Janice R. Lachance, Chief Executive Officer of SLA, speaks about her recent trip to the UK and her experience as the guest of honour at SLA Europe’s networking event in February. Prior to joining the SLA in 2003 as CEO, Janice worked in a number of high-profile roles including serving as a member of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the UN’s Internet Governance Forum and has worked as Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
This may seem an unusual way to begin a guest blog post, but it is the most important message I have about my visit to SLA Europe in London a few weeks ago. Thank you to Sam and all the volunteers involved in setting up the lovely and fun after-work event. Thank you to all the officers who work hard to create enjoyable learning events for the membership. Thank you to Don Roll of Alacra, our friend and generous sponsor of the evening. And, a big thank you to all the members who came to say hello in the middle of half-term.
It had been more than two years since I had last visited you in London, and how things have changed! The Shard is now complete, the Olympics are part of history, and Prince William is married and expecting an heir.
And things were different at the SLA Europe event, too. As I looked at the crowd in attendance, I was pleased to see the familiar faces of many old friends – who have volunteered countless hours with SLA to build their network and better the professional lives of their colleagues – whom I have known and valued since my first few weeks in this job some ten years ago. But there was something different about that crowd, too. It was the large number of new faces, the new professionals who are just getting started and who are bringing new ideas and energy to SLA. I loved meeting them. They are rightfully proud of the degrees they have earned and the jobs they have landed; they are excited about new technologies and the future of the profession; and, they are unabashedly enthusiastic about SLA.
Most of these younger members have come to us through SLA Europe’s generous Early Career Conference Award; a successful program and tremendous opportunity for a new professional to attend an SLA conference and be paired with a mentor while there. The award winners regaled me with wonderful stories of their time at conference and their resulting commitment to SLA. Their excitement about the quality of the sessions, the impressive keynote speakers, the large number of exhibitors, and the friendliness of SLA members was infectious.
The other very noticeable difference in the crowd that night was that there was SLA President-elect in attendance, and she is from the UK! It is the first time in SLA’s 104-year history that we have elected a President-elect from outside North America. Kate Arnold has served this association very well as a Board member and Board Secretary, and I know she will be an outstanding President in 2014. Her election is strong evidence that SLA is truly an international association, with benefits for information professionals in every part of the world.
So, once again, SLA Europe: Thank You! It was a delightful visit, and I hope to see each of you in San Diego, California.