Over the past ten years I've gotten somewhat involved in this community. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be of service in these presidential roles for the IFVP and the IFVP Institute. I thought it might be useful for me to share why I'm here.
It was probably ten or more years ago that I attended a Pegasus Communications Systems Thinking Conference in Boston. Peter Senge was one of the main speakers, and it was pretty amazing to see him just walking around talking with everyone as if he were one of the peers. I think this was my first sense that the systems thinking community was a gracious and welcoming bunch.
I was attending because of my adjunct teaching work at Montclair State University. My PhD from Temple University in Philadelphia US (1997) was in Rhetoric and Communication, and I had been teaching organizational studies and research there since 1992. Being a Myers-Briggs INFP, I love to see the big picture and explore possibilities. So when I saw a graphic recorder at the conference, I was hooked! I asked where I could learn this, and found myself a few years later at the Grove, where I met Rachel Smith, Laurie Durnell and David Sibbet.
From there I began to introduce visual practice in my classes at Montclair and was asked to teach a visual practice class every two years to graduate students. Through one of the other faculty I found myself connecting with Stephanie Brown and a team of graphic recorders at an NCDD conference. There I did my first five live recordings and learned about Neuland markers (Thanks Stephanie for donating one to me!) and the IFVP. From there I took part in the Austin Conference, where I learned that I had been elected to the board. I had applied after reading about the vision to connect with academic institutions and form a 501c3. I took the opportunity to call a number of members to orient myself and they patiently took time to help me understand the history and work being done (thanks Christina Merkely, Kelvy Bird, Lynn Carruthers, Rachel Smith). Then it was on to the DC conference where I did a workshop about OD and visual practice and gained new connections (thanks Trent Wakenight, Lauren Green, Erin Gordon and Brian Tarallo!). I've attended every conference since then, and found myself in the Chief Technical Officer role (thanks Dean Meyers for your mentoring!).
I think that there are a couple of reasons I've continued to be involved. One is the opportunity to be around an amazingly generous and creative community, who share a core value with me of finding ways to make the world a better place. Over the past 40 years my work as a pastor in two congregations has been centered around this value of mercy and the relieving of suffering. I've served and continue to serve on many nonprofit boards dealing with homelessness, senior services, food insecurity, disaster relief and refugee resettlement. To be involved with IFVP and the Institute allows me to continue that focus in another setting, using the nonprofit board experience I've accumulated and introducing visual practice in those settings (thanks Bruce Van Patter!).
I'm glad that I've been able to contribute to reaching those two vision goals I first saw years ago, helping to make the academic connection (through the Institute and the Montclair conference in 2019) and establishing the 501c3 (the Institute, which allows us to offer tax benefits for sponsors and to apply for grants (and keeps me in touch with Susan Kelly, David Sibbet and Renatta Algalarrondo!)). I am looking forward to moving those along in the next years, particularly as we have more amazing PhD work being done by members (hello Heidi Hautopp and Chelsea Lei!). I'm also optimistic that our recent IFVP strategic planning work has set us on a road to evolve our vision and mission to offer value in the current state of our field's development. Having a field-level professional association is a real value as our innovation continues to diffuse (thanks Chelsea Lei for the language!).
More to come, but I thought this might be useful for those I have not yet met. You all are amazing!