8 April 2020
By: Julie Freeman, Interim Executive Director and CEO
A few weeks ago, when I opened the FedEx package with my new AGU laptop, I also found the book, Managing Transitions, by William Bridges. I was excited to receive it because managing AGU’s transition from Chris McEntee’s leadership to the new CEO is one of my main responsibilities as Interim CEO.
Transitions from one leader to another are never easy. Staff often worry that their jobs may change. Leaders worry that staff morale will suffer. Members worry that the program quality will decline. All those worries are normal for a transition. But the transition we are experiencing now has an added layer—a global pandemic.
Like all AGU staff and leaders, I am working from home. And despite all the challenges of working with people I have never met, I am not in despair. Before taking the job, I knew that AGU is a leading scientific society. After 8 days on the job, I understand why. The Board members, senior staff and committee members I have met are smart, strategic and committed to AGU’s mission. Plus, they are nice.
As Interim CEO, my job is to work with current staff as they continue to manage valued AGU programs. We know that COVID-19 will force us to consider new ways of delivering value to the Earth and Science community, and we have already begun thinking about options. Once the Board has approved its new strategic plan, I will collaborate with leaders and staff to begin working on the implementation plan. And I will help to prepare AGU for the arrival of the new CEO in a few months.
Transitions are worrisome, but they also bring opportunities. Serving as AGU’s Interim CEO is an opportunity for me. During my time in this position, I hope I can also work with volunteer leaders and senior staff to explore the opportunities for AGU and the community it serves.