A Strategic Plan to Guide the IECA

Samantha Senda-Cook's picture

Over the course of the last year, a sub-committee of the IECA board has been working on a Strategic Plan. Many thanks to the committee members who volunteered their time to develop the IECA’s first strategic plan: Eric Morgan, Tadesse Sahilu, Leonor Solis, Clive Tesar, Anke Wonneberger, Mark Meisner, and Samantha Senda-Cook. As you’ll read in the plan itself: “By drafting a strategic plan, the leadership of the IECA hoped to codify guiding principles that have been a mainstay of our organization since the beginning. Additionally, we wanted to emphasize some goals as higher priorities. For example, goal three encourages us to increase diversity, which reflects broader global calls for justice. Making these goals explicit not only positions our organization as part of a concerted effort toward doing good in the world, it also offers a road map for the IECA. We treated this as an opportunity for reflection about the first 10 years of our organization as well as a statement about our shared hope for our future.” 


The goals of the strategic plan are: 1) create new and strengthen existing connections among practitioners, artists, and academics; 2) enable action geared toward positive environmental policies and changes; and 3) foster diversity and inclusion (specifically in terms of geography, socio-economics, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, discipline, and career trajectory) within environmental communication. These goals at once build on and expand the IECA’s core identity. For each goal, we developed smaller objectives and actions as well as a timeline for implementation. We also identified Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are external to our own efforts but that we can use to determine if we’re on track to meet a goal. 


Over the summer, many organizations were releasing statements to affirm and support racial justice. We did not release a statement at that time for two reasons: 1) we wanted to demonstrate concrete actions and 2) we did not want to (re)center the places where protests were happening over other places in the world. Since we knew that we had a diversity and inclusion goal in our strategic plan, we wanted to position this plan as part of our response. Furthermore, we wanted to follow-up this plan with actions such as forming a diversity sub-committee to determine the best ways for our organization to identify and meet our objectives under this goal. 


Since this is the organization’s first strategic plan, we assume that it is a living document, one that will be revisited and revised as new people lead this organization. As you read the plan, you may feel (as many of us did) that implementing this plan will be a lot of work. Please get in touch if you would like to volunteer for any part of this. We’ll be sending out calls for volunteers in the future, too. We look forward to hearing from you!


About the Author: 

Samantha Senda-Cook (PhD, University of Utah) is the Board Chair of the International Environmental Communication Association, an Associate Professor and Assistant Chair in the Department of Communication Studies and an affiliated faculty member with the Environmental Science and Sustainability programs at Creighton University. She studies rhetorical theory and analyzes environmental communication and materiality in the contexts of social movements, outdoor recreation, and urban spaces/places. She was recently awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Japan in 2019. She and her co-editors—Bridie McGreavy, Justine Wells, George F. McHendry, Jr.—were recognized with the Tarla Rai Peterson Distinguished Book Award for their volume, Tracing Rhetoric and Material Life: Ecological Approaches in 2018. Her co-authored book Participatory Critical Rhetoric: Theoretical and Methodological Foundations for Studying Rhetoric In Situ, won the Outstanding Book of the Year in 2016 award from the National Communication Association’s Critical and Cultural Studies Division. Additionally, she was invited to be a plenary speaker at the 15th Biennial Public Address Conference in 2016. Her work has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Environmental Communication, International Journal of Wilderness, Southern Journal of Communication, and Argumentation and Advocacy. Along with Michael Middleton and Danielle Endres, her co-authored article, “Articulating Rhetorical Field Methods: Challenges and Tensions,” won the B. Aubrey Fisher Award for best article published in the Western Journal of Communication in 2011. Because she is interested in making this scholarship relevant to community members, she has given public presentations at a monthly open meeting of the Gifford Park Neighborhood Association and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and has spoken about her experience in Japan on a local radio show. She teaches courses in rhetoric, environmental communication, intercultural communication, and communication practices. Additionally, she seeks out opportunities to mentor undergraduate student researchers, several of which have presented at conferences and published their work. Valuing community service and engagement, she volunteers with the Community Bike Project Omaha, which is dedicated to creating equitable social conditions for everyone. When she is not researching, teaching, or volunteering, she can usually be found reading a mystery novel, trying out a new recipe, or riding the hills of Omaha on her bike.