Guidelines for Program Chairs

The elected program chair (or designated person, if the program proposal has a committee and thus multiple co-chairs) serves a two-year term on the REA Board of Directors (see the role description for year one and year two). The first year you will learn by assisting the current program chair while beginning to plan for your annual conference program.

The elected program chair (or co-chairs committee) reports to the Board which oversees and approves all aspects of the annual meeting: website, schedule, speakers, budget items, special arrangements and events, etc. The program chair(s) will provide periodic reports to keep the Board informed and collect their input.

The location and, to some extent, the schedule are established by the Board. A program chair (or chairs) can manipulate the schedule within certain parameters, the latter being things like start and end times and extra-program events like the Business Meeting, the student meal, board meetings, etc. Those things are worked into the overall program in consultation with the Executive Secretary and Networking Coordinator, who also make catering and audiovisual arrangements.

The program chair(s) work with the Program Committee, which is made up of the Program Chair-elect, Vice-President, Treasurer, Proposal Selection Chair, Networking Coordinator, Justice/Equity/Diversity/Inclusion Officer, and Executive Secretary. A program chair(s) might create their own additional committees, if needed, e.g., Arts & Ritual, Excursions, Special Effects.

Our journal Religious Education publishes two issues related to each annual meeting’s program: a pre-conference forum of some scholars’ thought-provoking essays on your theme, and a post-conference issue for which the chair(s) write an article. The program chair(s) work with Editor Joyce Mercer to provide that material, per her schedule.

The Annual Meeting is a line item in REA’s budget. In 2020, the budget for the program (not including catering, audio-visual, and printing) is $10,000. Outside speakers might be paid $500-$2,000, plus travel, while REA members typically receive free registration. The program chair(s) are encouraged to seek additional outside funding through grants or institutional support which can add significantly to an annual meeting budget.

The program chair(s) work with Tenseg, our website developer, to create a meeting website, including graphics, text, resources, periodic updates, and information about the program. That can start as early as March of the year before the annual meeting which immediately precedes the one being planned. Program chair(s) will also need to provide the Networking Coordinator with text about the meeting for eREACH, REA’s newsletter. The goal here is to announce the CFP at the business meeting of the annual meeting the year prior to the one you are planning.

It is your responsibility to secure speakers and communicate with them about expectations and compensation, subject to approval by the REA Program Committee. Your budget includes travel and lodging expenses for speakers, and the Executive Secretary will work with you to create contract letters outlining procedures for speakers’ payment, travel arrangements, and expense reimbursement.

The Executive Secretary, Networking Coordinator, and journal Editor are always available to answer questions and assist you with your responsibilities to create a successful and memorable meeting. For the REA2023 Meeting, which is the first time we are using this process, you can be coached through your theme proposal as long as you submit a draft by December 1, 2021. The final deadline for theme proposals is January 1, 2022.

The form for submitting a proposal is available online, but please make sure you have gathered all the information you need before you fill it out.

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