September/October 2015 Issue • Volume 43 • Issue 6

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Executive Officer Hillsman to Retire in May 2016

ASA Executive Officer Sally Hillsman

Sally T. Hillsman has announced that she will retire from her position as Executive Officer of the American Sociological Association in May 2016. Since becoming the Executive Officer in 2002, she has overseen all the activities of the Executive Office, with special attention to public affairs, scientific publishing, and social science funding. She has championed the establishment of section-sponsored journals, including Sociology of Race and Ethnicity and Society and Mental Health, as well as Contexts and the new open-access journal, Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World. Even with limited resources, she has slowly but steadily moved the ASA into the digital world, including establishing TRAILS, the ASA Job Bank, and an Annual Meeting mobile app. She has successfully raised the visibility and presence of sociology in the public eye from a booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival to congressional briefings on Capitol Hill and increased press coverage of sociological research. In addition to developing a successful Leadership Campaign to raise money to support the Minority Fellowship Program, she has worked to expand funding for sociology at the National Science Foundation, other federal agencies, and private foundations. She has also played a leadership role on research, education, and science policy issues, especially professional ethics and the protection of human subjects. As ASA representative, Hillsman has served on the Board of Directors of the Consortium of Social Science Associations and of the National Humanities Alliance. In recognition of her distinguished work on behalf of the advancement of social, economic, and political sciences, Hillsman was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011. Previously, she was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in recognition of her work on reform of the courts and the criminal justice system.

Arne Kalleberg indicated that a huge bonus in serving as both Secretary and President of the American Sociological Association “was getting to know and work with Sally Hillsman. Indeed, I have long regarded hiring Sally as ASA Executive Officer as the main accomplishment of my term as Secretary! Her contributions to the ASA are numerous. Continuing to build, nurture and motivate the excellent ASA staff; representing the ASA to policymakers and other professional associations, and to sociologists in the United States and around the world; shepherding the move of the ASA to its new headquarters in Washington, DC; overseeing the strengthening of ASA’s financial position; and positioning the ASA to take advantage of developments in information technology, publishing, and scientific ethics, are a few of the many the topics in which she is knowledgeable. She has done all these things with gentle prodding and suggestions, but also with a firm and guiding hand. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the many meetings and dinners we have had together, learning from her about the workings of the profession, life in general, and the exotic places in the world to which she has travelled (and I’m sure will continue to visit in her retirement from ASA). I am confident that the ASA will find an able and capable person to succeed her as the Executive Officer, but I have great difficulty seeing how she can be replaced.”

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey pointed out that during his four years as Secretary-Elect/Secretary, Hillman’s accomplishments included the purchase of new space for the Executive Office, switching from self-publishing the ASA journals to partnering with SAGE Publications, and leading the organization safely through the belt-tightening necessary to survive the Great Recession. Tomaskovic-Devey concluded that “during all of these large, and many, many smaller challenges Sally Hillsman was calm, organized, and always took a long-term perspective on the health of sociology, the ASA, and its membership. She also, always got things done.”

One of Hillman’s accomplishments has been to make the ASA’s finances and operations more transparent to the membership through the publication of an annual report. Indeed, Evelyn Nakano Glenn observed that, ”Sally is the rare executive who keeps her eyes on the big picture while simultaneously keeping track of the smallest details. Deeply committed to democratic decision-making and transparent governance, Sally has been an ideal executive officer during a period of growing diversity and complexity in ASA operations. During my term as President, she provided sage advice and marshaled indispensable support to mount a highly successful annual meeting. I am in awe of her energy and dedication and am extremely grateful that she was executive officer not only for my presidential term, but for the many other years I served on Council. When an updated history of ASA is written, the ‘Sally Hillsman years’ will stand out as a period of tremendous benefit to the entire field of sociology.”

This benefit goes beyond the national reach of the discipline. “Sally Hillsman has played an invaluable leadership role in building stronger ties between ASA and ISA,” said Margaret Abraham, International Sociological Association President  “Both ASA and ISA have benefited from her organizational expertise and her understanding of the critical need for American sociologists to be part of a global community of scholars as well as bringing international scholars into the association.”

Troy Duster captured the sentiments of many of the elected leaders of the ASA who had the privilege of working with Hillsman when he wrote, “Sally’s leadership of the Association quietly achieved the right balance between steering a strong and supportive staff while managing to be flexible and responsive to the membership. That outcome is as artful as it is difficult. I am happy to have this occasion to express my appreciation for all that she has done over these many years of service.”

Michael Burawoy noted, “for over a decade Sally has taken the ASA on an ever upward trajectory. She has always been ready to explore new avenues, new directions, caring for her staff, welcoming newcomers, humoring presidents, doing what’s best for sociology. I’m very sad to see her leave.” Randall Collins characterized Sally Hillsman as “one of the great Executive Officers the ASA has had. Upbeat, knowledgeable, effective; she kept everything moving. We will miss her.”

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