As the founder and main worker bee at Rhema Association Management, I have always had to push the boundaries of information technology to do more with less. Back in the mid 1990’s it took a team of four full time worker bees to manage all the details of a handful of growing international societies, their annual meetings, journal subscriptions, membership applications and dues renewals. With today’s advances in information technology all that and more can be efficiently & effectively handled through a well featured Virtual Office and someone who knows how to choose and use the best technology for the job at hand. Over the past 25 years I’ve welcomed the technological advances that have helped to streamline Association Management, and adapted to them even as they were in their infancy. If a technology vendor isn’t keeping up, I find a more innovative one to work with. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s innovations will unleash on association management!
Experience Managing a Virtual Society Office
International medical and scientific societies have always had “virtual offices” because the staff could never be in all places where the members, leaders and other stakeholders are located. Today’s advances in information technology have transformed the way international societies communicate, network and disseminate their message. Currently we are managing two international societies, the largest one with the help of a PCO (MCI-Geneva) handling many of the details of the Annual Meeting. As referrals come in for scientific conference management, we are happy to work with colleagues of our existing clients when the fit is right.
Managing Director Experience – Our two full service clients:
Since December 2016 – International Cytokine & Interferon Society (formerly ISICR and ICS), Joan, and her Virtual Office, have replaced the staff at the FASEB campus in Bethesda, MD which had managed the ISICR and then the merged society since 1996. By transitioning to a Virtual Office, the society will save on administrative costs and can focus its resources on promoting the fields of cytokine, interferon, and chemokine biology, and growing as a network to facilitate research communication to ultimately translate discoveries to improve human health. The International Cytokine & Interferon Society, (ICIS) is a non-profit organization of close to 1,000 scientists devoted to research in the fields of cytokine, interferon and chemokine cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry and the clinical use of these biological response modifiers. Bringing together scientists across many different research disciplines, the International Cytokine & Interferon Society is the premier organization promoting the field of cytokine biology, impacting all aspects of medicine, from cancer to autoimmune disease to neural development and function. A common ground where scientists interested in all aspect of cytokine biology can join and work together to better human health. Please visit the website we recently designed for more information: www.cytokinesociety.org
Since December 2017 – International Society for Developmental Psychobiology (ISDP), Joan Oefner has been appointed the Managing Director and has transitioned the society from their previous management company in Texas to her Virtual Office in New Jersey, USA and Regensburg, Germany. Please visit the website we recently designed for more information: www.isdp.org. The first order of business was to set up a new online association management system using www.x-cd.com for membership, meeting registration, abstract submission, award applications and online programming. The International Society for Developmental Psychobiology (ISDP) is an international non-profit organization which encourages research on the development of behavior in all organisms including man, with special attention to the effects of biological factors operating at any level of organization. The society holds annual meetings to facilitate communication of research results and theory in the area of Developmental Psychobiology. The ISDP strongly supports and encourages young scientists with travel awards, networking and meeting events designed specifically for the students.
9th International Conference on Tularemia – October 16-19, 2018, Centre Mont Royal in Montreal, Canada. This conference is sponsored by the Tularemia International Society, namely to facilitate the assembly, acquaintance, and association of scientists engaged in tularemia research. Tularemia meetings focus on fundamental, clinical, and applied research regarding any aspect of Francisella tularensis. Research uncovers not only the biology of this fascinating bacterium, but also provides the basis for future development of treatments, preventive interventions, and disease diagnosis. We continue to work with Tularemia International Society on Society Management issues such as membership management, using the www.x-cd.com.
22nd International Workshop on Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) and Related Agents -June 30 – July 3, 2019, New York Marriott East Side, New York City, USA. Saposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), is the infectious cause of Kaposi sarcoma and at least two lymphoproliferative disorders: primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman’s disease. The 22nd International Workshop on Kaposi’s Sarcoma Herpesvirus & Related Agents will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the discovery of this virus in the city where it happened, New York.
8th International Congress on Cancer Metastasis – October 25-27, 2019, Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, San Francisco, USA. It is the goal of this biennial CME congress to bring together basic scientists, oncologists, surgeons, and radiologists from around the world, resulting in a cross-fertilization of ideas that will enhance the translation of basic science into clinical application—and challenge basic scientists with clinical issues. The Congress is sponsored by the Sentinel Node Oncology Foundation, a 501( c )( 3 ) founded in 2003. Joan Oefner is the Executive Administrator of the Foundation and Congress Manager.
List of Past Clients before moving to Germany in 2005:
Society for Molecular Imaging, (2002 – 2006) Served as the founding Executive Director as the society’s membership grew from 200 – 1,250 full, student & industry members and meeting attendance grew year on year from 650 to 1,250 participants. Organized their annual meetings in San Francisco, St. Louis, Cologne, Germany and the Big Island, Hawaii with each meeting drawing increased attendance, abstract submissions, support from industry and adding to the Society’s financial reserves while becoming the “internationally renowned platform for reporting on the most important advances in molecular imaging” (Christopher Contag, PhD, President of SMI from 2002-2003). Managed the society with a Virtual Office, with both a German and Texas base, until the society began having joint meetings in 2007 with a clinically oriented affiliated society. As of 2011, the two societies merged to become the World Molecular Imaging Society, WMIS.
North American Society for Cardiovascular Imaging (NASCI), (1993-2005) NASCI was founded in 1972 and had never had a professional staff until hiring Joan Oefner as their first Executive Director in 1993 to help achieve the Society’s goal to revitalize the field of Cardiac Imaging. By 2005 the membership grew to 450 members and annual meeting surpassed 550 participants. NASCI went through a few management companies after Joan Oefner resigned and moved to German, but is now managed by the American College of Radiology and doing really well.
CASSS (1996 – 2001) Provided full-service association management and meeting planning for 2-3 international symposia per year as the society’s annual budget grew from $20,000 to over $800,000. The growth of this society, from what was once known as the California Separation Science Society (CaSSS), to their current standing as CASSS, an International Separation Science Society, is what fueled the growth of Rhema Association Management, enabling us to hire three full-time employees, including an experienced meeting planner and a CPA who are still working for the Society, which we transitioned to a freestanding management model in 2001. Since moving to Germany, we have had the pleasure of planning CASSS’s first two European CMC Strategy Forum meetings (Brussels in 2007 & Paris in 2008) as well as the 21st International Ion Chromatography Symposium in Dublin in 2009. They are now holding meetings all over the world in support of their mission to enable a global community of industry, academic and regulatory professionals to work together to resolve scientific challenges in the field of bio-pharmaceutical development and regulation.
San Francisco Neurological Society (2002 – 2005) Provided full-service association management including planning an annual weekend CME conference and 4-5 dinner meetings per year. Set up their website and converted the society’s membership & registration to an online system that is still in use today.
Southwest Chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (1993 – 2000) Provided full-service association management and planning for the annual CME meeting and exhibition, 400-600 participants. The trick with this society was to keep up the industry support and meeting attendance when the society met in unpopular cities within the Chapter, or in a city that was far away from the membership base in Texas. Meetings in Houston, San Antonio, Austin and to a lesser extent, Dallas, were always successful, but every other year the meeting had to be in one of the other cities in the Chapter. We managed to have successful meetings in Albuquerque, New Orleans, and Santa Fe, by negotiating really good rates at excellent venues and emphasizing the unique aspects of those venues in all marketing materials. Our key employee, Charles Metzger, who moved to Texas, is still managing the society which is now the SW Chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.