Aloha, Steve Wingert
Writing this column can sometimes be a challenge. I’ve had cases of writer’s block. Or, at the other extreme, I’ve struggled to settle on one or two key messages when there was so much to report. But this column is, by far, the hardest.
On March 18, Steven D. Wingert, CLM, ALA Past President, lost his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. All of us who were fortunate to know him lost a true friend, leader and mentor. His membership profile lists countless volunteer positions, speaking engagements and accolades — all testament to the many contributions he made to the organization. Each year, I attend a leadership conference with the incoming ALA President. One of the exercises asks us each to think about a person who represents our mental model of leadership. Every year, without exception, for both the new president and me, that model has been Steve Wingert.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that in 2015 Steve was awarded the Spirit of ALA Award, the Association’s highest honor. The ALA Board of Directors created this award for individuals who demonstrate a special and unique achievement. Steve embodied all of these qualities.
Steve had just become ALA President in May 2012 when I was lucky enough to be chosen as ALA’s Executive Director. That year, the Annual Conference & Expo was in Hawaii. I was hopeful the final-round interviews would be held in Honolulu; unfortunately, they were not. The O’Hare Crowne Plaza hotel does make a nice mai tai, though.