LM Extras Oct 6, 2021

The 411 on Day 3 in Austin

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“Order a bowl of soup.” It was a phrase spoken to a young Rick Rigsby, PhD, by his father, who was a cook and a third-grade dropout. “If the soup’s not good, don’t invest in the restaurant.”

Valerie A. Danner

That simple story is representative of Rigsby’s overall message: the need to get back to basics. His booming voice and call-and-response style kicked off Tuesday’s events as the featured speaker for the David W. Brezina Memorial Session. In his moving session, he spoke about how not making excuses, not blaming others, kindness and getting reacquainted with common sense are the most basic and necessary ingredients for success in the workplace and in life.

It was an inspiring kick off way to start a day of education that ranged from current needs, such as returning to the office amid an ongoing pandemic and understanding implicit biases, to evergreen needs, like prepping for cybersecurity audits from clients to increasing collections.  

President Michael T. Bumgarner, CLM, CPA, CGMA; Immediate Past President Debra L. Elsbury, CLM; and ALA Executive Director April Campbell, JD, later took the stage for the Association Lunch, where they celebrated ALA’s latest accomplishments, recognized some prominent members who have played an important role in the organization’s successes, and thanked those who support us.

“I would be remiss to not recognize the craziness of the past 20 months for all of us,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve all been trying our best to navigate our lives during a pandemic, social and political upheaval, and all the additional never before stresses we have been trying to live through. It’s affected our jobs, our families, our friends and our jobs. Our mental and physical health have been pushed to limits not experienced in our lives. I would think that we have all been affected by the loss of friends and family during this unprecedented time in our lives.”

“Each of you should all be proud of yourselves for your resilience and courage to lead your firms, your family and quite frankly yourself to keep on keeping on,” he continued. “It’s not always easy, and I for one have certainly had days I questioned if I could keep doing it, but I applaud all of you for what you are doing and your leadership in your own life.”

One of the most poignant and emotional moments of the conference so far came when Bumgarner posthumously presented the Spirit of ALA Award to Past President Paula K. Barnes, who passed away in January after an intense battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

“Rare doesn’t even begin to describe this year’s recipient,” said Bumgarner. “Paula Barnes was a mentor to many, an advocate of ALA and a dedicated volunteer. Her welcoming personality and compassion for others was evident everywhere she went. … She is deeply missed.”

That sense of enthusiasm and dedication continues to permeate the ALA community, and it’s sure to be on display on the final day of conference. We’ll be back on Wednesday with a wrap-up of the concluding events — including the Association Awards Gala and the VIP Grand Finale.

Attendees roaming the Austin Convention Center were treated to a visual feast courtesy of @skinnyaliens of Kingman Ink. The artist is doing real-time graphic recordings from various events throughout. Check out more of her work for ALA while on-site in Austin by checking out ALA’s Instagram: @ala_buzz.