Inside AAA is a blog series that provides readers the opportunity to get a glimpse of the people who work for you, the AAA member. In this series, staff members provide insight on their job and themselves.
This week, Inside AAA features AAA’s Coordinator, Meetings & Conferences, Andrew Russell. Andrew is responsible for overseeing special events and projects related to AAA’s Annual Meeting and new conference initiatives. He also assists section planners responsible for workshops and special events at the Annual Meeting. Contact Andrew (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions about webinars, workshops, the meetings website, and any other meeting related inquiries. Andrew is also your point of contact for the AAA Photo Contest and the This is Anthropology initiative.
What lead you to your current position with AAA?
Amazingly LinkedIn (keep your profiles updated, you never know!). I was working at UPenn as a research assistant, under the incredible Dr. Greg Urban, and our project was wrapping up and school was starting. We had been doing an educational film series, and it really seemed to resonate with folks, so when I saw the AAA was hiring someone to help with the Annual Meeting and do some digital content development, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.
What is your favorite on-the-job task?
In general I’ve been tasked a lot with finding new ways to engage the anthropological community— and that’s always exciting: bringing voice and opportunity to those who might not otherwise have it. Organizing the webinar series for the past year has been incredible. It started out as a crowd-sourced survey on topics that were underrepresented, but it’s evolved into a small but vibrant community. I get to facilitate discussions with some really amazing people. The project is culminating in a virtual conference to be held at the Annual Meeting in Denver this year, which is pretty awesome.
What is the most rewarding on-the-job moment?
The Annual Meeting itself is definitely the highlight of the year— my mom would laugh at the idea of me organizing anything—there’s no greater rush than seeing a year of planning come together. Watching the flow of the meeting is something truly amazing and organic: folks sitting on the floor finishing their papers, students meeting their anthropology-idols, and listening to the excitement of presenters. Take a moment to breath it all in. The positive and negative feedback we get, it all goes into making the meeting better next year, which is a reward in itself.
What is the most bizarre object in your office?
I used to make origami for my desk, but I think my crane flew away. That was pretty bizarre.
What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Lately I’ve been getting into DIY, finding ways to become more self-reliant and reduce my carbon footprint. I make my own soap, build odds and ends things around the house, and I’ve been trying to garden. I’ve also brewed a few things that don’t taste terrible. It’s been fun to research pre-industrial techniques and read about the culture they promoted.