The Fates are inexorable, but occasionally they are benevolent indeed. In 1998 the APA, now the SCS, was searching for its second, full time executive director and hoped to find a person who not only was experienced and adept at running a large non-profit, but who also had a Classics background. The Fates presented us with Adam Blistein.
Adam was awarded his PhD from Yale in 1980. Due to a number of factors, not the least of which was a horrible job market, he entered the world of administration for non-profit organizations, rising to the prestigious position of Director of Administration for the American Association for Cancer Research.
Adam thus brought badly needed professional skills to the SCS, but he also brought along a fervent belief in cooperation in our field. Since the day he arrived, Adam has worked to bring down historical barriers that had largely kept the APA aloof from groups like CAMWS and ACL.
Ask Adam what he does and he will say that he is only an "enabler" and that others do the real heavy lifting. Those who have worked with him in his many endeavors know that this is modesty talking. It is fair to state that, without doubt, the following initiatives never would have come to fruition without his “enabling” them.
Adam moved APA pedagogical sessions to Saturdays and Sundays to make it easier for pre-collegiate teachers to attend and encouraged granting standing panel status to Eta Sigma Phi so that it could offer panels at every SCS meeting. He has been tireless in bringing an information table to meetings of regional organizations (CAMWS, CAAS, CANE, etc.) and ACL to forge alliances nationwide. He “enabled” the rewriting of Careers for Classicists and Standards for Latin Teacher Preparation. He helped found the APA Pedagogy Prize.
Most recently he helped organize the APA's "Gatekeeper to Gateway Campaign," which raised over $2,600,000. Its goals specifically included outreach and support programs for pre-collegiate Latin and Greek teachers, an unheard of thing not so long ago.
There is more to list than there is space for. But the picture is clear. In 1999 the Fates wove their tapestry to present us with a man who would change the landscape of Classics. He could have stayed at his previous position and flourished. Or, once in place at APA, he could simply have administered the day to day activities of the APA/SCS. Instead, he set about to make the entire field of Classics better. Such service to the field, outside the usual academic setting, is exactly what CAMWS envisioned when it created this award. His vision of a field united across all levels has profoundly changed the landscape for Classics in America. We are in his debt.