Roberta Retrospective: 
A Contribution by Jac Vennix

August 2018 

Dear Roberta,

I first got to know you at the 1999 conference in Bergen. I was then president-elect and, as expected, we got to talk about my presidency in the year 2000. Without downplaying the work and efforts that Jack and July Pugh put into the management of the society, it became quickly clear to me what you had already done and were doing to make the management of the society much more professional than it used to be in the past. I vividly remember my own experiences when organizing the Utrecht conference in 1992. We literally had to reinvent the wheel ourselves (well several wheels actually), no systematic building on experiences of past conference organizers. Although it was interesting and great fun at times, it was basically also a bit of a waste of time. Over time that process became much more standardized, due to your efforts. I experienced that first hand when being involved in the organization of the 2006 Nijmegen conference. There was a complete ‘checklist’ of things to think about and to do (including making a balanced budget!). Very helpful and making the job a lot more simple, although still quite some work, organizing a SD conference.

Working with you was easy, effective and enjoyable. But it was more. As the presidency required me to chair the winter policy council meeting, you were so hospitable and invited me to stay at your lovely house, for which I was very grateful. We had several talks then and these talks not only continued at that year’s conference, but basically at every conference since then. They covered a variety of topics ranging from things you experienced in your work to family matters. It was always interesting to exchange thoughts with you and it gave our cooperation also a kind of a personal touch.

Although in your work you were very professional, you did not like the idea of virtual networks so much, something almost everyone does nowadays. I remember that I tried to talk you into setting up a LinkedIn account and connect with me. I never figured out why, but you seemed to be very hesitant. Still you did try it out, although not under your own name. As a result my list of connections, now contains this link with a Dagny Taggart, VP of operations in the greater Boston area, who happens to have only one lonesome LinkedIn connection…..

Now that you step down as the Executive Director of the System Dynamics Society I would like to thank you as a former official of the society for all the hard work you have done for the society. I am also grateful for all the support I got from you when being president of the society. But I would also like to thank you personally for the many informal talks we had. I have gotten to know you as a person with a very warm character, a person caring about her work , but also about other people up to the point of worrying maybe a bit too much about things and people. This was especially visible during the 2006 conference, when I first discovered your anxiety when having to appear in front of a large audience. Why worry, you did perfectly fine!

And now you will enter a new phase in your life. Although you will still be working part-time, that means that you will also be free halftime. That will give you more time to spend with your family, something that you really want to do. Loes and I wish you all the best for the years ahead and I sure hope to run into you at one or more of the coming conferences of the Society. 

Nijmegen, August 2018

Jac Vennix

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