot from these contacts. Wonderful!”volunteer photo

Stephen Stuntz volunteered in 2012. When he was asked about his experience, he offered, “I was a front desk volunteer at the conference at St. Gallen, Switzerland. It was quite an opportunity to meet people of similar interests from all over the world. The biggest problem was not having enough time with each person who was getting registered to talk to them about why they came and what they expected to learn. It did allow those conversations later when you saw the same people at the break times. Well worth doing.”

Collage of photos of volunteers from various past conferences of the System Dynamics Society

This past year in Cambridge, Linda Hirsch helped provide some memorable activities for family members of attendees. Linda wrote, “I greatly enjoyed planning and leading several days of wonderful, unique tours for a loyal group of 18 visitors. Several have become Facebook friends. We hope to reunite in Iceland. Thanks for adding “Tour Guide” to my skill set and résumé!”

A note sent in from Linda Morecroft, a veteran volunteer: “Volunteering with the SD Society is always fun. I particularly enjoy working at the registration desk and welcoming conference participants, greeting friends who I have known since the Society started, and making new friends. It’s good to see the younger members attending and bringing their families. There is a small cohort of volunteers that regularly help out and we have fun re-connecting. The volunteers with family members have also been on many adventures together during the conference. Often we find conference participants sneak out of the conference to join us on our trips. We have had several memorable trips around Boston and Delft.” 

volunteer photoMaria de Jesus Malczynski, another long-time conference volunteer, wrote "I enjoy volunteering at the SDS conference because of the interesting people I get to meet. For instance, one year I met Martin, Polish, speaks perfect Spanish, and lives in England. I met another Martin, German, who speaks perfect Spanish, is married to a wonderful Chilean woman and lives in Talca, Chile. I met still another Martin who has a wonderful family and lives in Santiago. I met Gloria, a Chapter President, female in a male-dominated field.  I have sat in presentations given by Inge about gender in Nijmegen’s workforce. When my son was 14 and an SDS volunteer, the president of the society sat and chatted with him for a few minutes before the PC reception. I thought that was cool, more importantly, my son thought Erling was cool. The conferences feel like a family reunion where new family members join all of the time."

As a 501(C) organization, the Society is required to report aggregated volunteer time. We have numerous categories of volunteers and titles for our Policy Council, for both standing and ad hoc committees, for Chapter and Special Interest Group volunteers, and for our journal editors. Additionally, each year we have up to 400 volunteer conference paper reviewers plus 90 conference volunteers. This totals close to 16,000 volunteer hours or about eight full-time employees. Wow!

Our volunteers are vital to us. All our volunteer names cannot be listed here, but the personal time and talents that our volunteers offer is genuinely appreciated. They help make each International Conference a success and the System Dynamics Society run smoothly. As always, I would like to say, I am extremely lucky to be part of this fantastic community. Thank you for the opportunity. I look forward to seeing you this summer at the conference in Iceland.

Oh, and this year the Registration Desk will open on Monday – I have no doubt the volunteers are up for that challenge.

 Exciting News

Roberta Spencer and Mark Nelson
Mark Nelson and Roberta Spencer, 2018

With pleasure, we sent an email notice last week announcing the next Executive Director of the System Dynamics Society, Dr. Mark Nelson. I am delighted to welcome Mark!

Mark will be our third Executive Director. Julie Pugh was the first to serve as Executive Director of the System Dynamics Society. She started in the late 1980’s as a dedicated volunteer. Julie served in this role through 1996, when she retired. I started January 1, 1997, as the first professional staff person (part-time), replacing Julie Pugh.

2017 photo: David Andersen, Second VP Finance; Roberta Spencer, Second Executive Director; Julie Pugh, First Executive Director; and Jack Pugh, First VP Finance.

Mark will start with the Society at the beginning of July 2018 and will be attending the Reykjavík, Iceland conference. I look forward to working with Mark and with our expanded staff at Capitol Hill Management Services in my new role, returning to a part-time position. I will step down as Executive Director on August 31, 2018. We are on track, all continuing our efforts to create more stability and strengthen the services provided to the Society and the System Dynamics community.

There will be more information after the conference. In the meantime, please feel free to contact the Society office with any questions or comments. Best, Roberta


System Dynamics Society