Letters From Leadership

From the Executive Director

As 2020 came to a close, I was pleased at the way the MAA team pivoted to support our community through an unprecedented disruption of our normal routine, and joined with you to experiment with new technologies to allow us to continue our work in classrooms and boardrooms.

I was also relieved to think that 2021 would allow us to return to our “normal” routines.

Well, to say I was premature would be an understatement! The last year has simply driven home how much is out of our control, and how much uncertainty we must continue to live with.

In the face of such uncertainty, our MAA community bound together to build on what we learned in 2020, and laid plans to expand our work through virtual platforms. 

One of the key lessons we’re learning is how important new mechanisms for maintaining connections through both virtual and physical interactions are to living towards our core value of inclusivity. Regardless of how the COVID pandemic progresses, we know that we can’t simply return to pre-pandemic models of professional engagement. And I’m proud that the MAA community has embraced the journey.

As you read our 2021 Impact Report, you’ll see much of the progress we’ve made and hints of more to come. The future is now, and our MAA community is embracing the opportunities!

Thanks for being a part of our work.

Michael Pearson
Executive Director
Mathematical Association of America
From the President

Let’s be frank, 2021 was not the year we hoped it would be. Many of us remained trapped behind our computer screens, worked from home, and made the best of a difficult situation due to the continuing global pandemic. It was not how I imagined spending my first year as President of MAA. And yet, as this Impact Report shows, there was plenty to celebrate.

A goal for my presidency remains to authentically engage members with little or no opportunity to participate in national meetings. The pandemic-pivot propelled many changes necessary to fulfill that goal. Through the virtual MAA MathFest, webinars, social hours, and MAA Connect, members stayed informed and accessed MAA events from around the globe. I was fortunate to have virtually met new friends that I might not have met for years—if ever.

MAA’s members are the heart and soul of our association. I have belonged to MAA for more than thirty years and am grateful for the opportunities that helped me develop as a teacher, a writer, a leader, and a mathematician. I support MAA through donations of time and money because of the lasting impact it has made on my career. But it is the people of MAA, mathematical friends and family, that make me excited to gather in community, whether virtually or in person.

Thinking back to MAA MathFest 2021, I remember four recurring themes that encapsulated my 2021 experiences well and are worth reiterating:

  • Use what you know to tackle important problems, even if you don’t think that your expertise directly applies.
  • Mathematical paths are rarely direct.
  • Surround yourself with a supportive community.
  • Keep asking questions.

MAA is my supportive community, and I hope it is yours as well. The resilience of the MAA staff, the creativity of our volunteers, and the flexibility of our members were a source of inspiration and strength throughout the year. We worked together to experiment with new technologies and explore new collaboration formats while advancing the understanding of mathematics and its impact on our world.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the MAA.

Jennifer Quinn
Mathematical Association of America

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