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BEA President’s Corner
by Tony DeMars

As I begin my new year of leadership in BEA, I want to do my best to connect with each individual member.  I want to start by talking about my own experiences, in hopes it will help some of you who are relatively new to BEA.

When I started getting involved in BEA over 20 years ago, I felt uncertain and a bit intimidated. I had been teaching for several years but had just finished my Ph.D. I was part of a panel, but not sure about my audience. Early on I got some papers accepted and recognized, and I got a TV news story accepted and recognized in the Festival. I started going to interest division meetings and started developing professional relationships. I was starting to see where my interests connected with others, and I started wanting to get more involved. By the time I stepped up and took on interest division leadership roles and BEA Festival leadership roles and then the convention chair role, I had also begun volunteering with other academic associations. I did all this without a goal of ‘moving up’ in leadership of BEA, but then when the timing fit everything in my professional life, and with all that experience, I decided to run for election to be the District 5 representative on the board of directors.

And so, here’s the point: BEA elects its top leadership from among currently eligible board members, and the way to get here is provide effective service for some years and get to know your peers, then look at your opportunities to run for election to the board of directors. Plus, be ready for a long-term commitment.  From my first year on the board to the final year as past president will have been a total of eight years. My goal from the beginning has to been to improve myself professionally while serving the organization that has meant the most to my academic career, BEA. I have benefited greatly from the fantastic staff we have and the leaders who came before me and who served as my mentors.

So, let me hear from you this year!  I want to help us continue to be a great organization for everyone involved.  In my next President’s Corner, I’ll summarize some of my goals for the next 12 months.