DHN – Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries – was supposed to have its 4th International Conference and Annual Members’ Meeting in beautiful Riga/Latvia in March 2020. Then COVID-19 happened and the conference was postponed to late October 2020 – and with it the Members’ Meeting and the announcement of the results of the Board election and the election of the officers of the Board.
Nevertheless, work for the Board did not stop – with very short notice, serious and long-sighted decisions had to be made in times of great uncertainty, stress, and worry. So, it was without the appropriate festive framing and severity that we said farewell to our retiring Vice-Chair and long-standing Board member Bente Mægaard who had substantially shaped DHN and chaired the DHN2019 conference in Copenhagen/Denmark last year. And it was under equally modest circumstances that we welcomed our new Board member, Costanza Navarretta, and to welcome our re-elected Board members Olga Holownia and Ditte Laursen for three more years. Due to Bente’s retirement, the office of Vice-Chair had become vacant and the election of officers by the Board members was to be held during a virtual meeting, too.
I have been on the Board of DHN since its foundation on April 23, 2015, in Oslo/Norway. I had been one of the small group of people who had been working on getting the first Nordic DH conference going and who came to the assumption that it would be good to have an association officially backing a conference of that scale and to serve as a meeting place for all the disparate Nordic digital humanities scholars and ‘alt-acs’.
During the 5 years of serving DHN, I have been serving as deputy treasurer, then as treasurer and helped consolidating DHN financially and in this capacity also helped organising the membership management. I have been the EADH AO Forum liason and served in this role for more than two years. I’ve been handling a plethora of tasks as a Board member of a young association, and boy has it been a ride!
Since Monday, May 4, 2020, I have been elected as Vice-Chair of DHN! It was not an easy decision for me. I had stepped in as a deputy treasurer in 2017 and when I was officially elected as Treasurer in 2018, I set out to sort out DHN’s financial obligations, the membership management, the intricacies of DHN’s membership affiliation with EADH and the day-to-day business of a medium-sized, international association that has to handle a budget. My aim was to tidy up the workflows of the treasurer business and the membership management, to document tasks, and establish good routines. Even though I think I succeeded, it still feels like there is a lot to do. It’s no easy task if you are an association dealing with international membership and lots of cross-border payments (exchange rate fluctuations…) and the challenges that come with DHN being officially registered in Sweden but the treasurer is a German citizen living permanently in Norway.
So, when I was asked if I would consider becoming Vice-Chair of DHN, I felt that while I was acknowledged for my many contributions to DHN throughout the years and offered more responsibilities but also more visibility, that I was abandoning the treasurer office without having achieved everything I set out to do. Objectively, that is not the case. However, human nature is such that the person who has been working on a task long enough often only sees all the tiny threads they were not able to gather instead of the sturdy rope they have been twisting. I’m happy to be handing over the treasurer task to fellow DHN Board member Veronika Laippala whom I trust completely in that she will be doing an awesome job handling DHN’s account and membership obligations.
With this being said: I am proud to be now the Vice-Chair of the association that I helped bringing into life. I will be continuing the former Vice-Chair’s work on the DHN constitution and together with the other Board members shape DHN’s strategy and its short and long-term objectives. DHN-members should not expect anything less from me than passion, dedication, and excellence in fulfilling the office of Vice-Chair. It is my pleasure!