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ECA Listening Session Summary

Dear ECA Community:

On March 15th and 16th ECA members met to share their perspectives on ECA’s response to the crisis in Ukraine.  Our goal was to determine a set of action steps that would create opportunities for our members to learn, discuss, share resources, and contribute to the ongoing efforts to support Ukraine.  This document summarizes the key discussion points and recommended next steps.  Please review our progress so far and send any additional ideas to ECA President Amanda McKendree (, ECA Immediate Past President Katherine Thweatt (, or ECA Executive Director Stacy Smulowitz (  We look forward to hearing from you. 

Five Central Questions for our Association to Consider

  • First, given the purpose of ECA as specified in our constitution, do our members have a desire for ECA to issue statements?
  • What do our bylaws permit or forbid when issuing public statements?
  • Does ECA, as an organization with expertise in communication, with a commitment to free expression, have the right to make a statement?
  • Does ECA have an obligation to issue a statement?
  • Could ECA be at financial risk by issuing statements?

Key Issues for our Association to Consider

  • The current process for issuing statements is not conducive for time-sensitive concerns and is currently not agreed upon by ECA membership.
  • Actions speak louder than words. ECA could coordinate action by proposing initiatives and developing partnerships with other organizations and institutions to support Ukraine. 
  • The National Communication Association (NCA) relies on their credos (Free and Responsible Communication in a Democratic Society; Ethical Communication) for communicating their commitment to taking a stand. ECA does not currently have a statement to rely on when committing to taking a stand.

Next Steps

  • Questioning our Role: We are adding a New Business agenda item to the Executive Council Meeting for further discussion on the following issues:
    • Before addressing the logistics of issuing statements, we’ll need to discuss whether our membership has a desire for the association to issue statements.

If we proceed, then discuss the following questions:

  • What is the appropriate mechanism for addressing issues in a timely fashion?
  • How can we ensure consistency in how and when we issue statements?
  • What is our theoretical basis and operational basis for addressing future crises?
  • Who is responsible for making the statement (a specific officer or an officer on behalf of the Executive Board or Executive Council)?
  • What is the role of the interest group? Should interest groups issue their own statements and position papers?
  • Should we appoint or elect a committee that would research and issue timely statements?
  • Should we create an ECA association secretary position who could assist the Executive Director with key tasks (preparing minutes, keeping track of votes) and coordinate efforts to draft statements?
  • Supporting Member Action: We are already exploring opportunities in the Philadelphia area and have identified two resources that may allow our members to participate in supporting Ukraine in two ways:
    • Ukrainian American Citizens’ Association: Potentially volunteering during the conference.
    • Contributing needed items according to a list issued by the Ukrainian Embassy.
  • Creating Spaces: During ECA 2022, adding face-to-face panels, roundtables, or other special events that would represent various perspectives on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
    • United Ukrainian Relief Committee; Ukrainian American Citizens’ Association; St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral; Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral
  • Accessing our Expertise: Reach out to interest groups and affiliate groups to contribute to these special sessions.
  • Catharsis: Create a multi-media living artifact featuring ECA members’ messages and perspectives on the war in Ukraine. This multi-media art would be displayed at ECA 2022.

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