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The relevance of ISTSS remains high during these troubling times when much of the news from around the world is that of trauma. Once considered outside of the range of normal human experience (DSM-III), it is now recognized that exposure to traumatic events is ubiquitous globally, making the work that ISTSS does even more critical. The Board of Directors recently concluded our mid-year board meeting where much of the focus was a thorough review of our Strategic Plan progress. This review process made one thing very clear: Despite our shared and individual challenges over the last few years, ISTSS members and leaders have remained steadfast in their pursuit of the ISTSS mission and Strategic Plan. I will take this opportunity to highlight some recent areas of progress.  


ISTSS promotes excellence in research, clinical practice, training, and public health related to experiences of traumatic stress. With traumatic stress so frequently in the public eye, ISTSS must play a key role in disseminating empirically supported knowledge about traumatic stress. Our Public Information and Education Committee (PIE Committee) has been very active implementing the comprehensive educational content plan that the Board of Directors approved. They have created fact sheets and they have rolled out an initiative called Friday Fast Facts wherein a new timely topic is presented with ‘small-bite’ learning products released each Friday of a given month (e.g., short videos, fact sheets, infographics, podcasts, webinars). Our Website Committee has also collaborated with the PIE Committee to post timely resources related to the war in Ukraine. Building from the knowledge base of the ISTSS Treatment Guidelines, the Executive Committee coordinated ISTSS’s collaboration with the World Health Organization, and partner Phoenix Australia, to contribute to further guideline development in this area. Lastly, through a collaboration with the Public Health and Policy Committee and the Data Committee, a member survey was implemented and analyzed to inform future planning and initiatives to help address trauma-related public health and policy issues across the globe. The results of this survey will be used to inform the selection of the next ISTSS Briefing Paper topic.  


ISTSS promotes professional, demographic, cultural and geographic diversity and inclusivity among our membership. We value different perspectives and create an atmosphere of, and opportunities for, respectful dialogue and exchange of ideas and experiences. We have learned new ways of connecting and engaging as a community in the virtual environment spurred by the pandemic. Growing from the success of our Conversation and Consultation initiative at the Annual Meeting led by our Membership Engagement Task Force, ISTSS has now launched a Conversation and Consultation series to be held throughout the year. The ISTSS Annual Meeting Committee (AMC) and the Student Section hosted a number of poster bootcamps to support students in creating their abstract submissions. This team is also rolling out bootcamps that will provide students support in creation of their posters. The Membership Committee has been working diligently to enhance activities for Corresponding Members. As we strive to increase representation of underrepresented scholars in ISTSS, the Diversity and Awards Committees have launched the Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award. In 2021, five outstanding scholars were chosen for this honor.   


ISTSS supports efforts to increase the health and resilience of people and communities globally through the prevention of and response to traumatic stress. One aspect that makes ISTSS unique as an organization is that we truly are a global community. The Global Initiatives Committee (GIC) continues to be very activethey have been working closely with the AMC to increase outreach and engagement of members from underrepresented regions. They have implemented the Global Ambassadors Initiative at the Annual Meeting, which has provided a wonderful pathway for these global leaders to engage with members, including hands-on mentorship for student members to get experience judging posters at the meeting. The GIC and AMC focus each year on a region that has been underrepresented at the Annual Meeting and jointly these groups focus on outreach efforts. This year the focus is on Latin America. ISTSS continually strives to increase global representation at the Annual Meeting; efforts have included hosting abstract writing office hours to help with language barriers, translation of the call for abstracts into multiple languages, and translation of the call for award nominations. ISTSS translation coordinators and the GIC have also helped to increase the reach of our evidence-based materials: the Global Climate Change and Trauma Briefing Paper executive summary has been translated into 11 languages, and our recent webinar materials on the war in Ukraine have been translated into Ukrainian.  


ISTSS acts as a catalyst to energize new approaches to the study, prevention, and treatment of trauma in a scientifically-informed way. We promote innovation in our strategies to transfer knowledge and engage with membership and other stakeholders. Innovation often comes from need. Perhaps our greatest innovation during this Strategic Plan period was pivoting to a virtual Annual Meeting and continuing to improve upon our lessons learned for the subsequent virtual meeting in 2021. Our Meetings of the Future Task Force is actively exploring options for future meetings to ensure that ISTSS remains at the cutting edge of best practices in this space. ISTSS established an Innovation Award in 2020 to recognize cutting-edge work in the trauma. The website editorial team, in collaboration with the PIE Committee, has made numerous improvements to the ISTSS site to highlight new information, and to update key sections of the site including Clinical Resources, Assessments, Fact Sheets, and SIG-specific pages.  


ISTSS’ financial strength provides for the funding of key priorities and opportunities in alignment with the strategic plan. ISTSS went into the pandemic in a position of financial strength, and we have been able to weather the storm of the impacts of the pandemic on revenue. We continue to enact a conservative budget for this fiscal year, while also looking for ways to increase revenue. We established a Revenue Committee that has engaged in a fundraising initiative, guided by an expert consultant in the development space. As membership is critical to all domains of our Strategic Plan, growing membership has been a continued aim. The Membership Committee has been very active. They have established a New Annual Meeting Attendee Orientation to help our attendees feel part of the ISTSS community, thereby creating a pathway to membership. They also continue to implement an annual membership campaign to recruit new members from around the world. 

Working closely on the ISTSS mission with treasured colleagues has been one of the greatest joys of my leadership. In a recent discussion with ISTSS Vice President Nicole Nugent, we were reflecting on ISTSS’s ability to bring together passionate members to help achieve the Strategic Plan objectives in service of the ISTSS mission. Her sage analogy was that it is like the work she does as a child therapist--the positive outcomes are amplified if any member of the family or support unit for the child is involved. This is true for ISTSS as well--we achieve more together. In doing so, we also strengthen the bonds with other members, making ISTSS truly a professional family and home base. This sense of belonging and working together toward strategic goals is needed now more than ever. As our current Strategic Plan is wrapping up, ISTSS will soon be embarking on a new strategic planning process and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me at Ananda.amstadter@vcuhealth.org.