Big Ideas ALA Executive Director’s Letter

How ALA HQ Is Working for You, Our Members

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” These profound words attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt neatly encapsulate my approach toward the challenges I face as a leader and that ALA faces as an organization. 

Eryn Carter, CAE

Certainly, there are times when we might try something new or different and it doesn’t always create the results we expected. ALA members can attest that being a leader in their legal organizations is no easy feat, and uncertainty and trial and error are sometimes integral components of their role. I am energized by the fact that we at ALA headquarters are working proactively to address the needs and concerns that our members have and help them to overcome and learn from their challenges. Here are some of the ways we are doing this:

1. Ensuring that ALA HQ has an experienced and engaged professional staff who reflect our Core Values

Within the last year, we have made key hires for our Business Development, Finance, Human Resources and Membership teams. These staff additions to our team bring decades of collective association and nonprofit management experience to ALA, and their expertise in their respective fields enables us to blend fresh ideas and approaches with the tried-and-true methods and institutional knowledge that have allowed ALA to achieve 50+ years of success.

“In all areas of life, challenges are inevitable, but what’s important is how we respond to them. ALA is no exception.”

2. Aligning staff priorities with ALA’s Strategic Direction

It is critical that our performance as a staff is constantly being measured against the pillars and success indicators of ALA’s Strategic Direction. This not only provides congruency between the Board and staff leadership — it also helps our members and business partners see how both entities are aligned and are messaging like-minded goals and aspirations for the organization.

3. Providing superior customer service to members and business partners

The success and viability of ALA is rooted in our service to and relationships with current and prospective members and business partners. This is an area of focus and responsibility for all of us and, although we may miss the mark on occasion, we strive for 100% satisfaction.

I consistently encourage our staff to approach each of these priorities with a can-do attitude, just as Roosevelt advocated. No idea is worth disregarding if it can help our members. In all areas of life, challenges are inevitable, but what’s important is how we respond to them. ALA is no exception.

While complete success may be our goal, “failing forward” can be just as valuable because it allows us to learn and grow as an organization, a staff and as people. In doing so, we hope to be an ever more indispensable resource for our members as they navigate the rapidly changing legal industry.