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From the Chairs: SIGCHI Leadership

Mike Atwood

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SIGCHI operates through a partnership between volunteers and staff and in this column we acknowledge the contributions of a few of them. Volunteers provide the leadership, define the programs, and set the directions for SIGCHI. Staff, either employees at ACM HQ or contractors hired to support our conferences support our programs and provide advice and guidance to the volunteers on how to lead a volunteer-driven professional society. Both the volunteers and professional staff are crucial to SIGCHI's operations and both must work in close partnership in order for these operations to be effective. Recently, two events have caused us to focus both on the volunteer leadership and on the professional staff.

First, on July 1, we will hand over the leadership of SIGCHI from one Executive Committee to another. This is the result of the election that we hold every two years to select the Executive Committee. The second event is selection of a new Program Director to replace Diane Darrow who left in April after several years as SIGCHI's Program Director. Both events cause us to focus on SIGCHI's leadership and on the partnership that must exist between the staff and volunteers.

SIGCHI relies on a strong volunteer leadership and encourages turnover in that leadership by holding elections every two years and limiting to two elected terms the time that one person can hold an office. The elected leadership is supplemented by our adjunct chairs who are responsible for our local SIGs, publicity, standards, and other activities. (We remind you that these adjunct chairs are also frequent and regular contributors to the SIGCHI Bulletin and you should see those articles for a fuller account of their activities).

Conferences

The key management roles in our conferences, the general chairs, technical program chairs, reviewers, local arrangements coordinators, publications, audio-visual, student volunteer, and many, many other positions are also staffed by volunteers. Of course, the CHI (Human Factors in Computing Systems) conference is a focal point of SIGCHI activities. By taking a look at the organizers of other conferences, it is obvious that a representative set of HCI leaders are involved at the heart of the SIGCHI organization. Other conferences foster specific aspects of HCI such as the ACM Conference on Document Processing Systems, CSCW (Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work), DIS (Symposium on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods & Techniques), Hypertext, INTERCHI (Conference on Human Factors in Computing), IWIUI (International Workshop on Intelligent User Interfaces), Multimedia (International ACM Conference on Multimedia), and UIST (ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology). Without this volunteer effort, our conferences would not occur.

Distinguished Service Awards

During the CHI 97 conference, six volunteers were presented with SIGCHI Distinguished Service Awards in recognition of their significant contributions to SIGCHI.

Gene Lynch has served as SIGCHI's Vice Chair for Conferences for the past four years. He developed the Conference Management Committee (CMC), which oversees our conference program and provides a liaison to provide advice and guidance to conference chairs. The CMC has proven to be successful and effective in managing our conferences and we congratulate Gene on forming, staffing, and leading this committee for the past four years.

John "Scooter" Morris was the CMC liaison for CHI 97, was general co-chair for CHI '92 and has been a valued contributor to SIGCHI's conferences for a decade. Scooter is always willing to share his conference experiences with others and is frequently called on to provide advice and guidance to the Executive Committee.

Clare-Marie Karat has been Vice Chair for Finance for the past four years. Her careful stewardship got us through some financially troubling times a few years ago and, over the past few years, she has defined an annual budget process that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of our annual budget.

John Bennett is a long-time advisor and friend of SIGCHI. Whether he is officially on the Advisory Board, as he was in the previous Executive Committee, or just acting as a person working to assure the future of SIGCHI and HCI, John is a valued advisor and friend and he leaves a legacy within the CHI community that we hope many seek to emulate.

Gary Perlman has been our Vice Chair for Publications the past two years. During his tenure, Gary led SIGCHI's initiatives in electronic publishing and greatly improved our Web pages and Web presence. Gary also actively maintains the HCI Bibliography that he initiated earlier and continues to champion.

Allison Druin is responsible for defining, implementing, and leading the CHIkids program. The CHIkids program is one of the most significant innovations in the CHI conference program and a program that the entire SIGCHI community is justly proud of. This program would not have happened without Allison.

There are a few other people we want to thank, as well.

Marian Williams is leaving the Executive Committee after two years as Vice Chair for Operations. We will miss her joyful attitude, her dedication, and her effective support of SIGCHI and the field of HCI. During the past two years, she has championed education initiatives that we have supported through the SIGCHI Development Fund. We will continue to work closely with Marian as she co-chairs CHI 99 with Mark Altom.

We want to give special thanks to Diane Darrow. Diane left ACM on April 15, 1997. During the seven years she was at ACM, she has brought energy, organizational assets, and solidity to SIGCHI. She has contributed to help transform SIGCHI into a strong organization where our leaders can rely on competent staff for advice, support, and the management of administrative tasks. Diane is a real professional and she will be greatly missed. We wish her good luck in her new job.

For a successful and enjoyable CHI 97 conference, we thank Alan Edwards, Steven Pemberton, and their committee. You have all accomplished something for which you can justly be proud.

Thanks, Gene! Thanks, Scooter! Thanks, Clare-Marie! Thanks, John! Thanks, Gary! Thanks, Allison! Thanks, Marian! Thanks, Diane! Thanks, Alan! Thanks, Steven! Thanks, CHI 97 committees!

Program Director

As we write this column, the search for a Program Director has only recently started, so we do not have much to report. We sincerely hope that the search process will be concluded by the time you read this column, but we will use this column to keep you updated.

Society Status

We will also use this column to keep you updated on the issue of ACM Societies and of SIGCHI becoming such a society (See the January 1997 Bulletin for a discussion of this issue). Since we last discussed this in this column, two events are worth highlighting. First, Mike, as SIGCHI Chair, participated in the Society Working Group formed at the request of Doris Lidtke, SIG Board Chair, to develop recommendations on the formation of a new SIG structure to be known as a Society. Our goals in becoming a society remain to allow us to better support our members and our volunteer leadership by providing for more autonomy and freedom of action in turn for more responsibility and more control over our resources. While we have not yet seen the final draft from the SIG Board, we remain optimistic that our goals can be met. Also, since we believe that a Society should have a dedicated staff, we are negotiating with ACM headquarters for a full-time Program Director for SIGCHI. We hope that the next Chairs' Column will bring good news about how we can transition into a Society and how we will all benefit from this move. We are grateful for the support we have received from current and past SIGCHI officers and from many SIGCHI members in these efforts.

In this column, we have thanked many people. We want to conclude by thanking you, the membership, for being SIGCHI. We also invite and welcome your continued participation in SIGCHI.

Mike Atwood,
chi-chair@acm.org

Same topic in earlier issue
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Vol.29 No.3, July 1997
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