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AAA Announces Retirement of Long-Time Executive Director

William (Bill) Davis, who has held the position of Executive Director of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) for 16 years, announced his intention to retire from the post early next year.

Under Bill’s leadership, the AAA experienced 16 years of balanced budgets and growth of its operating reserves. In addition to his constant efforts to increase political support for federal grants for anthropological research, Davis also helped to raise more than $6 million in grants to develop and fund cornerstone projects of the Association, including the award-winning public education project RACE: Are We So Different? and the world’s largest anthropological electronic library, AnthroSource.  At the same time, he worked to expand the reach of anthropological scholarship through participation in global accessibility programs.

Bill has also been a key player in expanding public engagement and drawing attention to the contributions of anthropologists. He built an extensive print and electronic media relations program, helped create forums that facilitated anthropological participation in such debates as those over the US census categories, the Human Terrain System, and the displacement of indigenous populations, and  has consistently kept the association current on national and local legislative and policy proposals that affect the discipline and the profession.

Thinking globally, Davis ushered the AAA into the digital age with the development of AAA’s first website, paving the way for active engagement with social media. He extended AAA’s international relations through the inception of the Association’s Committee on World Anthropologies and active membership in the World Council of Anthropological Associations. By obtaining official NGO status for the AAA at the UN, Bill increased access of anthropologists to international policy-making.

“Bill has served the association with dedication and diligence, improving our management functions and solvency, transforming our publications program and amplifying anthropology’s visibility nationally and internationally,” says AAA President Leith Mullings.

Outside of AAA, Davis has contributed greatly to the Association community. He is the Past President of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives. Davis has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Humanities Alliance, and Chair of the Executive Committee of its Conference of Administrative Officers of the American Council of Learned Societies. He is also an active participant in BoardSource, the American Society of Association Executives, the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers.

In a statement released earlier today, Davis noted that “I feel both fortunate and proud to have had the opportunity over these years to represent the interests of anthropologists and anthropology to the world of scholarly societies, higher education, government, the media and the public at large. My position has been extremely rewarding both professionally and personally, and I am truly grateful for the wonderful opportunities I have had in serving the members of this association.”

JDG Associates has been retained by the AAA to conduct the search for its next Executive Director.

Humanities at the Forefront of Congressional Vote on National Budget

The Annual Meeting for the National Humanities Alliance took place on March 7, 2011 at George Washington University, followed by Humanities Advocacy Day on March 8 at Capitol Hill. The Annual Meeting was an opportunity to provide concrete ways to exemplify and frame arguments to support the humanities, skills meeting participants would need for the following Advocacy day.

AAA’s Director of Public Affairs, Damon Dozier was featured in a three member panel that exemplified the field of humanities. Dozier emphasized the importance of education through the biological sciences and cultural perceptions o f race. Through the RACE: Are We So Different? public education program, AAA has spurred dialogue across the nation to embrace cultural differences and rethink preconceived notions of race and racism in the United States.

Bill Davis, AAA’s Executive Director, joined NHA’s national delegation that met with congressional members that hold stature within congressional committees. Damon Dozier and Joslyn Osten, Marketing & Communications Manager, joined first-time constituent lobbyist, Hollis Clayson of Northwestern University in meeting with the representatives of Illinois. While all meetings with congressional staffers were fruitful, feedback led to the conclusion that the representatives who have a history of supporting humanities will work out the best possible solution to minimize the financial impact of the national budget on humanities funding.

Although NHA’s Advocacy Day was a success, lobbying for humanities funding cannot be completed in just one day. Congress will be voting this week and in the coming weeks on bills and revisions to settle the national budget. NHA and AAA need your help in communicating the critical need for funding the research and grant-related programming offered in your communities today. Contact your congressional representative now to demonstrate your support for humanities and visit NHA’s website to stay tuned in to the latest budgetary developments.

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