I step enthusiastically into the Academy Executive Director role at a time of guarded optimism and cautious dreaming. As the latest COVID wave fades, and some of the insecurity along with it, we welcome a new season and think about what may be ahead. During the pandemic the Academy has continued to create connections to dynamic thinkers, writers, and artists in our state. We are asking ourselves, what is next?
At the Academy, we have a special role to explore and navigate the issues of our time through the powerful lenses of the sciences, arts, and letters. I am excited to join this esteemed organization at such an opportune time. Over the course of my career, I have led teams in private, public, and nonprofit organizations, including ones like the Academy with a Wisconsin-wide focus. Community engagement and dynamic partnerships are hallmarks of my work. In this time of awakening and re-emerging, I am making plans for traveling and exploring Wisconsin, forging and reviving relationships. This emergence aligns with the ease and delight of spring, and it also reflects my priority on understanding how the Academy can continue to provide relevant experiences and meaningful connections to the people of Wisconsin.
From wintry sojourns on icy lakes to waterways busy with baby ducks and boaters, the beauty of Wisconsin draws many of us outside. We know this natural world is more than our retreat—it is our responsibility. While climate change feels overwhelming to combat, dialogue convened by the Academy has established clear next steps to fight back right here at home. The Academy Climate Team has been working with seasoned professionals, new voices, and diverse audiences across Wisconsin on the upcoming Climate Fast Forward conference. Engaging the people who are and will be most impacted by the effects of climate change in our state, the conference is a one-of-a-kind forum for identifying and putting into practice concrete measures to restrain the havoc of climate change.
Creating opportunities for us to learn from one another is at the heart of the Academy. As we consider what is next, we are exploring the timely and timeless questions of identity: Who am I? and Who are we? The urgency around these issues has increased, and we challenge ourselves to admit and correct bias. This exploration has the power to illuminate truth, to heal, and to drive needed change. Whether through learning about violence of the past or confronting the Academy’s own blind spots, we are called to confront what is difficult, to do better, and to learn from each other. Thank you for joining the Academy on this journey. I’m happy to be here with you.