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For many members of CSWA, it might feel like a lifetime since a team sat down in 2004 to consider candidates to replace Andy Visser-deVries as the organization’s Administrative Director – a post he had occupied so long that any preceding period practically faded from living memory.
Indeed, the last seven years qualify as well as a lifetime in the history of CSWA: an era that has seen unprecedented progress in the direction and momentum of the Association.
That progress is linked directly to the hiring of outgoing Executive Director Kristina Bergen to fill the large shoes Andy left behind. She did much more than fill them, but actually made them all the larger for her successor.
Her tenure included a growth in membership to more than 600, while the CSWA web site has emerged as a lynchpin for services and activities that have become ever more diverse.
Above all, Kristina brought an unrivalled style to the intricate business of running the annual conference, turning it into a high profile showcase for everything CSWA represents.
A coast-to-coast legacy
No one else would have dared to hire the Juno-Award-winning Irish Descendants and put them on a boat in St. John’s harbour for a 2006 awards ceremony featuring Appleton’s Rum as a sponsor. And yet this ended up a being a highlight of the very first Canadian science writers’ gathering in Newfoundland.
Likewise, few would ever have imagined that hundreds would make their way to a similar gathering North of 60, yet there they were in 2008, next to a stern wheeler beached along the Yukon River, listening to a French a cappella choir.
A touch of grace
Neither of these extraordinary assemblies would have been possible without the skill and professionalism Kristina has embodied over the last seven years. Nor is it any accident that music served as the finishing touch in such cases, for Kristina has displayed an unerring instinct for grace notes of every sort, which have abounded within CSWA since she arrived.
Newcomers may not notice it as much, but longer-standing members have appreciated the panache Kristina has bestowed on the Association – a realization that this is much more than a simple meeting point for people with a common interest in science communication. She has acted on a vision that would have been familiar to the founders of CSWA, who sought to define a venue for weighing matters of national or even global importance.
This is not the work of any one person, or any one lifetime; in fact, it becomes the task of everyone who joins, each time adding yet another facet to what has become a unique entity on the Canadian media landscape.
Kristina has in one sense done no more than add her own facet, yet in so doing, allowed the whole structure of CSWA to shine in ways that many had never thought possible.
This rich legacy of accomplishment, shot through with grace notes that will continue to reverberate, has earned her the unending gratitude of all who have benefitted from her devotion.
- Tim Lougheed, science writer, CSWA president 2005-2009