The 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) held in Providence this past June marked one of the more important transitions that can occur in the life of a professional association: the succession of one executive director by another. After 22 years of service as executive director of AAIDD—and the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR) before that—Doreen Croser stepped down as administrative leader of the association. Board members set policies and approve budgets for a professional association, and members make contributions by serving as journal editors and reviewers, authors of articles and monographs, presenters of conference papers, and participants on standing and ad hoc committees. Yet, it takes an efficient and competent executive director and central office staff to make an association thrive. Ironically, members of an association usually only pay attention to an association's executive director and staff when things seem to be going wrong. When things are going smoothly, others—Board members, editors, authors, presenters—are likely to get all or most of the credit. It is fitting, therefore, that this issue of the journal contains testimonials to Doreen Croser by past-presidents of the association on her many accomplishments and contributions (see pages 290–296).
Doreen was executive director of AAMR when I was first appointed editor of this journal. Although I was appointed by the Board and had frequent contacts with Board members, I worked most closely with Doreen and central office staff on the journal. In all of the years of my editorship, Doreen never tried to influence my editorial decisions, even when I published articles, and especially “Perspectives” commentaries, that ran counter to the association's position statements, and even my own opinion and philosophy. Furthermore, this seems to be a field in which researchers draw battle lines over theory and methodology: qualitative versus quantitative, behaviorism versus humanism, positivism versus postmodernism, medical model versus social model of disability, and so on. Theorists and methodologists usually choose sides in these debates—and appropriately so, but editors of a journal in an interdisciplinary and intellectual diverse association should not. Doreen never expressed a preference for what should be published in the journal or communicated that I should favor one brand of theory and methodology over another. At the same time, when I saw the need for the association to take a position on issues such as data-sharing for articles published in its journals, Doreen was always there to listen to my perspective and to work with the Board to put policies into place.
One mark of an effective administrator is to recruit competent and committed staff to implement an association's mission. Doreen always devoted the resources necessary to support the journal and assembled an outstanding team of editorial and publication staff. These staff members continue to make my own job easier.
The recognition of Doreen Croser contained in this issue of the journal is well deserved, and the words of praise are heartfelt and sincere.
—S. J. T.