The 1996–1998 AGU officers assumed their leadership roles on July 1, following a May 18–19 Leadership Conference attended by council members and committee chairmen. The primary focus for the conference was for attendees to set priorities and goals and exchange information that helps the leadership contribute effectively during their terms. Participants emphasized the strength of the Union in allowing members to work across disciplinary boundaries and the need for cross-disciplinary communication to address the problems facing science today. The leaders also discussed how AGU Sections might provide additional input to Union activities and how the structure of the Sections could achieve better coordination with the work of the Union committees. The goal of this discussion was to provide more opportunities for member participation and to maximize the effectiveness of both Sections and committees. Another primary topic was continuing to increase the effectiveness of AGU's electronic communications—both formal electronic publications and informal communication among the leadership and members.