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I am truly honored and humbled to serve as the president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, especially during these trying times due to the global pandemic.
I can only start this column by addressing how challenging 2020 was for us all. 2020 will be remembered as a year that saw a range of unprecedented threats to the existence and welfare of our communities and to our planet as a whole, with events ranging from major wildfires to mounting political tensions to a global pandemic. Many of us, like billions around the globe, have experienced major disruptions in our professional, personal and social lives. While the pandemic and its repercussions have also impacted ISTSS in terms of its operations and finances, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to minimize this impact as much as possible: our current and past ISTSS leadership, who ensured our organization was financially strong; Kellen staff and all who made our first-ever virtual annual meeting possible; and all of you who believe in our mission and continue to support it despite all the ongoing challenges affecting your lives! Thanks to all of you, ISTSS was able to carry out its mission in 2020, leveraging its expertise to support many exposed to the consequences of the pandemic while also successfully conducting its first virtual annual meeting. I am delighted to report that the ISTSS 36th Annual Meeting attracted more than 1,400 individuals from over 30 countries! In addition, I would like to remind everyone that recorded sessions will be available to all registrants for an entire year! This effort thus makes available to each registrant much more ISTSS-vetted scientific content than ever before. Recorded sessions are available here[Editor’s note: Only those who registered for the ISTSS 36th Annual Meeting ‎will be able to view the recorded sessions.]
ISTSS is starting 2021 in a very good place financially and is ready to continue carrying out its mission to support individuals affected by traumatic stress across the globe. Our detailed business report is available here. ‎[Editor’s note: This report consists of the slide presentation shared at the ISTSS Business ‎Meeting during the ISTSS 36th Annual Meeting.]‎
Finally, I would like to add that, although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a tragedy for millions around the globe, it has also highlighted how important social connections are to our well-being, how critical evidence-based public health is when dealing with major health crises, and how international collaborations—not competition—are the only option to address global health problems. This is to say that during this global health crisis, ISTSS, its mission and its Strategic Plan are all the more relevant. I also think that global events, such as the current pandemic, open a window of opportunity to reshape the course of our future. Just as exposures to traumatic events can at times result in traumatic growth, we can also hope for post-pandemic growth for ourselves, our communities and ISTSS.
I am convinced that our ISTSS community, both through its individual members and as an organization, can and will play a major role in what is to come this year at the local and global levels. As Master Yoda put it a long time ago in a galaxy far, far way: “In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” I believe ISTSS is critically positioned to bring that little more knowledge to light our way!