Keystone Symposia 50th Anniversary Website



Historical Perspective –  Keystone Symposia Governance 1972-2020 

What is now the Keystone Symposia in Cellular and Molecular Biology began as a single meeting on membrane biology in the spring of 1972.  It was organized by C. Fred Fox of UCLA and attracted over 200 participants to the Olympic Village at Squaw Valley, CA. In the following year, two meetings were held and from that point forward the UCLA Symposia underwent steady expansion, aided by the financial support of the ICN corporation. 

In 1981, the program had grown to about a half dozen conferences, and Fox formed an advisory board composed of 8 individuals, equally divided between academia and industry, which reflected the expansion of private sector support. By 1990 the advisory board had reached about two dozen members and became increasingly involved in oversight, functioning in part as a governing body. 

Leaving the Nest– Moving from UCLA to Keystone, Colorado

By the late 1980’s, the UCLA Symposia had been forced to move its offices off the UCLA campus and the relationship of the Symposia and the university administration rapidly deteriorated thereafter. In the spring of 1990, the university attempted to seize control of the Symposia and its assets and the advisory board was forced to step in to assert control. Subsequently the Board, now acting as the governing body, met at the Keystone Resort in Colorado, at the invitation of Bob Craig of the Keystone Center, to discuss plans for going forward with representatives of UCLA. After evaluating the university’s proposal, the Board voted to terminate the symposia’s ties with UCLA and accept Craig’s offer to transfer its operations to the Keystone Center, a non-profit entity. Functioning as part of the Keystone Center, eight members of the advisory board (plus Fox) were appointed to an Executive Committee to oversee the operations of the newly named Keystone Symposia. Fox was appointed as Interim Director and served on the Executive Committee for another two years. 

Gaining Independence as a Non-Profit Organization

Following several years of operations as part of the Keystone Center, Keystone Symposia initiated plans to leave the Center and was set up as an independent non-profit organization in 1997. A new Board of Directors was appointed, comprised of eight people initially with a President (Chair), Secretary (Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee) and Treasurer. 

Over the next 20+ years, the Board doubled in size and in 2004, hired James Aiken as the first CEO. After Fox retired in 1992, the position of Director was variously occupied until it was converted to Chief Scientific Officer in 2008. Both positions now have seats on the Board; the present CEO and CSO are Debbie Johnson and Thale Jarvis, respectively.

Over the nearly 50-year lifetime of the Symposia, nearly one hundred individuals have served on one or more of the three governance groups: UCLA Advisory Committee, the Keystone Center-based Executive /Management committees and the Keystone Symposia Board of Directors.

We thank every one of them for their contributions to make Keystone Symposia what it is today.

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