Johanna Raffan
  • Johanna Raffan

I joined ECHA in 1991 and was privileged to be elected to the General Committee in 1994 when the conference was in Nijmegen - my fondest memory of that conference was racing Francoys Gagne to the Dessert Table at the Conference Dinner  - he won!  In 1998 I joined the Executive.  I was then re-elected in 2004 and took on the role of Secretary until September 2012.  I had many happy times during my close involvement with ECHA - the music at the Vienna Conference, the organisation of the Oxford Conference, the heat in Debrecen,  moving the venue of the 2002 Conference to Rhodes.  Vineyards in the dark in Pamplona, The stunning venue of the conference dinner in Lahti and the elegance of Prague.  More hot weather in Paris and the great numbers in Munster.

During my time on the General Committee we have seen High Ability Studies included in Social Sciences Citation Index, the only journal in the field of Gifted Education to be included.  A Council of Europe Conference, in Nijmegen, to share good practice.  A EU Conference, in Brussels, to share policy and practice.  The growth of the ECHA Diploma both in the types of Diplomas, the number of countries and the very large number of students.  The ongoing development of the ECHA News from a broad sheet to on-line.  Many amazing delegates at our conference all with the same goal "to improve provision for Gifted Pupils".

When I was  first elected to the General Committee I was asked what my hopes were -  I said that if ECHA was really successful then we should work ourselves out of existence,  if all the countries in Europe were prepared to undertake research and to improve the provision for Gifted Pupils we would not need to exist.  I fear we are still a very long way from that goal, but the message is spreading and some excellent work is being done in many countries.  I also said that I would like to improve my knowledge of the various wines made around Europe, I have been more successful in this desire.  I thank all those who have invited me to their countries over the last twenty years and I will watch with great interest how you go from strength to strength.

Thank you all for allowing me to serve you and the field of Gifted Education!