GWS Strategic Statement, 2008-2012

ORIGINS
Founded in 1980, The George Wright Society is organized for the purposes of promoting the application of knowledge, fostering communication, improving resource management, and providing information to improve public understanding and appreciation of the basic purposes of natural and cultural parks and equivalent reserves. The Society is dedicated to the protection, preservation, and management of cultural and natural parks and reserves through research and education.

MISSION
The George Wright Society advances the scientific and heritage values of parks and protected areas. The Society promotes professional research and resource stewardship across natural and cultural disciplines, provides avenues of communication, and encourages public policies that embrace these values.

OUR GOAL
The Society strives to be the premier organization connecting people, places, knowledge, and ideas to foster excellence in natural and cultural resource management, research, protection, and interpretation in parks and equivalent reserves.

STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS

1. Enhance fiscal solvency while actively seeking to expand our financial, governance, and administrative capacities so that we are in a position to seize new opportunities when they arise. (Leads: Finance and Development Committees)

Actions

  1. Create a Board Development and Recruitment Strategy that proactively identifies needs of the GWS and matches them to the skills of existing and potential Board members. Identify and if feasible engage in professionally facilitated Board development seminars.
  2. Develop a Staff Capacity Strategy that identifies the organization’s vision the executive office, along with new and expanded activities that would be possible with optimal staffing. Identify and if feasible engage in professionally facilitated employee development seminars.
  3. Commission a Financial Review by a qualified CPA firm sometime during the 2008–2012 period, and once every four years thereafter. Continue to adhere to the GWS Investment Strategy and review annually for any needed changes.
  4. Identify new possibilities for building the GWS 30th Anniversary Fund (e.g., bequest planning kits for Life Members, investigate NEH challenge grants for endowment, etc.).
  5. Bi-annually review membership and conference fee structure. Survey membership and conference fees for comparable organizations and review/revise GWS fee structures accordingly to maintain adequate financial resources for baseline activities.
  6. Explore grant opportunities for all actions items in this Strategic Statement.

Benchmarks of success

2. Build membership. Membership in the GWS is widely considered a “must” for park and protected area professionals. (Lead: Development Committee)

Actions

  1. Develop a membership profile that, for the first time, gives the Board a complete picture of who our members are, why they joined, what benefits they feel they get from being a member, and what their priorities for the organization are.
  2. Produce (via the Development Committee) a comprehensive membership development strategy.
  3. Expand the Development Committee to include non-Board GWS members from target audiences (e.g., non-natural resource professionals, people in non-NPS agencies, citizen scientists, students, etc.).
  4. With the membership profile in hand, produce a comprehensive membership development strategy that includes: (A) a systematic method for identifying members who wish to volunteer for GWS tasks, such as a job sign-up list; (B) a new member recruitment toolkit, including things such as a GWS PowerPoint or digital video (podcast) overviews, GWS logo t-shirts, bookmarks, etc.); (C) means to actively promote membership in specific categories; (D) a target for total member numbers and youth/minority composition; and (E) a review of membership categories and recommendations (if any) for revision.

Benchmarks of success

3. Increase the visibility and connectedness of the organization so that GWS is better known to the audiences we wish to reach — make GWS “the NPR of protected areas.” (Lead: Outreach Committee)

Action

  1. Create a new Outreach Committee of the whole Board to carry out this strategic direction.
  2. Continue close relationship with IUCN; seek to expand involvement with ICOMOS. Seek strategic alliances with advocacy NGOs such as National Parks Conservation Association and Coalition of National Park Retirees, etc., and professional associations such as American Society for Environmental History, American Society of Landscape Architects, Natural Areas Association, Society for Conservation Biology, etc., when consonant with GWS’s non-partisan mission. When possible, make sure GWS has a presence at major national and international meetings, such as the World Conservation Congress, World Wilderness Congress, etc.
  3. Renew efforts to reach out to potential growth audiences in non-NPS agencies, such as state park agencies, tribal governments, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries, BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System, TNC, etc.
  4. Leverage special publicity opportunities, such as Burns film series, to increase visibility and membership (e.g., Haas grant).
  5. Update website and expand reach of Forum, as detailed below.
  6. Issue GWS press releases and non-partisan statements on relevant resource issues affecting parks and protected areas, as appropriate.

Benchmarks of success

4. Continue to develop the GWS’s role as a leading convener and facilitator of conferences on parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. (Leads: Conference and Development Committees; staff)

Actions

  1. Maintain and enhance the GWS biennial conference as the USA’s premier interdisciplinary professional meeting on parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. Continually seek new topics and new presentation methods to keep the meeting dynamic. Enhance support of key partners, including aggressively pursuing NPS cultural resource support. Continue to request sessions on Mexican and Canadian parks. Explore possibility of doing web broadcasts of plenary sessions.
  2. Expand the George Melendez Wright Student Travel Scholarship program and the Native Participant Travel Grant program.
  3. Evaluate feasibility and opportunities for additional GWS-convened symposia in off-conference years. Develop roster of key issues that might form the topics of such symposia. Consider separate Symposia Committee to address these smaller conferences and their format, undistracted from planning for the biennial conference.
  4. Continue to raise the organization’s profile by facilitating and potentially co-sponsoring selected non-GWS meetings on parks, as staff time allows (this function is known as “GWS Conferencing Services”).
  5. Seek ways to minimize the environmental impact of all conferences and symposia GWS convenes or otherwise helps organize, including exploring virtual conferencing technologies.
  6. Use carbon footprint calculators to proxy-measure the environmental impact of GWS conference activity, and then take steps to reduce our footprint.

Benchmarks of success

5. Enhance the quality and expand the influence of the GWS’s publications so that they are seen as a principal clearinghouse for information about protected area research and management (Leads: Publications Committee; staff)

Actions

  1. Continue to upgrade the quality of material published in The George Wright Forum, with special emphasis on the NPS Centennial Essays. Ensure that each issue has articles of interest to a variety of audiences. Expand the influence of the Forum by having it indexed by at least one major on-line indexing service.
  2. Overhaul the GWS website so that it conforms to the latest HTML advances. Make the information-rich content of the site easier to access. Increase the interactivity of the website by exploring possibilities for blogging, adding wiki functionality, etc.
  3. As opportunities arise, produce special publications, either as sole publisher, joint publisher, or provider of content to outside publishers.
  4. Seek the most cost-effective ways to produce other GWS publications, such as the GWS conference proceedings, Board election notices, etc.

Benchmarks of success



6. Establish the GWS as a leader in promoting diversity within professions dealing with research in and management of parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. (Leads: Student Development and Native Participant Travel Grant Subcommittees)

Actions

  1. Situate the GMW Student Travel Scholarships, Native Participant Travel Grant, and PARK BREAK programs within a larger, comprehensive strategy for increasing diversity in protected area professions, with a focus on youth and minorities. Build a culture of commitment to the professions among youth and minorities.
  2. Use the ex-officio student Board member and student committee members to recruit youth, especially minority youth.
  3. Explore other ways to promote protected areas as a career to youth and minorities (e.g., collaborate with recruitment efforts by members’ agencies, host mini-job fairs, establish weblink to on-line occupational briefs from Chronicle Guidance and others, conduct/commission polls of protected area employees and feed this info to NPS and others).
  4. Establish Best Student Presentation Award at the GWS conference and advertise among academic community.
  5. Create feedback /evaluation mechanisms for each of our diversity programs.

Benchmarks of success