Big Ideas ALA Executive Director’s Letter

Making the Leap: My First Day as an Incoming Director on the ALA Board of Directors

Editor’s Note: For the coming months, various members of ALA’s volunteer leadership will be taking turns writing the Executive Director’s Big Ideas column. We hope you enjoy the fresh perspectives they’ll be sharing. 
Eric L. Hightower, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP


So I made it through the nomination process and am newly elected to the international Association of Legal Administrators’ Board of Directors. Naturally, I am humbled by the honor and excited to start giving back to an Association that has provided so much to me.

As I traveled to Chicago for my first meeting, all kinds of thoughts swirled through my mind — mainly, could I keep up? I mean, after all, there are some pretty smart people in that room! As many of us know, 80% of what we worry about never comes to fruition. I’m happy to report that this scenario wasn’t any different.

Yes, your Board of Directors is a pretty “work hard” kind of group. But their behaviors are just like you would expect at any other ALA event — very kind and accommodating! They have a true desire for everyone in the room to be successful; their greatest concern is that ALA delivers exceptional value to its members.

The day before heading to Chicago, an ALA Past President (she will know who she is) emailed me and told me not to be nervous and to have fun. She also wanted to impart three items of advice to me:

  1. Listen more and talk less.
  2. Ask questions to clarify.
  3. Remember that you are no longer representing one committee or one chapter but the entire Association, so your thoughts have to be directed toward the overall picture.

I am thankful for that advice and found those words to be immensely helpful. To the Board’s credit, they want honest feedback from the new directors; everyone has a chance to voice their thoughts on a matter. There were a few times where I would hear myself speak, while inside I was telling myself to just please stop talking! But the rest of Board listened intently and took value in not only what I was saying, but also in the comments that ensued. After seeing this, I was able to breathe again!

There is an orientation to bring incoming directors up-to-date with issues; a session regarding the bylaws, articles of incorporation and other legalities involved in managing an association; and an introduction to the wonderful headquarters staff. One point of discussion I focused on during the orientation process was the topic of fiduciary duties, which include duty of care, duty of loyalty and duty of obedience.

Rest assured that your Association Board of Directors value input, different perspectives, diversity and inclusion, and are always making the best decisions possible.

Honestly, there aren’t enough lines for this limited article to discuss all the details. But suffice it to say, it’s a lot of responsibility. I was very pleased to see that everyone involved takes it very seriously. All decisions are made with a lot of due diligence and always with the entire membership in mind before those decisions are finalized. Rest assured that your Association Board of Directors value input, different perspectives, diversity and inclusion, and are always making the best decisions possible.

This, of course, is not any different from the many volunteers within the Association. From chapter resource directors to chapter leaders to committee chairs and members, everyone is doing their best and making the best decisions they can for their local members as well as the Association membership at large. This is what makes ALA such a great Association to be a part of. If you have not had an opportunity to volunteer, what’s stopping you? It doesn’t have to be on a large scale — any effort is helpful and the local chapters are always thankful for assistance, new ideas, new perspectives and networking opportunities. Grab a buddy and make a leap to become more active in ALA!

After just one meeting of the Board of Directors, I am very excited for this year and the many opportunities afforded through the Association. As the Board of Directors motto states: “No member left behind. We are all in this TOGETHER!”