by Helge Seetzen

The Society for Information Display is an international network of thousands of display professionals spanning a variety of industrial and academic fields. SID organizes dozens of conferences, ranging from huge events like Display Week to small regional seminars focused on specific topics. We distribute a wide range of publications, run a training school, offer educational programs, and so much more. And all this is run by volunteers! With help from our small but dedicated office staff, our volunteers organize the events, review thousands of papers, and guide the overall direction of our society.

You Can Join this Group!

Our society needs dedicated volunteers who will do their part to make the next 50 years of SID as strong as the past 50. In the following, I will outline how SID operates and how volunteers can contribute at every level while experiencing great personal benefit through networking and technical advancement. I hope this will entice some of you to give just a bit more to our society.

At the highest level, SID is organized into three interconnected groups: local chapters, conference program committees, and the executive organization. I will dig into each group, explain the structure, and highlight opportunities for volunteers.

Chapter Organization

Our 28 (and growing) chapters are the foundation on which the society is built. Chapters are established in local regions to serve the SID membership of that region. Some chapters are almost as old as the society itself. The Los Angeles chapter can even trace its roots to the founding of SID at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1962. Others, such as the Bangalore chapter in India, are much newer and are supporting the expansion of our society into emerging regions.

Regardless of history, chapters share a consistent structure. Each chapter is led by a small group of elected officers including the chapter chair, treasurer, and secretary. Many chapters also maintain several non-elected roles such as events managers and web coordinators. This leadership team works to provide a variety of membership services to local constituents. For example, most chapters arrange recurrent meetings, which often include speakers and sometimes even take the form of small conferences (see this issue’s SID News about the LA chapter’s 15th annual one-day conference in February 2019). Many of these events are also broadcast online as webinars. Other events might include recap sessions of the major SID conferences, local entertainment, or activities at universities in the region.

Our chapters are constantly looking for new volunteers to get involved in the community and help with the organization of events. Volunteering at the chapter level is by far the easiest entry point into the leadership of SID, because the volunteer activities are generally local to your area and contained in scope. Volunteering at the chapter level is also a great opportunity for those new to the display industry, because most of the activities rely on organizational skills rather than deep technical experience. Whether expanding their local network or gaining technical insights, local chapter volunteers will benefit greatly from involvement in a community of peers. I would encourage all of you to check out the website of your local chapter and see how you can get involved.

Conference Program Committees

If the chapters are the foundation of our society, then our conferences are the walls that define it. Within the SID umbrella exist a wide range of conferences including Display Week, EuroDisplay, LatinDisplay, International Display Workshops in Japan, IMID, IDCT, and many more. Collectively, these events attract tens of thousands of attendees who will listen to thousands of paper presentations. These activities define the scope of SID as the ultimate place to learn about all aspects of display technology, as well as its specialized applications supported by conferences such as the SID Vehicle Display Conference in Detroit.

All of these conferences are organized by volunteers. In general, each conference has a program committee led by a program chair and a general chair. The program committee varies in size, depending on the scope of the conference. Large conferences such as Display Week have over 200 program committee members who are split into various topical subcommittees (e.g. LCD, OLED, Display Electronics, etc.). The program committee solicits invited speakers, evangelizes the event, and – most importantly – reviews submitted manuscripts to select the best for presentation and publication. All of this is coordinated by the program chair, who is generally selected from among the more active members of the program committee. Finally, the general chair of the conference has broader responsibilities beyond the technical program, including keynote speaker selection, event marketing, and so forth.

Volunteer opportunities for program committees are limited to technical domain experts in the areas covered by that conference. Most volunteers are active researchers in the field. As a result, our program committees tend to be relatively static; volunteers often serve for many years in their area of specialty. Still, opportunities do open up, especially if a conference expands into a newly emerging field such as AR/VR, which would require new subcommittees to be formed. If you are interested in volunteering for a program committee and have the requisite technical expertise, I encourage you to contact the program chair of the relevant conference and offer your services. If you don’t know which conference might be the best fit for you, then review for possible opportunities.

Executive Organization

Sitting on top of our chapter and program organizations is the executive team of the society. This group coordinates SID’s global operations, manages our financial affairs, and sets our long-term strategic direction. Unlike many international organizations, the executive team of the society is entirely composed of dedicated volunteers – globally elected officers, regional representatives, and appointed leaders.

For regional representation, our chapters are grouped into regions representing approximately equal sections of our membership. There are currently seven regions, with three in the Americas (East/Central, Pacific/Latin, Bay Area), three in Asia (Japan, Cross Strait, Rest of Asia), and one covering Europe. Each region elects a regional vice president who acts as its representative on the executive board of the society. Regional vice presidents support the chapters in their region, govern financial decisions, and promote corporate member engagement in their region.

In addition to the seven regional vice presidents, SID’s 12-member executive board consists of five executive officers: secretary, treasurer, president-elect, president, and past president. The first three officers are elected by the global membership and serve two-year terms (same as regional vice presidents). Once elected to president-elect, individuals will automatically advance to a two-year term as president, and finally to past president. This succession provides continuity in the governance mechanisms of the society, which is critical in an all-volunteer organization.

Beyond the 12-member executive board, the president of SID appoints a number of functional chairs to take charge of key operational areas. These are usually seasoned volunteers – often past officers or regional vice presidents – who have deep knowledge of the inner workings of the society. The major functional chairs are convention (accountable for all conferences and acting in liaison with the various program committees), publications (coordinates all our publication activities such as the Journal of SID), marketing (global brand marketing and web/social media outreach), and membership (accountable for membership services and growth). The major chairs are generally supported by vice chairs for specific aspects of their functional area. For example, the publications chair appoints three vice chairs who serve as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of SID, the editor of Information Display magazine, and the coordinator of the SID-Wiley Book Series.

Despite the electoral nature of the executive board, there are many volunteer opportunities in the executive organization, especially at the level of vice chairs supporting the major chairs. Often, volunteers get involved in those roles and are then selected for broader responsibilities with more senior roles once they have demonstrated their abilities. After successful service in one of the senior non-elected roles, they will then have a broad enough profile to stand for general election to the top echelon of the society. Similar to opportunities at the chapter level, these roles are primarily operational, so even individuals early in their career can leave a mark.

As you can see, there are opportunities to contribute in all three major areas of SID. My personal journey through the society has touched on many of these roles, and each has brought me great satisfaction. I had the privilege of serving on the Display Week program committee, rising to program chair and then to general chair. In parallel, I have served in appointed executive roles such as publications chair and ultimately the entire gamut of elected officer roles (except past president, which will come in a couple of years!). Over 15 years of service to the society in those roles, I have benefited tremendously from networking opportunities, technical perspectives, leadership development, and visibility into the many specialized areas that our industry has to offer.

Most importantly, I have met many long-term friends and collaborators extending far beyond SID into my professional and personal path. Service in a community of peers, at the level of excellence found in SID, has been a boon for me, and I hope that many of you will take up this challenge. Since the start of my presidential term in May 2018, I have had the pleasure of welcoming many new contributors – including a record number of women and younger society members – into volunteer leadership roles. I welcome your questions and comments (see contact information below) and I am committed to personally finding great opportunities within our society for every person who contacts me. Talk to you soon!

Helge Seetzen is president of the Society for Information Display. He can be reached at •