President’s Letter – The Transparency Project: Episode 2

Judy CallisContinuing our transparency project, in this President’s Letter I discuss a proposal for a new name and mission statement for one of our standing committees, the Minority Affairs Committee (MAC), and highlight the activities of another standing committee, the Women in Plant Biology (WIPB) Committee.

Minority Affairs Committee

Our standing committees work hard to identify activities relevant to their missions and provide services for our members and, in some cases, the public. It is natural that both the mission and activities can, and in fact should, evolve over time. In the past year, MAC has been engaged in internal discussions and in conversations with membership and leadership aimed at identifying current issues it wishes to address and renewing the committee’s focus on activities that promote diversity and inclusion in our Society and at our sponsored meetings. MAC chair Gustavo MacIntosh (Iowa State University) is leading the discussion.

MAC is proposing to broaden its mission to promote diversity and inclusion in our community across multiple facets, including (but not exclusively) ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religious affiliation. In addition, the proposed changes include a name change from MAC to the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. Future activities will include workshops and development of information to educate us about implicit biases and increase our awareness of the viewpoints and challenges faced by people who identify with these communities. The objective is to determine what ASPB can do to be more inclusive as a professional society.

Finally, the committee wants a mechanism to assess the impact of its activities to identify those that have positive outcomes relative to its mission; self-assessment is essential for remaining relevant and improving or modifying activities. The current MAC looks forward to working with other standing committees to coordinate activities where there are shared or overlapping missions.

The next steps will be to develop a specific mission statement; to propose the changes in name, mission, and activities (both generally and for Plant Biology 2020) to the Council for incorporation in the Society’s bylaws and constitution; and finally to obtain membership approval.

We welcome your comments. To submit comments, please email and enter “MAC proposal feedback” in the subject line.

Women in Plant Biology Committee

I would also like to highlight the activities of the WIPB standing committee (current members are listed at

  • Meet the current chair, Laura Wayne, and hear about WIPB in a short video (
  • Check out the Women in Plant Biology Network hosted by WIPB on Plantae at
    organization/women-in-plant-biology/dashboard. View past webinars at this site, and keep going back to it for new ones in the future. Also see Eva Farre’s page highlighting notable women scientists.
  • Follow WIPB’s activities on Twitter @ASPB_WIPB.

WIPB has linked to the Plantae Mentoring Center ( If you want to give back, please sign up to be a mentor. If you’re looking for a mentor, check out this resource.

Other Transparency News

Two ad hoc committees have been formed and are busy. One is examining the nominations process, and the other is working to develop a Society code of conduct, building on a AAAS consortium developing such documents. ASPB is a founding member of this consortium, so we plan to use the efforts of this group to produce an ASPB-centric document.


Just a reminder that nominations for elected positions close on February 12th. Nominations for ASPB awards close on February 19th, so submit your nominations soon. We are accepting nominations for president-elect and secretary-elect. In both positions, after one year, the incumbent transitions to president and secretary, respectively. Feel free to self-nominate or ask a colleague to nominate you! (I have it on good authority that self-nomination is a real thing.)

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