Dear SIVB members, colleagues, and students,
I would like to start this report by thanking all of you for the countless e-mails, phone calls and messages that I received, as the President of SIVB, in response to the sad news about the untimely loss of Marietta Wheaton Saunders. Marietta was the Managing Director of our Society for over 30 years. In 2004, Marietta became the President of New Beginnings Management Inc., a company she established in North Carolina. While functioning as the SIVB’s Managing Director, she served as a consultant for our organization. A decade later, her guidance for cost savings and investment measures allowed securing a financial stability for the SIVB. While working with our Society over the years, Marietta also worked for the American Red Cross, United Way, and NC Academy for Family Physicians, among other organizations. As President of New Beginnings Management, she spearheaded multiple international workshops and symposia with North Carolina State University. Marietta’s deep understanding of SIVB was essential for our organization to succeed. Her diligent work, numerous initiatives, and genuine care for the SIVB facilitated a bright future of sustainability and growth for our organization. Marietta touched each one of us in so many ways, and every one of us treasures unique memories of her. I met Marietta for the first time when I arrived as a guest speaker to the 2010 SIVB meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. She warmly welcomed me to the conference, handed me the registration packet, and invited me to reach out to her if I have any questions about the SIVB. Since that meeting, I have had the privilege and responsibility of serving in multiple leadership roles in our organization, and as such, I have been in close contact with Marietta over the years, learned a lot from her, and shared with her the passion for the continued growth and success of the SIVB. She will be missed.
I am very thankful for the rapid response and immediate support of the Executive Committee of the SIVB Board of Directors — Barbara B. Doonan (Treasurer), Allan R. Wenck (Past President and Chair, Nominating Committee), Piero Barone (President Elect and Chair, Long Range Planning Committee), Michael K. Dame (Vice President and Chair, Development Committee), and Mae Ciancio (Secretary) — as we began delivering the heartbreaking news about the passing of Marietta to the entire Board of Directors, Section Officers, Committee Chairs and Program Committee Members, SIVB Journal Editors, Session Conveners and speakers, broader SIVB members and students, supporters, exhibitors, and SIVB vendors and supporting network. I am very grateful for Marietta’s family who retain ownership of New Beginnings Management and are determined to continue Marietta’s work, with the leadership of Joy Francis, New Beginnings Management, Inc., Business Manager, who assumed the role of Chief Financial Officer, ad interim. I would also like to express tremendous gratitude and appreciation to Michele G. Schultz, who was Marietta’s right hand, colleague, and friend for 24 years. Michele, who is well versed in the organization’s history and operations, as well as involved in the day-to-day tasks of the SIVB, assumed the responsibilities of the Acting Managing Director. She continues to work tirelessly on numerous SIVB’s functions, while keeping all activities and plans on schedule as we head towards our 2023 In Vitro Biology Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia, this June. Moving forward without Marietta is, undoubtedly, one of the most difficult challenges that our organization has ever met. However, I would like to assure you that we are committed to this process, committed to honor her legacy, and committed to see the SIVB grow and continue making an impact in the field of in vitro biology of both plants and animals, including humans.
The Spring meeting of the SIVB Board of Directors was held via Zoom on Saturday, March 4th. The first hour of that meeting was dedicated to this transition and the way forward, discussing and deciding on protocols as the SIVB moves onward and strives to honor Marietta’s legacy. We received reports from the Treasurer (B. Doonan), the 2023 Meeting Program Committee (H. Luo) and the student co-chairs (J. Hoeger and C. Yevtushenko), Development Committee and Fundraising (M. K. Dame), Award Committee (D. Tomes), Publications Committee (M. Fay and M. Schultz), Nominating Committee (A. Wenck), Membership Committee (V. Dayeh and M. Schultz), Long Range Planning Committee (P. Barone), Public Policy Committee and PlantGene Protocols update (W. Parrott), as well as the Education Committee (B. Upham). We commended Wayne Parrott, Todd Jones and Allan Wenck who have worked diligently and in a timely manner to prepare a comprehensive response to a Call for Comment on Docket No. USDA-APHIS-2022-0076, “Request for Information: Identifying Ambiguities, Gaps, Inefficiencies, and Uncertainties in the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology,” which was published by the Office of Science and Technology and the Coordinated Framework agencies. This area is of great importance not only for our Plant Biotechnology Section but also for the Animal Cell Science Section, as it relates to aspects of regulation around gene-edited animals. We discussed the 2024 World Congress of the SIVB and future annual meetings. While many Action Items have been completed since our last Board of Directors meeting in October 2022, many new Action Items have emerged throughout the discussions at our virtual March meeting. As our organization moves forward, it is our hope that each of us can honor Marietta’s memory by participating in the countless educational, social and leadership activities and possibilities that are an integral part of the SIVB. So, renew your SIVB membership, become a new member, and get involved! We need you!
The 2023 SIVB annual Meeting will be held at the Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 East Main Street, Norfolk, VA, from June 10 – 14, 2023. This will be the second in-person meeting after the COVID-19 pandemic — this time on the East Coast — where we will be able to meet in-person, mix and mingle, enjoy opportunities to share our research and learn from others, and benefit from terrific networking possibilities. For more information about the Meeting Program and its on-demand recorded component, renewing your SIVB membership and registering to the meeting, submitting scientific abstracts, participating in special educational and social events, and making hotel reservations as part of the SIVB’s room block, please check the meeting website.
I look forward to welcoming you to the 2023 SIVB meeting in Norfolk, VA!
Addy Alt-Holland, PhD, MSc