October 17, 2022
Today marks my one month anniversary as the Executive Director of the AAVSO, so I thought it prudent to introduce myself, describe what I am doing, and preview where we will be heading.
The most important thing I want to convey is how excited I am to be joining the AAVSO. It is an honor to lead one of the world’s oldest and most successful astronomical organizations.
As you may know, I served as a Professional Liaison in the AAVSO’s Citizen Sky program from 2010 to 2012. During that time, I was completing my Ph.D. at the University of Denver. I wrote my dissertation on Epsilon Aurigae, which underwent its famous two-year long eclipse and utilized AAVSO data as part of my research. As the Liaison, I helped four citizen science teams define and execute their own scientific programs and led the DSLR Photometry Team. Some time later, I served as the editor of the first edition of the DSLR Observing Manual. My work with the AAVSO left me with utmost respect for the organization and the community it represents.
Since Citizen Sky, I acquired skills that will prove useful to the AAVSO. I learned agility by working a startup, finance by running a small business, team building by scaling a project from 7 to 70 people, and program management through my role as Lead Engineer on a $120M program. I’m a strategic thinker who can envision a future and establish a pathway to get there.
The AAVSO and its role within the broader astronomy community changed considerably over the last decade. Because of this, my first month focused on learning about the AAVSO, identifying areas for improvement, and strategizing how we should adapt for the future. Like many organizations, the AAVSO faces its share of challenges. We want to strengthen ties with our sister organizations, improve the quality of our data, build our membership, and find our niche in the automated sky survey era. The challenge I now face is how to accomplish these goals in a way that ensures a sustainable future. This type of change must be approached systematically and will take time to realize. I know I can count on your support.
I want to pay tribute to Dr. Stella Kafka and her seven years of service to the AAVSO. Early in her tenure, the AAVSO faced an unprecedented financial crisis. She made a series of exceptionally difficult decisions that reduced our draw on the endowment and ensured the long-term financial stability of our organization. I would like to thank her personally for her hard work and wish her the best in her new role at the American Meteorological Society.
I look forward to exchanging ideas with many of you during the Annual Meeting in Tucson in early November.
Dr. Brian Kloppenborg
Executive Director, AAVSO
Phone: 617-354-0484 x107