Happy New Year, MAFS members! I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday season.
As the new year begins, many will look back at the last year to see what they accomplished. While 2020 is a year many would like to forget, and was very different for most people, we should all be proud of persevering through a very challenging year. MAFS and its members are no exception.
Last year, all spring committee meetings were held virtually. While we were given no other option, it showed that these meetings can be accomplished virtually, and subsequently this year, they will also be virtual. While this may not always be the case in the future for every committee, Audra Yovanovich, Training and Education Chair, specifically asked to have the T&E committee meet virtually in exchange for more committee members. T&E now has 14 members- at least 1 member from each discipline, with larger sections having multiple members, and 2 local workshop coordinators. This is an important change as T&E is now responsible for planning both Spring and Fall workshops and this should ease the burden on individual members of the committee. The Spring BOD meeting was also held virtually in both the spring and fall last year and will be virtual again this spring. While there are definite benefits to meeting in person, we should be proud of what can be accomplished over zoom meetings.
During 4th quarter 2020, the membership was asked to vote on changes to the MAFS Bylaws via Survey Monkey. Thank you to all that took the time to vote. I’m happy to report that all the changes passed. The Admin Rules & Bylaws Committee will be working to integrate the Bylaws changes into the Admin Rules. The Membership Committee will update the membership application forms to reflect the changes to the sponsor/reference requirements. And, this fall, MAFS will elect the new position of Fall Meeting Manager.
While MAFS has used Survey Monkey for BOD elections, it had never been used for voting on bylaws changes, which is typically done at the business meetings at the fall meeting. I personally feel using Survey Monkey allows more people to express their opinion, but I would like to hear from you- did you like voting for the bylaws using Survey Monkey or would you rather continue to vote at the business meeting? Is there anything that you would like to see differently if Survey Monkey is used in the future?
Also, during 4th quarter, the Board of Directors reviewed and accepted a contract with CVENT for their new product- Virtual Attendee Hub (VAH). This platform integrates with the Event Management software that we currently use for meeting registration and replaces CrowdCompass, which was used during the fall meetings. VAH will allow MAFS to host a virtual meeting if we are unable to host an in-person meeting this year. While T&E was able to coordinate workshops for 2020, it was a much more involved process than any of us saw. This platform will alleviate some of the burden that fell on T&E last year and create a more seamless and complete fall meeting, if necessary.
In 2019, an ad-hoc committee was formed to evaluate a new web platform and create a new website. The committee members are Paul Hermsen, Ken Eilert, Jason Beckert, and Ted Manasian. I’m pleased to announce that the new website will be up and running soon! You should expect to receive an email with login instructions shortly after the new website goes live. The website has an updated look and will also allow for spring workshop registration and payment. Thank you, Paul, Ken, Jason and Ted, for all your hard work on this project.
This year marks the 50th meeting of the Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists! The first meeting was conducted in Cincinnati, OH in the Spring of 1972, followed by a meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota in that fall. Those MAFS members in attendance in 1972 are considered our “Charter Members”. Thank you to all for gathering to share your knowledge in forensic science back in 1972; without you, MAFS would not be the greatest regional forensic organization! Charter Members will be honored at the 50th Annual MAFS Meeting in Chicago, Illinois this fall. Throughout the year, some history and memories of MAFS will be shared by several Charter and Emeritus Members in the newsletter, so be on the look-out!
My first MAFS meeting was the 2007 meeting in Traverse City, Michigan. I will never forget the warm hospitality of all members and the feeling of belonging that I felt. I knew then that I needed to be part of this organization and wanted to serve the membership in some way. After planning and organizing workshops for 2 fall meetings, I decided to run for Member-at-Large. I have been on the Board of Directors since 2011 and have enjoyed every minute of it. If you would like to get more involved, please reach out to me or Sara Schreiber.
I am greatly humbled to be your President this year. Thank you for entrusting me to lead this great organization.