Executive Update: Mona Miller, Executive Director
March 2019

What makes a community a vibrant community? Actively creating opportunities for broader participation; pursuing meaningful, sustained inclusion of underrepresented groups; and recognizing leadership and excellence are three important parts. Moreover, professional engagement and recognition play crucial roles to advance careers and build greater diversity and inclusion in STEMM fields, and we see ASHG volunteer leadership service and awards as crucial to that work.

Nominations for ASHG committees and the Board of Directors are open through March 6 and ASHG awards nominations open March 11 through April 9. The Society encourages you to get more involved and to nominate yourself and others for participation and recognition.

Attention to Diversity of Candidates

We especially urge greater attention to diversity in our nominations for both leadership service and awards. The Society appreciates and recognizes the excellence of all past award winners and participation of all committee members, and it also knows ASHG honors and service do not yet reflect the diversity of the community. Many scientific societies are working to make progress on this important front, and ASHG is undertaking concrete steps to move in the right direction. For instance, the Association for Women in Science has extensive resources demonstrating the importance of diversity in awards programs and common challenges, and ASHG will begin implementing suggested strategies to advance diversity in review processes.

Progress starts with a robust and diverse nominee pool, and that’s where we need you. We strongly encourage more—and more diverse—nominations for leadership service and awards, including diversity of ancestry, gender, research area, degree, nationality, and more. And please remember to consider diverse nominations for all awards – including leadership, scientific excellence, advocacy, education, and service.

Think back to the fantastic time the field had in San Diego for ASHG 2018. Whose transformative research deserves greater recognition? Scanning the global research community, whose work is shaping your specialty in major ways and could be singled out for recognition? Whose dedication to your department or specialty could translate into broader field service through the ASHG committees or Board?

Building Broader Opportunities to Serve

We have received tremendously positive feedback from ASHG’s first open call for committee nominations introduced last year -- we welcomed nearly 35 additional new participants in Society activities and look forward to keeping that momentum going. This is a high priority for the ASHG Board, which is dedicated to creating more opportunities for member engagement. With nearly 8,000 members worldwide, we know there are many members eager to serve, gain leadership experience, and contribute their perspective.

For this reason, the Board is intentionally moving to a value where service on a particular committee is broadly expected to be a single-term opportunity, with some flexibility based on project need. Yet we also know that participation in the life of the Society is important and we welcome your sustained engagement. Did you have a great experience on one committee? Consider nominating yourself to stay involved through other activities, whether on a new committee or through a growing array of “micro-engagement” opportunities like the new Advocacy Pledge, DNA Day Essay review, the new Genetics Engagement & Education Network, and more.

In months and years to come, we hope to create even more opportunities for engagement, so while we may not be able to seat every interested member in a given cycle, please know that the Society sees, appreciates, and will tap into your ongoing interest. Thank you for your dedication and service to ASHG and our shared mission to advance human genetics.