Looking Back…as a director on the SLA Board

Saying goodbye to anything you’ve done that long is hard. – Angela Ruggiero

In January 2011, I (Jill Hurst-Wahl)  joined the SLA Board of Directors after being elected by you. I joined already knowing much of what the Board was discussing, because I had been keeping my eyes and ear open, and because as a Board candidate I had been able to listen to the Board meetings for several months. I knew that I was joining a Board that had work to do!

Brent Mai, SLA2012During my first year on the Board (2011), my biggest challenge was learning how things really operate in the Association. No matter how much you know about a group, how it really works may not be known. What is the delineation of duties between the Board and the staff? Who sets policy and who implements those policies? I learned that “who” depends a bit on the “what”, and that the most important point is that the Board and staff agree.

In 2011 and 2012, Cindy Romaine and Brent Mai had the Board develop a strategic agenda for the Association, and many you have been working with us on it. That agenda ends in 2014, and clearly our efforts in those areas will need to continue. If we stop strategizing, if we stop trying to improve, then we will no longer be. (That is a good motto for us as individuals as well as us as an association.)

Jill Hurst-Wahl & Mike WalshNow in 2013, I’m in my third year as director and the work has not slowed down. In each year, some things have been constants. There have been long and productive face-to-face meetings at Leadership Summit and the Annual Conference, as well as meetings held by conference call during the other months. You may be surprised at the amount of work that can occur during the 1-1.5 hour calls. (Agenda? Check. Robert’s Rules? Check. Prework? Check.) Each year, we become liaisons to various units, we proctor division board meetings, and we talk to a lot of members. We hear your questions, concerns, joys, and desires. What we hear informs our meetings and our decisions. You may be surprised that SLA members talk to us about SLA business while we’re attending non-SLA events, so we are always “on the clock”, always working.

Joint Cabinet MeetingAt the Annual Conference, every member of the Board talks with exhibitors in the INFO-EXPO to get feedback on the event and to thank them for their participation. Those conversations help us understand aspects of how the conference is going, that may not be obvious, and have given me an opportunity to talk to companies that I might not have otherwise. The downside is that there are other companies that I would like to visit in the INFO-EXPO and can’t find the time to do it. I’m looking forward to Vancouver, when the time I spend in the INFO-EXPO will be my own!

Fountain at Pat O'Briens Courtyard RestaurantWhen I ran for the Board in 2010 and spoke to you in New Orleans, I talked about SLA being my family and the desire to make things more transparent. While there is always room for improvement, our activities and those of the entire Association are indeed more transparent. I’m thankful to Cindy Romaine, Brent Mai and Deb Hunt – and especially grateful to Den Trefethen and John DiGilio – for their efforts to make that happen.

Yes, you are still my family! These past three years have been my attempt to give back to you the support and hope that you have given to me. Like any family, we have our rough moments and, like any family, we find ways to pull together and pull through. And especially like any family, our best conversations happen over food! So I’m looking forward to sharing a meal or a cup of coffee (er…wine?) in Vancouver with you. I’ll be “off the clock” and ready for what comes my way!

2 Responses to “Looking Back…as a director on the SLA Board”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey so that others will think about serving on the SLA Board as a growth opportunity and a way to contribute to their association and profession.

  2. Deb Hunt says:

    Thanks, Jill, for all your work on behalf of SLA and its members. I’m glad you have shared what it is about being on the Board that makes it worthwhile and also how much work and time it does take. I’m grateful for all SLA volunteers and that is why, at the 2013 Annual Conference, I presented the President’s Award to all of our volunteers. We are on the same team — the SLA team.

    Thank you for serving on the board.

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