• On 01/02/2021
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Handing off


Lisa, 9-10-20, before her last role as Symposium Chair.

In every academic’s career (well any career really), there are moments where you know the time has come…

The first one for me was when a series of conversations and lots of hard work led to the first RHM Symposium in 2013. (Read a short version of the how it came about.)

And then the next thing you know, here we are in 2021, where we’ve had multiple iterations of the Symposium and created a journal, and we are a vibrant community of scholars who now have a sub-field, rhetoric of health and medicine.

It took me years to say out loud without some qualifier or hedge word that I played a primary role in many of these developments. Don’t mis-understand. It was a community effort from the beginning. The list is long of people who did things, who supported directly and indirectly, who showed up, who shared, and who gave of themselves in a multitude of ways. But to keep a new idea moving and growing, usually takes someone in charge who keeps things moving forward. In the early days and the recent days, that was me.

Playing a part in building the RHM community will always be one of my proudest accomplishments. I have been humbled by the generosity of the community; I have been amazed at the intellectual engagement; I have been inspired by the energy and collegiality.

With the posting of the CFP for the 2021 RHM Symposium today, I say a bittersweet goodbye to the thing that I created and envisioned. It is the first of a many hand offs that will happen over the next year. Life happens and changes, and early last year, I had decided to make a number of changes in my academic, professional life.

There were happy tears today when I saw the call came out. The photo on this page is a selfie I took in my front yard in Tampa, FL on September 10, 2020. When I facilitated the closing session of the Symposium 2020, I already knew that it was it was last time as Symposium Chair. I wanted to capture the moment that chronicled the handing off, the evolving of an idea.

I’ve always felt one of the signs of a good leader is knowing when to hand things off, to encourage others to step into leadership roles. Without doubt, the Symposium is in good hands, and I so look forward to seeing what happens next and enjoying participating as just another member of the community.

Thank y’all for your participation all these years to make the Symposium one of the most unique, scholarly experiences. And more so, thank you for letting me be a part of it.

See you in the community spaces!


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