The annual meeting is the highlight of the year for the ACR. It is when our representative body, the Council, gets together to determine ACR policy. Since 2003, the meeting has been held in Washington, D.C., so the College could mobilize hundreds of members to bring its legislative priorities for discussion to Capitol Hill.
COVID-19 forced the CSC to find a way to conduct the business of the Council in the face of restrictions on travel and large gatherings. While difficult, we unanimously decided to move forward and conduct a virtual meeting. Nobody underestimated the enormity of this undertaking. The logistics and IT challenges of inventing, implementing, and conducting a new kind of Council meeting were daunting. Nonetheless, we came together to conduct not only a functional, but evolutionary event. Approximately 750 members and guests logged on from Saturday, May 16, through Tuesday, May 19, to participate in the ACR’s first 100% online annual meeting.
What was truly remarkable was the learning cycle of the event. As anticipated, there were unforeseen technical glitches at the beginning of the meeting — but the issues were quickly corrected and the meeting presenters were undeterred. The online format allowed us to transfer certain particulars of the meeting to asynchronous alternatives. Reports that are usually limited by time constraints in our traditional format were made available as recordings on demand to be viewed at the convenience of our members. The Convocation was creatively celebrated by Debra L. Monticciolo, MD, FACR, and ACR staff. Unfortunately, some of the presentations, award ceremonies, and other highlights — such as the Moreton lecture, chapter awards, Global Humanitarian awards, and Economics Forum — had to be deferred so we could concentrate on the business of the meeting.Global Humanitarian and chapter award recipients will be honored on stage at ACR 2021.
The virtual nature of the meeting was certainly new and innovative. We proved that the meeting could still include meaningful participation and engagement without a physical venue. As we explore options for future meetings, we plan to preserve important features of the in-person meeting, such as the socialization and networking components. Importantly, having members directly delivering our talking points to their representatives on Capitol Hill has been an important component of our advocacy efforts. Going forward, the annual meeting may be a combination of the best facets of both live and online formats.
We are grateful to our ACR governance staff team and IT staff, as well as staff from across the organization who came together, often on a daily basis, to ensure the success of our meeting. We are also grateful to our councilors, alternate councilors, chapter leaders, and attendees for their patience and enthusiastic participation in making this meeting a success.
As we move forward, we will build upon the foundation that this is the Council meeting. ACR is, and will always be, a membership-driven organization. At the end of the day, we can all celebrate the fact that even in the face of a global pandemic, we came together as the ACR.