AAMV President’s Annual Report 2022-2023
3 years ago, in May of 2020 I stepped into the role of AAMV president. The world was still in lockdown. There was no vaccine. Museums were closed. Volunteer Managers were valiantly trying to engage their volunteers through Zoom trivia nights and hoping their job wouldn’t be eliminated. Many jobs were, including mine. So needless to say the past 3 years didn’t go exactly as planned. Museums are different than they were 3 years ago. AAMV is a different organization than it was 3 years ago. We have been through collective grief, trauma, uncertainty and instability. And that is no small thing to brush away.
The pandemic forced AAMV to pivot to finding ways to build community through more online programming, networking, webinars and a new series called Tough Topics. We talked about volunteer deaths – a topic that preceded the pandemic but that no one had ever talked about. We dedicated ourselves to incorporating a DEAI lens to every part of our organization, and created a DEAI toolkit for museum volunteer programs. We began surveying to collect data about what was happening with museum volunteer programs – data no one else was collecting nationally. We muddled through (and it truly felt like muddling sometimes) and came out to this post pandemic world a little battle weary and with new focus for what museums should be, what volunteerism can become, and what our role is in making those changes.
Today, when I talk to volunteer managers, they tell me that they are rebuilding, but differently. That the Zoom trivia nights built volunteer community in a way that was unexpected. That as common as DEAI presentations and trainings are on the professional conference circuit, that they still get resistance to any DEAI changes at their museums (sometimes from volunteers, but also sometimes from boards and museum directors). They tell me that they feel pulled between some volunteers who want a different experience, a different volunteer time commitment, different roles, and some volunteers want everything to return to pre-pandemic ways. AAMV is here for it. We will continue to be here for it. We pride ourselves on being a nimble organization that can respond to new topics, issues and trends within volunteerism, while also providing those baseline resources for volunteer infrastructure that do not change with the seasons.
As I complete my term as president, and hand off the gavel (literally) to our new president Chris Morehead, I breathe a sigh of relief that we made it. That we are able to be a different organization now. That the wonderful people who make up the AAMV board were ready to jump into action and to make all these changes happen. And I put a fervent hope into the universe that there is less grief, trauma, instability and uncertainty in the next 5 (10? 20?) years.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve as AAMV’s president, and I can’t wait to see what we do next.
AAMV President 2020-2023