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President's Letter - August, 2020

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President's Letter - August, 2020

AAVSO President's Letter

August 2020


Summer 2020 has been a good time for our organization! In June, our first-ever online-only joint meeting with SAS was a success. The multi-day format, combined with sessions limited to 2.5 hours,  worked well for attendees. We averaged more than 150 people, and over 90 percent remained to the end.

In July, our observing sections webinar series began.  Again, the response was outstanding. Between two and three hundred individuals attended each session!  The presentations were excellent, and the Q&A discussions valuable and lively! Again, over 90% of the attendees remained online for full sessions!  Plus, there was a definite international flavor to the meeting with attendees from forty-three different countries!

The strategic plan continues to make significant progress. We completed our work with CAP (the Harvard Alumni consulting group.)  They provided excellent ideas and analysis of the AAVSO and made numerous recommendations.

Many ideas from the strategic planning effort are already bearing fruit.  We are

  • strengthening the observing sections by creating section membership, conducting section leader meetings to share ideas, and improving section website content to identify more opportunities for personal involvement.
  • conducting the observing section summer webinar series. The series provides valuable education and training.  The webinars also grow our connections to individuals who are not AAVSO members but who are interested in astronomy. Roughly 50% of attendees are not current members. This outreach increases AAVSO's impact and will hopefully expand our membership.
  • increasing interaction and follow-up with professional astronomers on campaigns. Professionals are getting more engaged and are actively participating in observing sections.
  • creating the new Instrumentation and Equipment Section. The new forum is offering a place for people to ask specific technology questions, and upcoming section webinars will provide valuable information.
  • planning workshops for the Fall meeting in spectroscopy and data mining.

At the Fall Meeting, we'll present further conclusions from our strategic planning efforts.  You will hear our plans for increasing member support and reaching out to the broader astronomy community to grow our membership. Our strategic plan goals remain the same -

  • High Membership Satisfaction
  • Long-term Financial Stability
  • Increased Organization Impact


Proposed Bylaw Changes

The Board is proposing two bylaw changes this year –

  • The first modifies the process of changing the bylaws.  This change results from comments received during last year's bylaw update.  The recommended new process is this -  we will send a draft of proposed bylaw changes to members two months before the annual meeting. This schedule will allow a full month for comment and discussion. Then, one month before the annual meeting, a final version of the bylaws update will be sent to members for their vote. Online voting will be open from that day until the time of the annual meeting. (This year, since there will not be an in-person meeting, voting will close one day before the members' online meeting allowing time to process the vote. ) 
  • The second proposed bylaw change modifies "at-large" Board member terms from two to three years, with an offsetting reduction in term limits from three to two terms. The maximum time a person can be on the Board remains six consecutive years.  Why the change? Because, after discussion with CAP and comparison with other nonprofit organizations, we found three-year terms are more common.  The reason is it provides additional time for members to develop a deeper understanding of the organization, and then use that knowledge guiding the organization as a Board member. 

    This change would reduce the number of individuals elected annually from four to three.  The three-year terms create three Board classes identified by term ending dates. Therefore, the Board will now have nine at-large members instead of the current eight.


A formal draft bylaw update proposal will be posted and sent to members the first week of September in keeping with the proposed new bylaw approval process.


Board Election

Our annual election of new Board members begins shortly.  Candidates will be announced soon.  Please carefully review their candidate statements, and VOTE!

As I close this letter, I hope everyone is healthy and doing well. 

Clear skies!





AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484