Meeting Notes from July 22, 2021
The Executive Committee (EC) Handover session (link to video recording) summarized the accomplishments of the outgoing EC and introduced the incoming EC to the SIGCHI community. This was aimed at ensuring that the incoming EC and our community members could attend and learn about the range and richness of past EC accomplishments, and that members got to know the new EC and its plans in the coming months.
As incoming President, I (Neha Kumar) got us started, welcoming the audience and giving a brief description of the format of the event. Handover meetings in the past had been in-person meetings, 2–3 day-long affairs, with room to get to know each other and discuss the past, present, and future of SIGCHI. Our virtual-world handover began almost as soon as election results were announced, however, and will continue until our open calls are completed. This session gave us a chance to communicate to each other and to our community, what the EC has been laboring towards over the past 3 years (so we can build on its strengths), and what our values and vision are as we move forward. “Enabling open, transparent functioning” is one of these values (read below), and we hope to stay engaged with our community and hold ourselves accountable for the promises we make to it. This meeting was a step in that direction.
Part 1 of the session involved the outgoing EC members summarizing their time on the EC. We are thankful to Casey Fiesler, outgoing Adjunct Chair for Community Engagement, for moderating. She invited Helena Mentis (Past President) to summarize the outgoing EC’s achievements over the past three years. Helena took the next ~20 minutes to summarize the changes that the EC had gone through in her tenure as president, concluding with lessons learned and potential challenges for the new, incoming EC to consider.
Spending a significant portion of her presentation going over the SIGCHI strategic initiatives that were crafted at the start of the former EC’s term, Helena discussed accomplishments that were in line with these, also listed by other members below. She discussed changes in membership: SIGCHI is now much more international, not just North American focused, she pointed out, but we aren’t reaching all of our community when we send an email out to our SIGCHI-Members mailing list. Next she discussed the scalability of our organization and conferences, where our Operations team and VP Conferences had a sizable impact, e.g., through the Council of Steering Committee Chairs where our conferences’ leaders could come together and share their knowledge from organizing conferences. Regarding knowledge distribution (as well as local/global prioritization), she gave a shout-out to the videos team, especially for their contributions through the pandemic, the regional committees, and other initiatives. On promoting inclusivity, she foregrounded the EC’s work on accessibility, chapters, and Equity Talks.
Helena highlighted that the original EC in July 2018 had only one representative from outside North America and Europe, noting that “everybody agreed right away that one of the first things we had to do was think about what does diversity look like in the EC, and to make that a priority to move people around, that people should not be sitting in the EC.” The outgoing EC, she pointed out, looks very different, with representation from Latin America and East Asia, gender diversity, and a first “dual female leadership team […] when Cliff [Lampe] moved on to chair CHI 2022.” She also talked about the committees in addition to the EC that “create the pipeline for people to move into the roles for the future.” She then pointed to tasks that did not get done or are in progress, some of which (mentioned below) she will be prioritizing in coming months, such as volunteering documents, engagement with the ACM violations database, formalizing our committees, and more. (As for missing meeting notes, we will prioritize this going forward.)
Helena concluded with her “musings” on conferences — that the EC must continue to support general chairs in taking a financial hit for registration price differentials so as to grow our community, e.g. with CHI 2021. She stressed the importance of prioritizing diversity in steering committees and conference leadership. She also argued that policies needed to be translated for conference chairs so they could understand them better. On finances, she insisted that we should plan up to five years ahead, not just 1–1.5 years, to be prepared to deal with big changes. On sustainability, she suggested that conferences could consult with Meet Green (or other such organizations) to prioritize sustainable choices. On awards, she stressed the need to have greater diversity, equity, and inclusion with both awards committees and awardees, and ensure that ACM-level award committees have SIGCHI representation. Additional adjunct chair roles Helena listed: an AC each for data, volunteering, and mentoring. Finally, she summarized the need to rethink the EC structure and take pointers from other SIGs for greater flexibility and rotation.
Each of the outgoing EC members then presented a slide to sum up their roles, accomplishments, and challenges, concluding with a word of advice. We summarize these below:
Julie Williamson served first as Vice-President (VP) Publications and then as Executive VP when Cliff Lampe stepped away to chair CHI 2021. Julie talked about changes in proceedings production and updates in publications policies. She summarized that all SIGCHI proceedings were now produced with HTML versions of record, moving away from the PDF format to support more dynamic formats, more accessible formats, and decoupling presentation and content in the way we archive our publications. She also noted that a lot of work had been done to support diverse working practices in TAPS, and that she was proud of the work done to “advocate for non-LaTeX authors and more usable processes for the author-facing experience.” Her word of advice: “Trust your fellow volunteers.”
Andrew Kun had served as Interim VP Conferences from January 2020 to June 2021, starting his term when Aaron Quigley stepped away from the EC in preparation for chairing CHI 2021. Andrew began with a word of acknowledgement for Aaron, and discussed that his main responsibility on the EC had been centered around supporting conferences during and after the pandemic. He said that he was excited about what was going to happen with our conferences’ online efforts, building on what we’ve learned over the past 1.5 years. His word of advice: “Talk to volunteers directly.”
Eunice Sari gave a comprehensive summary of SIGCHI chapters and how these had grown in her term as VP Chapters, particularly across the Global South. She noted that we now have 68 chapters, 30% in the Global South. Eunice described that she held regular office hours, working closely with chapters and communities across the world, and that her main contribution was not only the addition of chapters, but also of increasing their visibility at the local and global levels. Her advice: “Never underestimate the superpower of local chapters as they can be the engine to expand the ACM SIGCHI community at local and global levels. Chapters’ needs is beyond event-based activities. Growth in network, research collaboration portfolios, local community outreach, and international acknowledgement are amongst the key aspects to be prioritised.”
Regina Bernhaupt began by acknowledging that she and Pejman Mirza-Babaei had shared the role of VP Membership and Communications because she as “emergency handler” had been called away to chair CHI 2020. She thanked her communications committee members, then presented her thoughts on “where we go next.” Emphasizing that there are many communications channels in the world and we may not be able to target each one, she said that it was important to be mindful of who we included and excluded with each communication channel that we added. Her word of advice: “I truly believe that bigger is better, but better is better. It’s not about the more general, but it is about the better communication that I think is important to do.”
Anirudha Joshi, as outgoing VP Finances, discussed the challenges that our conferences were facing with their budgets when he started his term on the EC. One of the first things he did was to move SIGCHI to more trackable budgets so that we could all plan our finances better, to know where to invest more and where we can cut down. He also commended SIGCHI for surviving 1.5 years of COVID-19 with relatively small financial dents so far. He expressed his gratitude for meeting a wide variety of people from all over the world, both in person and virtually. He stressed that there were financial challenges ahead for SIGCHI, such as open access, and returning from virtual to hybrid or in-person events. He also brought up the fact that SIGCHI currently only reaches 17% of our world’s population by sponsoring conferences that mainly run in developed countries/the Global North. He estimated that out of 300 conferences, only 2 had been organized in countries that were in the South. He saw this as a big opportunity for us to grow, and closed by saying that “it is the H in SIGCHI that sets us apart” — the human, and that we needed to take our main activities, our conferences, into developing countries.
Shaowen Bardzell had served over the last two years as VP at Large, establishing SIGCHI CARES, an advocacy group for those experiencing discrimination and/or harassment at our professional events. She also coordinated with our Inclusion Teams, who contributed significantly to the development of the EC’s Diversity & Inclusion focus. She stressed the importance of developing concrete support mechanisms for victims of harassment and discrimination, greater outreach, and learning from the community. She also shared that, for her, equity, diversity, and inclusion are “fundamentally a question of respect for human dignity and deserves highest standards of our accountability.” Her words of advice: “We need to improve our collective understanding of what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and how to develop and implement best practices in a complex, evolving workflow, undertaken mostly by our volunteers. We are in this together. So let’s build partnership among different organizations, groups, and stakeholders together.”
I (Neha Kumar) summarized the work I had done in the role of VP at Large since July 2019. In our SIGCHI Development Fund committee, with support from our advisory group, we revised and managed the SIGCHI Development Fund (Luigi De Russis) and the Gary Marsden Travel Awards (Naveena Karusala). We also started the effort for the SIGCHI Latin America Committee (Adriana Vivacqua, who later became our AC for Equity). We put together the Community Events and Holiday calendars (Vikram Kamath) to better coordinate information across our global community. We launched the Voices of SIGCHI Medium publication, an effort to bring together voices from different parts of the world. And then there were the Ask-Me-Anything sessions and Equity Talks that I co-organized. I also talked about opportunities to explore with each of the above programs: the SIGCHI Development Fund could be used more strategically; it is undersubscribed at present. Travel awards and calendars could be better used by/integrated with events and conferences. Regional committees can do more to stitch together the chapters and the global SIGCHI community, and Voices of SIGCHI could bring greater visibility to these local/global communities. The AMAs and Equity Talks emphasized that there’s a lot more we can do when we have the community engaged. A word of advice (which I will follow in my role as incoming President) was to “experiment with different types of volunteering roles”, e.g., our advisory group was really instrumental in shaping our activities, bringing the breadth and richness of their years of experience.
Adriana Vivacqua and Vinoba Vinayagamoorthy jointly presented their work as outgoing Adjunct Chairs (ACs) for equity. Adriana presented the formation of the SIGCHI Latin America Committee, set up for “developing the region and building ties and increasing interaction between Latin American groups and local groups and SIGCHI, the community at large.” Vino talked about her efforts towards learning how our 24 conferences’ steering committees operate, as well as their diverse needs and priorities. She asserted that “equity should really be in everything that we do” and that “we should be thinking about new forms of engagement and always building communities.” They closed with saying: “the best way to do that for the future is really to listen to what people have to say, update the types of communication channels we have, less of a lecture and more of a two-way communication. There’s a lot to be learned. We don’t know much, and we really should be open to learning as much as we can on those fronts.”
Soraia Prietch represented herself and Stacy Branham (who was absent), listing their achievements as ACs for Accessibility. They started their term by putting forth their vision in four parts as listed in this blog post. Soraia also listed other experiences on the EC, after they started in September 2020, such as participating in an Ask-Me-Anything session, co-organizing the second Equity Talk on Making SIGCHI Accessible, and making the Town Hall video (which Soraia particularly enjoyed because she was able to do this in Portuguese, adding English subtitles). She acknowledged that everyone on the EC had been extremely mindful of accessibility needs, such as those working on operations and publications. This was also her word of advice, that “accessibility is in everything we do because it’s like a transversal theme around all VPs and everything.” Stacy will be continuing as AC for Accessibility while Soraia chose to conclude her term in June 2021.
Gloria Mark (outgoing AC for Awards) began by expressing appreciation for all the awards subcommittee chairs, current and previous, as well as those who had served on these committees. In her term, SIGCHI gave out 49 awards to people in 13 countries and 5 continents. She shared that being awards chair was more than just managing the process, it was “figuring out who might be [long overdue] for awards,” and looking at various conference communities to identify leaders not being recognized. She mentioned that, in moving forward, it was important for us to strive for better gender and international balance, and to cast “a wider net for nominations.”
David Karger (outgoing VP Operations) began by mentioning that he had replaced David A. Shamma as VP Operations only recently, earlier this year (when he stepped away to be a Technical Program Chair for CHI 2021). He described that Ops was responsible for managing the operation of the various pieces of infrastructure that help SIGCHI do what it does. This includes managing mailing lists and blogging accounts, and survey accounts, etc., in addition to developing and managing conference infrastructure (such as the conference program app), and the SIGCHI videos infrastructure. David K. is now working on making the data that is managed by Ops a resource that can be made available, under appropriate policies, to researchers across the SIGCHI community.
Monica Pereira presented on behalf of Mark Perry (outgoing AC for Volunteer Development), describing their team’s effort to understand volunteering-related challenges and opportunities within the SIGCHI community. Based on their surveys and interviews, the team put together a report, summarized in this blog post. Monica listed some of the challenges volunteers mentioned that the post discusses, e.g., the lack of recognition/feedback, as well as ideas for a volunteer website where volunteers could look up roles and apply for them.
Tess Tanenbaum (outgoing VP Publications) talked about her advocacy and policy work with the ACM on inclusive policies in publishing, specifically around author name changes. Tess had led the effort for the first trans-inclusive name-change policy to be adopted by any major publisher. She also talked about her participation in the planning of the Equity Talks an “extraordinarily enjoyable and gratifying experience” and mentioned how her activity in SIGCHI CARES had led her to better understand some of the challenges we face as a community. Her words of advice were that “understanding how power operates in our institutions is really important” as also is “thinking about the role that our community plays within a more global sort of space of knowledge production.”
Casey Fiesler (outgoing AC for Community Engagement) expressed her confidence that the new EC would be engaging frequently in a lot of community-facing initiatives, akin to the Ask-Me-Anything sessions and Equity Talks, and encouraged the community to engage back, via Discord “and whatever comes next.” Casey is the new Chair of the SIGCHI Research Ethics Committee and has also offered her support to the EC on policy issues.
Mikael Wiberg (Editor-in-Chief of Interactions) talked about the Interactions magazine’s focus on equity and inclusion, and wanting to be a platform for more diverse voices to be heard. The editors (Mikael, along with Daniela Rosner and Alex Taylor) have tried different, new formats in print as well as online, making room for multiple languages, such as Portuguese and English. They’ve explored several themes, such as feminisms, translations, global mobilities, tech labor, and more. Mikael clarified that while Interactions was not a peer-reviewed journal, it was “something in between, a magazine that should be available to people outside the academic community.” The editors are committed to being responsive to the needs of our community, organizing surveys for their readers, and soliciting regular feedback.
Kristi Audette has been working as the SIGCHI Project Manager since 2019, and has been helpful towards keeping us functioning, supporting the various EC members in different ways. Her word of advice was that “the only thing constant is change,” and she expressed appreciation for everyone’s ability to not only stay with their core values and focuses, but also to continue to change and address newly emergent community needs.
Sade Rodriguez, ACM Coordinator, informed everyone that she was here to support all activities pertaining to our SIG. Sade expressed her willingness and availability to provide guidance and recommendations to EC members on the various goals they aim to accomplish.
We regret that Loren Terveen (outgoing Past President), Mark Perry (outgoing AC for Volunteer Development), Regan Mandryk (continuing AC for CHI), and Stacy Branham (continuing AC for Accessibility) were unable to join us.
Having looked at the past three years, and understood, in the voices of our outgoing EC members, what SIGCHI’s path has looked like thus far, Part 2 involved turning to the future, the road ahead. I (Neha Kumar, incoming President) began by reminding us that the SIGCHI community is much larger than its paying members — it is those who give their time to SIGCHI and/or partake of services that we as SIGCHI provide. This means researchers, educators, designers, practitioners, students, early careers, retired members, industry, academia, non-profits, those from the global south/north… and many others who we are missing even as we try to be inclusive. Our mission thus is to ensure that members of this vast SIGCHI community can participate, are informed of avenues to participate, are supported in participating, and derive value from it.
Shaowen Bardzell (incoming Executive VP) acknowledged that we live in changing times, and “even as we try to build on the infrastructures that exist, we need to be responsive to the changes that are shaping us.” That will be one significant responsibility on our shoulders as we take on this charge. We will also be making sure to work in tandem with each other, across EC roles and remits, to add depth and breadth, and strengthen earlier contributions. Shaowen then introduced Adriana Vivacqua and Naomi Yamashita, our VPs at Large who will be working on strengthening the presence of SIGCHI as a global institution.
Adriana Vivacqua, as incoming VP at Large, said that her focus was going to be on nurturing local structures and practices, helping local communities develop, building connections, strengthening connections between local and regional communities and the SIGCHI community at large, and bringing these closer, showcasing global research. She will work with the Development Fund committee and the HCI Education task force, trying to support HCI education worldwide. She is keen to expand on virtual and hybrid offerings, and will work closely with the incoming VP for Conferences, VP for Chapters, and AC for Sustainability.
Naomi Yamashita, as our second incoming VP at Large, spoke next. Her goal will be to promote the global presence of SIGCHI, together with Adriana, but focusing on institutional barriers to participation. Though new to the EC, she is not new to SIGCHI, and mentioned barriers she had faced as an industrial researcher living in Japan. She is keen on reimagining relationships between institutions, building mutually beneficial partnerships, and rethinking our global infrastructures. One idea she would like to implement is to make language services available to non-native English members. Balancing Adriana’s focus on supporting local structures, practices, and knowledge production, Naomi will focus more on addressing institutional barriers. They will together address barriers to participation in both a bottom-up and top-down way to meet in the middle.
Andrew Kun, as incoming VP for Finances, spoke next. He thanked outgoing VP Finances Anirudha, and said that he would continue to work on openness and transparency of our budget so that the SIGCHI community knows where to look to understand how money is spent, and to also shape this expenditure. Andrew looks forward to working with the new EC to make sure that we can accomplish the things that we are aiming to accomplish, while paying close attention to our financial health in these changing times.
Tamara Clegg, our incoming VP for Membership and Communication, mentioned that she goes by Tammy, and that like Naomi, was very new to this position. Her priorities will be to strengthen our communication channels so that we can communicate better, within the committee and outwards, to the larger SIGCHI community, especially those who we may not be in communication with at this point. For this she will work closely with others on the EC. She shared that she loves doing participatory design and coming up with creative new ideas, and will focus on how we can “innovate around community engagement to bring people in and really get them engaged.”
Stacy Branham, our continuing AC for Accessibility, was unable to join us but has already shared her goals for the future in a recent blog post, coauthored with Soraia Prietch. Along with her new Accessibility Committee, she will focus on the following goals: increasing accessibility responsiveness and transparency for members, connecting volunteers to accessibility resources, tracking global accessibility barriers and opportunities for the EC, and advocating for lasting accessibility change within SIGCHI and the ACM.
Helena Mentis, our Past President, was unable to join us for this portion of the handover. Shaowen stepped in to mention that Helena will be working on a new ACM committee to look at violations, towards materializing and concretizing the implementation of the violations database. She is also working on various volunteering efforts that she began in her term as President, such as a Volunteer’s Handbook. Helena will also be identifying guidelines for data access and collection, another ongoing project that she oversaw as President.
Shaowen Bardzell, incoming Executive VP, said that she would work closely with the rest of the EC, ACM, and the broader community to expand the reach of SIGCHI research and practice. Her focus will be on bolstering leadership and mentorship pipelines, and widening opportunities to participate in them. She would also like to focus on translating and disseminating SIGCHI’s scientific contributions, and cultivating better trans-disciplinary connections. In her final words, “we will also create the infrastructure to help ensure that all voices are heard and taken seriously, with an emphasis on those that have been historically marginalized so as to systematize processes that will establish equity and inclusivity as the norm.”
Going next, I described that my role as President would focus on enabling all others on the EC to define and achieve their goals for SIGCHI. A visioning exercise for our entire EC must wait until we have an entire EC, but until then I’d like to share the commitments that those of us on the current EC have in common. To put this together, I looked through our 200-word election statements, elicited more dialogue from our new members, and this is where I landed:
- Facilitating safe, accessible, inclusive, sustainable, equitable options for participating across venues.
- Bridging the local and global. Connecting research, education, design, and practice.
- Enabling open, transparent functioning. Across conferences, across SIGCHI, across ACM.
- Making visible the work of volunteers. Generating opportunities for leadership, mentorship, and networking.
- Supporting diverse, interdisciplinary knowledge production.
In doing this, these are seven commitments we aim to uphold:
- First, of pluralism. Being accepting of difference, and different types of difference. In cultures, languages, research methodologies, disciplinary homes, etc.
- Second, equity. Throughout. Towards removing barriers to participation and contribution across these differences.
- Third, setting up the infrastructures we need. These include programs like the GMTA, but also committees like our most recently added accessibility committee.
- Fourth, educating the EC and the community through regular channels of engagement and communication, so that we’re on the same page.
- Fifth, responsibility, also the ability to respond to changes around us, with leadership.
- Six, partnership. Building bridges constantly. This work we’ve already begun in good measure.
- Seven, community. We are committed to engaging our community throughout, in all our undertakings, inviting continual feedback and support from all of us here.
So where does that lead us? First, we will set up and standardize open calls processes for team formation across all roles. Even as we do this, we acknowledge that open calls are not always fully open, because the knowledge of what these roles might entail may not be equally accessible to everybody. To change this for the future, we will keenly pursue openness and transparency throughout our term.
Our next priority, also focused on addressing barriers to participation, has to do with offering a range of volunteering opportunities so that we are continually bringing in new energy, new perspectives, new vision into community leadership.
And then uncovering new ways of engaging our community. Many of you may have been at our Equity Talks, which began in March this year, and have been well attended. And that’s been one way to engage community. We also started the SIGCHI Discord server where we hope to engage community members in discussion on critical topics like policies around the Violations Database. And we’ll keep working to come up with more ways of engaging.
In the final part of this presentation, I went over the open calls that were out and upcoming — for new and continuing EC roles. This blog post presents an up-to-date summary of where we stand with this exercise. Our plan is to have these EC roles filled out by the end of September, to have a full and functional EC three months into our term. We hope that you’ll assist and support us in achieving these milestones — by applying/nominating for or disseminating our calls. Once our team is ready, and we’ve completed our visioning exercise with everybody on board, we look forward to reporting back!
Although our original intent had been to set aside time for a Q&A session to be moderated by Casey, we were woefully out of time. Please bring any questions to our future open meetings, or feel free to use the SIGCHI Discord server anytime.