On Friday evening, Ben Bellorado, 2018-2019 Lister Fellow, presented a lecture to a packed crowd in the Mesa Verde Room. During his lecture, “Leaving Footprints in the Ancient U.S. Southwest: Visible Indicators of Group Affiliation and Social Position in the Chaco and Post-Chaco Eras,” Ben shared the exciting results of his research. Ben is the 12th recipient of this fellowship. The Florence C. and Robert H. Lister Fellowship was established in recognition of the lifelong achievements of the late Florence and Robert Lister, noted archaeologists, dedicated educators, and friends and supporters of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. The purpose of the fellowship is to assist graduate students who show promise of making a significant contribution to the archaeological knowledge of American Indian cultures of the Southwest. Recipients of the Lister Fellowship are awarded a stipend of $10,000 to help support the final stages of their research and the writing of their dissertations.
On Saturday morning, a small but enthusiastic group enjoyed a tour of the Haynie Site with Kellam Throgmorton. The Annual Meeting followed, beginning at 11 AM. As promised in my last message, I wanted to share some of the important topics and remarks from this meeting with our supporters. In addition to our Board of Trustees, about 30 guests and staff attended the Annual Meeting. One of the major business items at this time of year is to elect and announce the slate of officers for the coming year. The officers elected for 2020 are:
- Ricky Lightfoot, Chair
- Leslie Masson, Vice Chair
- Pamela Powell, Secretary
- Liz Perry, President, and CEO
- Carla Hoehn, Chief Financial Officer
Ricky opened the meeting with his Chairman’s message, which began with recognition of some important friends and former leaders at Crow Canyon. We are still mourning the recent passing of our dear friend and former Board member Bill Huff, who was much beloved by our Crow Canyon family. Trustee Barbara Schwietert is retiring from the Board after 16 years of committed and tremendously valuable service. Our longtime CFO Gayle Prior, who came out of retirement to assist with our financial turnaround, is now able to return to retirement with the election of our new CFO, Carla Hoehn. We are very grateful that Gayle and former Board member Gene Bradley have agreed to serve on a new Financial Advisory Committee and continue to lend their expertise and assistance to our team as we advance Crow Canyon’s financial and business improvements.
Ricky shared that this was his 35th annual meeting, having started his career at Crow Canyon in 1984. Our founder, Stuart Struever, had a vision for Crow Canyon as a new model for sustaining archaeological research through private funding and public participation. “After 35 years, we have accomplished a lot related to our mission, and we have survived many challenges. We have been resilient,” Ricky said. He concluded his remarks by saying, “I am confident that Crow Canyon’s best days lie ahead, because we have a deep bench of talent on our staff and we have a broad network of supporters across the country who care about the future of Crow Canyon.”
Following Ricky’s message, I shared some of my impressions after 18 months as President. It is my experience that the defining qualities of Crow Canyon’s staff and stakeholders are resilience, passion, and perseverance. These qualities have helped us overcome our obstacles in the past and they are the key to our successful future. Our own organizational history tells us that every dozen years or so, we face challenges that give us an opportunity to take stock of who we are, what we want to do in the world, and how we will focus our energies and talents
Over the last year, our staff spent time together discussing these big questions. We agree that in all the work we do, we seek to:
- Broaden understanding of our shared human experience
- Show the relevance of our research to the challenges of the present
- Produce and share our research results and information in impactful ways
- Reach many learners of all kinds
- Be a sustainable and sustaining organization
In order to meet this goal of sustaining the important work of our organization, this year we have taken some key actions to make us more efficient at achieving our mission, such as consolidating the delivery of our educational programs, archaeological research, and Native American partnerships into a single collaborative department under our long-time leader, Dr. Susan Ryan. For 2020, we have compressed the on-campus program season to April through August in order to give our scholars and educators time to focus on research completion, new project development, new program and curriculum development, and finding new and meaningful ways to incorporate American Indian knowledge into our projects and programs. We have also significantly streamlined and reduced our marketing and administrative functions.
At the end of the meeting, we invited questions and discussion from the audience. We were so pleased with the interest and engagement of everyone who attended, and we had a number of robust conversations. The major areas of interest of the audience included:
- Outreach: New ideas for digital outreach through social media, and how to reach as many people as possible with information about Crow Canyon
- Governance: Implementation of best practices for governance, such as regular evaluation of our audit firms
- Mission: The infusion of our mission in everything we do, including our travel programs, which are designed to expand our research to a global scale
- Program Changes: After much consideration, we are not offering the 3-week High School Field School in 2020. New camp regulations that were instituted in Colorado this past year have made camp operations cost-prohibitive. We are working on solutions for future years, and we are offering one-week High School and Middle School camps, College Field School, and teacher workshops in 2020.
The best part of the Annual Meeting for me was this open discussion with our audience. I am so grateful for our loyal supporters who have seen us through our successes and our challenges. All of us at Crow Canyon is inspired to sharpen our focus on our mission for the year ahead.
Thanks to the support of people like you, we are strong.
Thank you for your loyal support of Crow Canyon!