President’s Spotlight—AAFS Membership Survey Results and Proposed Courses of Action

Sources: Jeri D. Ropero-Miller, PhD, AAFS President, and Laura C. Fulginiti, PhD, AAFS Vice President and Membership Outreach Ad Hoc Committee Chair

More than 1,500 individual (23%) members participated in the recent survey. The Membership Outreach Ad Hoc Committee thanks those of you who took time out to provide thoughtful responses and comments. The extensive feedback will help shape our committee activities over the coming months and years. The survey asked questions regarding basic demographic information, the Academy’s social media presence, participation in Academy-sponsored events, the structure of the annual meeting, the benefits and proposed benefits of membership, promotion within the section, and a proposed new category of membership.

The results are in many ways surprising and demonstrate a shift from more traditional views. Most individuals value their Academy membership and understand and use their current benefits. Not surprisingly, access to the Journal of Forensic Sciences received the most votes.

The Membership Outreach Committee has met several times to address the expressed suggestions. Subcommittees were formed to develop achievable action items in response. This spotlight features a few of the items that are being proposed or are already being implemented.

One aspect we are launching is a new campaign slogan: “Bringing Justice through Science.” This campaign will see a revamp of AAFS social media strategies and content, as well as added benefits and features through our website to keep members up-to-date and engaged in the multi-faceted world of forensic science. We will be focusing on our branding in an effort to energize our current members, and we will explore connections with universities and high schools to recruit future members. Our committee will be focusing primarily on Facebook®, Twitter®, and LinkedIn® (Instagram® to be added soon) to enhance our social media presence. Please join us in using the hashtag #AAFS to archive your social media posts and content.

The meeting structure is being revisited, and we are considering changes that will aid in making the meeting more accessible and increasing scientific content. We are developing ways to provide content throughout the year, rather than only during the annual meeting. The manner in which the business of the Academy is conducted is being reviewed to determine whether changes are appropriate.

Membership promotion and support are key foci for this committee. We are actively seeking ways to simplify processes, to make members feel more engaged and to provide support. Membership requirements specific to each section are being reviewed, meet and greet opportunities developed, and volunteer advocate pools for letters of reference are some of the suggestions we will be exploring.

Special events, such as Academy-wide receptions, the Tuesday Evening Session, and Academy Cup, received lots of comments and suggestions and the subcommittee assigned to them will be considering a number of avenues to maximize their value to the membership. The subcommittee is also developing new forums, such as case report presentations and more casual get-togethers.

Due to overwhelming support for a new category of membership designated “Correspondents,” the Membership Outreach Ad Hoc Committee will begin to develop the criteria and evaluation process for this group. We anticipate that there will be significant interest from our partners in forensic science.