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Covid-19 (coronavirus) and ACE 2020 Conference

March 24, 2020

Dear ACE Members,

Yesterday, the ACE Board of Directors made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person Chicago conference. For many of us, the annual ACE conference is an opportunity to recharge our professional development, reconnect with old friends and meet new friends. I share in your disappointment, but in light of the developing COVID-19 situation, we were left with no other decision. The health and safety of ACE members must come first and foremost.

While this is disappointing news, I believe that this is also an opportunity for ACE to lead the way in providing much needed communications, issues management and crisis management resources as we work our way through these challenging times. I have asked Craig Woods, ACE Professional Development Director, to plan a series of bi-weekly webinars on communications issues related to COVID-19. These webinars will not only be available to our members, but will also be provided at no cost to all interested communications professionals outside of ACE. As these webinars become available, please be sure to pass this information along to your colleagues.

Fortunately, not all of the news is bad. We are in the process of developing a virtual conference in lieu of this year’s face-to-face Chicago conference. I’ve asked our Executive Director, Deb Ryan, to take the lead in developing a plan for a virtual conference, with consultation as needed from the 2020 conference committee. To the many of you whose session proposals were accepted, Deb and her team will be reaching out soon to gauge your interest in participating virtually. If you’re interested in being a part of something ACE has never done before, please contact either myself or Deb Ryan. We’d be especially interested in the expertise of distance learning and IT professionals.

ACE was founded in 1913 and has been witness to many historical events; two world wars, the moon landing, 9/11 and even the flu pandemic of 1918. The only time an ACE conference was previously cancelled was during World War II. One thing remains certain, ACE has been there through the good times and the bad. I know that we will meet this challenge and be a much stronger organization when we emerge on the other side.

Even though we are in an uncertain time, one thing is certain. We need to keep growing as professionals to better serve our clientele, researchers, students and stakeholders. While it seems like a lot of activities are on hold, communications are never on hold. Now more than ever, people will need the unbiased, research-based information that we provide. I can think of no better place to prepare for the challenges ahead, than ACE.

If you have questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me at dedlund@tennessee.edu.

Stay healthy, stay safe and until next time, I wish you all the best.

Doug Edlund

ACE President


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ACE develops the professional skills of education, government and research communicators, and information technologists to extend knowledge about agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences to people worldwide.

We are a vibrant, international association of communicators, educators and information technologists.  The independent, non–profit organization offers professional development and networking for individuals who extend knowledge about agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences.



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