By Véronique Morin
The World Federation of Science journalists elected a new board during its General Assembly held during the World Conference of Science Journalists in London. Nadia El-Awady was acclaimed president, following tradition that a science journalist representing the host country of the next WCSJ, becomes president of the federation.
Earlier this week, the WFSJ announced that the Arab Science Journalists’ Association won the bid jointly with the American National Association of Science Writers to host the next conference in Cairo, Egypt, in 2011. Two new board members have also been elected: Christophe Mvondo, President of the Cameroon Association and Natasha Mitchell from Australia. Valeria Roman of Argentina is promoted to vice-president, Pallab Ghosh remains on the board as past president and treasurer, Deborah Blum of the United States, who will co-organize the Cairo conference also remains on the board, as well as Jia Hepeng of China.
In her acceptance speech, El-Awady said she was looking forward to receiving comments from the members of the federation and work with her new board. "We have as priority to improve our budget and I want to hear from you as to how we can serve you better. When we get back home we will set up a new listserv and keep in touch," she told the general assembly.
Stepping down as president, Pallab Ghosh took the opportunity to thank members for allowing him to serve as president with “(…) a clever group [board] where everybody listens to each other.” He said that these past two years were some of the most satisfying and worthwhile of his life. “The WFSJ is a vision which I was thrilled to contribute to.” He also thanked the two board members who have finished their terms: Diran Onifade from Nigeria and Wilson DaSilva of Australia.
Two constitutional amendments were dealt with by the Assembly: one minor change which allows a board member to serve a third consecutive mandate only as past president. And a more major change which is designed to include two new classes of members in the ranks of the federation: Associate and Corporate (see Constitution online). These two new types of members will not have voting rights, but will allow the federation to build long term partnerships with groups that have shown a genuine interest in the wellbeing and the success of the World Federation.
With the associate class of members, the WFSJ immediately voted in favor of accepting the Council for the Advancement of Science writing, CASW, which is a U.S. based group organizing workshops for science journalists. Deborah Blum, who is also on the board of the CASW explained that: "When CNN dismantled its science unit, CASW was behind the initiative to write a letter of protest against the situation, along with the WFSJ."
80 representatives of member associations attended the General Assembly which ended with cheers and warm handshakes.