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AIC’s 50th Annual Meeting: Reflecting on the Past, Imagining the Future

By Cory Rogge, AIC Vice President and Annual Meeting Program Chair

From May 13 to May 19, 2022, AIC celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, California. After a two-year hiatus caused by a global pandemic, it was a pleasure to see friends and colleagues in person again, even if from behind masks.

During the annual meeting I began musing about the Roman numeral for fifty, “L," which can stand for many things.

  • For loss: Two years, over one million dead in the USA alone, with many having suffered untold personal losses including the deaths of loved ones and jobs; our countries, our organization, and most of us will never be the same.
  • For love: While watching friends and colleagues reconnect with such joy and delight after years of separation it was clear that our community is full of love, both for each other and what we do.
  • For learning: It is the ultimate purpose of the annual meeting, and the high quality of the presentations made it a pleasure.
  • For land acknowledgements and locations thereof: During our virtual meetings of 2020 and 2021, speakers sitting in their homes and offices offered land acknowledgements emphasizing how all lands of North America were stewarded and cared for by Native tribes before the influx of European colonizers. I was pleased at this meeting that many speakers acknowledged both the Gabrielino-Tongva people as traditional caretakers of what is now the Los Angeles Basin, as well as the peoples upon whose land their work had been done.
  • For legacy: What type of organization do we want to leave for our future members? Many of the talks focused on how to improve our field, to make it more diverse, equitable, and sustainable; so, it is clear that we are striving to create a better future.
  • For liberate, live, listen, laugh, and sadly, at the end of the conference, leaving LA.

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From the President

As I write this letter in June, I am still on a bit of a high* from May, which is when AIC welcomed 1,000+ attendees to our first ever hybrid annual conference. For those of us attending in person, it was such a pleasure to see friends and colleagues after the pandemic necessitated online-only meetings in 2020 and 2021. My AIC Board colleague Elmer Eusman, Treasurer, said it well—“Everyone looks amazing!”

Festively, the conference also began with cake—actually, several large cakes. Celebrating AIC’s 50th anniversary, these were served at the back of the conference’s first large plenary event, the Awards Ceremony held on Saturday, May 14th. The Awards Ceremony was one of the highlights of the conference for me, and not because of the cakes (although they were delicious!). This year’s awards celebrated and honored people at all career stages—from inspirational early-career leaders to senior mentors who have shaped generations of cultural heritage practitioners, and many others in between. A common theme called out in nomination letters for all the 2022 awardees was their generosity of spirit. Not only have these individuals done award-winning work, but they have also generously shared their time, knowledge, and skills, making a lasting difference in the lives of their students, colleagues, and communities. It was such a pleasure to honor them at the 50th anniversary meeting.

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