Dear WFRN Members,

The Executive Board of the Work and Family Researchers Network has decided that it is in the best interests of its members that the 2020 WFRN Conference be postponed and moved from the New York Hilton Midtown. As you are no doubt aware, there have been staggering losses in New York City (NYC) owing to COVID-19. Travel to and large events in NYC will be inadvisable for some time to come. Even under the most optimistic scenario for June, members do not have sufficient notification to make travel plans. We commit to working with you to develop an alternative conference where we can safely engage with one another to share evidence, ideas, and possibilities.

The Board has been moving to terminate the contract with Hilton Midtown for several weeks, ever since the Mayor of New York City and the Governor of New York issued bans on large events. WFRN’s contract with the New York Hilton Midtown includes a clause that enables termination without penalty when unforeseeable events make it impossible for the terms of the contract to be met. Unfortunately, the New York Hilton Midtown is currently unwilling to acknowledge the impossibility of it hosting the 2020 Conference as contracted. Instead, the Hilton Midtown has invoiced WFRN for a substantial cancellation fee that could potentially deplete WFRN financial resources. We are disputing this invoice and have secured legal guidance to do so.

Given the dire daily news out of NYC, we anticipate that sometime in advance of the start date of the planned conference (June 24, 2020), the New York Hilton Midtown will concede that the conference cannot be held and will withdraw its cancellation fee. There is no guarantee this will occur, however. We ask for your patience in seeking refunds, as the WFRN is not in a position to return funds until this issue is resolved. Moreover, the Board fully expects to hold a conference in an alternative form or venue, which will affect refund logistics.

In light of the global tragedy that is the COVID-19 pandemic, re-envisioning the 2020 WFRN Conference is a comparatively minor challenge. Nonetheless, the Board is saddened by the cancellation of the New York City event, which was nearly fully planned when the pandemic emerged. A tremendous amount of effort was put into the event by the Executive Board, WFRN Administrative Office, Program Committee, International Committee, Membership Committee, Awards Committees, student volunteers, and by members who submitted their scholarship for presentation. The Board is determined not to let this effort go to waste. The research WFRN members conduct has never been more important to the wellbeing of workers, families, businesses, and nations. So while this message brings news of regrets, anticipate future correspondence that outlines innovative forums for exchanging knowledge across disciplinary and national boundaries as we forge a new future in what we all hope is a post COVID-19 world.

Sincerely,

Susan Lambert, President