In the mid-1980s, ECSW was the host site for the first Humanist Weekend – an event planned and operated by the North American Committee for Humanism with the intent to bring together humanists from around the country to rally support for humanist causes and push back against a rising tide of religious fundamentalism. It was quite an event and featured a keynote address by Gloria Steinem who had some interesting things to say about paternalism in humanist organizations.

It was my first taste of humanism on a national level and was an event that sparked my interest in getting involved with the American Ethical Union, our own national organization. Over the next few years Ruthanne and I attended AEU Assemblies and went to family weekends at Hudson Guild Farm. And once I entered Leadership training I became involved with a number of national committees including Religious Education, Growth and Development, Strategic Planning, Mediation, Leadership and the Board of Directors.

For a number of years I have been interested in working for the AEU and in the spring of 2011 submitted a proposal for executive management to the AEU Board of Directors. The proposal called for an executive director who would focus primarily on developing stronger ties between member Ethical Societies and the AEU and spearhead efforts to strengthen the AEU public presence. That proposal was adopted by the board and in June of this year I was selected as the new Executive Director for
the AEU.

In my new role as Executive Director I will be focusing attention, especially in this first year, upon what it takes for grow. Toward that end I plan to visit each Society over the next twelve months and on these visits to get a deeper understanding of the successes and challenges each Society is encountering.

As you imagine, visiting other Ethical Societies will entail many weekends away in the coming year. I am expecting to visit two Societies each month between September and June and have twelve visits scheduled as of this writing.

My role with the AEU will also mean changes in my availability for ECSW. Our board and I have been working on a plan for meeting the Society’s needs through a combination of volunteer and staff efforts. I am also inviting many of my colleagues to visit ECSW this next year and will be providing the board with information about workshops and classes that may be of interest to our community.

I would especially like to acknowledge Debra Steiglitz and the terrific work she has done as Assistant to the Leader. Debra developed and has maintained what has become a vital link to membership—her weekly “eBlast.” She put together and held together our marvelous chorus, worked behind the scenes to organize a host of special events, and has been my partner in crime for planning festival events—especially last December’s magical Winter Festival.

Fortunately, Debra has been willing to show us how she did things and to train people who will be taking on some of her past responsibilities. Even more fortunately, Debra will to continue as a friend of ECSW and expects to be a pretty regular attendee. Even so, it will take involvement from a good number of us to keep the ship afloat and continue moving forward with our programs and services so this is a very good time indeed to be thinking about what your part will be in helping it all happen!

— Bart Worden