Dear ARNOVA Community,
I want to let you know that we’re hearing member concerns about our conference in Orlando this year, given the troubling legislative news coming from Florida. There are no easy answers to resolve this tension; either going virtual or moving to a new location would entail cancelling our contract (which was signed in 2018) with the conference hotel. This cancellation would result in fines over $200,000, essentially devastating the association. Moving to a hybrid delivery format also would entail substantial costs that would put the viability of ARNOVA in question.
At the same time, if even one ARNOVAn feels unsafe or unwelcome, all of us want to show solidarity and support. I can share some encouraging news, while acknowledging that we are continuing to plan and prepare for any challenges that may arise between now and the conference, or during our time in Florida:
First, a Teach-In, supported and sponsored by a number of organizations including ARNOVA's Critical Perspectives Section, ASPA DSJ, the Public Administration Theory Network, Pi Alpha Alpha, ASPA's LGBT Advocacy Alliance, the Journal of Social Equity and Public Administration (JSEPA), the Journal of Public Affairs Education (JPAE), ASPA's South Florida Chapter, the Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership, ARNOVA’s Teaching Section, ASPA SPAE, and the Conference of Minority Public Administrators (COMPA), is planned for May 15th. You can register here. Our hope is that many of you will join and engage with options generated during this session framed around the (Hirschman-inspired) strategies of Exit, Voice, Loyalty, and Solidarity.
Second, ARNOVA staff recently met with some scholars on the ground in Orlando, who suggested connecting with State Representative Anna Eskamani, a representative of Florida’s 47th District (which includes Orlando). Rep. Eskamani is the first Iranian American in the Florida legislature; she is currently working on her PhD in Public Affairs at the University of Central Florida, and is a vocal advocate who we hope will be a supportive resource for our attendees. We’ll share more of our conversations with her as they happen this summer.
Third, the conference co-chairs, David and Helen are pursuing opportunities through the plenary and other conference activities to engage in dialogue regarding our concerns with the situation in Florida, and the role nonprofit organizations, philanthropy and researchers can play in addressing them. Further, we welcome ideas from members about what we can do to make the conference as welcoming and safe as possible, given the circumstances.
In the coming weeks you’ll hear from more from our immediate Past President, Pier Rogers; our Conference Co-Chairs, David Campbell and Helen Liu, and the full Board of Directors.
Please know that I don’t take these issues lightly, and all of us at ARNOVA hear your concerns. I know that people bring their talents to their work and to our association in many ways, but they also bring their personal lives to all that they do; we don’t work in isolation from who we are as individuals. I, along with the ARNOVA team and the board, are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure the safety, dignity, and respect of all our members. I’ll continue to keep you informed over the coming months as this challenging situation unfolds. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to our Executive Director, Lynnette Cook, with any questions or concerns.
ARNOVA Board President