Each year at this time, ASLE has the privilege of welcoming a new Vice President and two new Executive Council members to its leadership; every third year, we also welcome a new Diversity Officer. As you may have read in Immediate Past President Paul Outka’s message to members in December, ASLE is thrilled to announce our newly elected officers, selected by the membership from among an incredibly strong slate of candidates. Cate Sandilands will serve as 2014 Vice President, 2015 President, and 2016 Immediate Past President; Janet Fiskio and Byron Caminero-Santangelo will serve as 2014-2016 Executive Council members-at-large; and Sarah Wald will serve as 2014-2016 Diversity Officer.
Though newly elected, none of these individuals is new to ASLE. From 2010-2012, Cate Sandilands served on ASLE’s Executive Council (while also serving, during part of that time, as president of the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada (ALECC)), and served on the planning committee for the 2011 and 2013 ASLE conferences. Those members who attended the 2009 ASLE Conference in Victoria, B.C., will remember Sandilands’ lively plenary session which addressed critical challenges for the future of ecocriticism, a field that she has contributed to immensely in the years since. A longtime member of the faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, where she serves as Canada Research Chair of Sustainability and Culture, Sandilands is committed during her tenure at ASLE’s helm to “develop[ing] stronger cooperative ties with our sister organizations internationally” and sees ASLE as being “uniquely positioned to tie together our longstanding scholarly, environmental and political commitments…with newer works concerned with globalization, petrocultures, digitalization, agential plurality, and resiliences/resistences in the Anthropocence.” Author of Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire; The Good – Natured Feminist: Ecofeminism and the Quest for Democracy; as well as numerous publications on queer, feminist, anti-racist, and multispecies justice, Sandilands says she has “developed a deep commitment to the importance of combining theoretical intelligence with political/ecological attentiveness and relevance.” She brings this commitment, along with many exciting ideas for the shaping of the 2015 ASLE Conference, with her as she continues her service to ASLE in this new role.
Both the newly elected Executive Council members and Diversity Officer have likewise served ASLE in many capacities in the past. Most recently, Byron Caminero- Santangelo served as site host for the 2013 ASLE Conference in Lawrence, where he is Associate Professor and governance faculty member of Environmental Studies at the University of Kansas. He brings a “passion for building bridges across disciplines and between academics and community-based organizations” to his role on the EC. This passion is evident in his books Environment at the Margins: Literary and Environmental Studies in Africa and Different Shades of Green: African Literature, Environmental Justice, and Political Ecology, as well as with grassroots efforts to oppose road construction on a sacred wetland adjoining Haskell Indian Nations University (a project that received ASLE’s inaugural Community Grant in 2013).
Janet Fiskio, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College, first joined the ASLE community while a doctoral student at the University of Oregon, where she helped host the 2005 ASLE Conference in Eugene. At the 2013 Conference, Fiskio facilitated (with Michael Ziser) a pre-conference seminar on Climate Change, and also currently serves as ASLE’s liaison to the Association for Environmental Philosophy. Fiskio’s current book project, Counter Friction: Poetics and Politics in Climate Justice, “examines the contributions of literature, art, performance, and protest to constructing spaces for participatory democracy to emerge.”
Sarah Wald, newly elected Diversity Officer, also joined ASLE at the 2005 Conference in Eugene, while a graduate student, and has been an active member of the Diversity Caucus ever since. She sees ASLE’s Diversity Caucus members as “uniquely situated not only to identify barriers to equity and inclusion, but also to envision new opportunities to support justice-oriented research, pedagogy, and community engagement.” As both an academic and an activist, Wald has a deep commitment to “issues of inclusion and equity,” and will strive as Diversity Officer to “promote an inclusive and accessible ASLE.” Wald is currently Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Louisville.
In addition to these elected posts, ASLE also welcomes newly appointed Graduate Student Liaison Clare Echterling. A doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas, Echterling was instrumental in preparing for and pulling off the successful 2013 ASLE Conference in Lawrence, assisting then-President Paul Outka and site host Byron Caminero-Santangelo.
Several other former members of ASLE’s elected leadership likewise deserve our thanks and gratitude as their terms come to a close. Outgoing Diversity Officer Salma Monani and outgoing Executive Council Members Anthony Lioi and Kimberly Ruffin have contributed greatly to ASLE during their three-year terms. Lastly, Immediate Past President Joni Adamson (2012 President, 2011 Vice President) leaves large shoes to fill. As Paul Outka expressed in his announcement to members in December, “from her initiation of ASLE’s new grant programs, to the development of our new logo, to her tireless and always astute engagement with a myriad of individual issues, Joni’s leadership has made ASLE a more generous, better organized, and more inclusive organization.” ASLE is, in short, a better organization, thanks to all of your hard work