President’s Message

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Ruth V. Fry

Happy 45th Anniversary Maryland Chapter members!  Can you hear the sound of champagne bottles popping open and the fizzle into the glasses?  Ok, call me crazy, but that is something to be proud of.  The Maryland Chapter is one of the longest tenured chapters since ALA’s existence.

Every March/April brings a new board, different faces, and often fresh new perspectives.  I can tell you I will do my best to serve the members of the Maryland Chapter to the best of my ability.  If you know me, and I believe most of you do, I cannot do it without my brothers and sisters.  I feel as though I have grown up with the Maryland Chapter.  I respect and genuinely admire you all for your steadfastness and professionalism.  I have learned something from just about every one of you.

I recently had lunch with a wise and trusted friend, Cynthia Cherry from Baker Donelson, and asked her “What should I do differently as Chapter President?”  Cynthia responded, “Ruth, just be yourself and you will be great.  Make it “Ruth-like” and make it fun.”  I appreciate that advice especially because I don’t know how to be anyone else but me!

I would be remiss if I did not give kudos to two particular board members who have worked closely with me over the last two years during some challenging times.  With the passing of our dear friend Beth Wybolt, Steve Shaffer and Renee Lane-Kunz have led the Chapter with professionalism, grace and ease.  Both Steve and Renee are great examples of exceptional leaders.  They are people who know how to achieve goals and inspire people along the way.

The Board met earlier this month to plan the educational sessions for the remainder of 2017-2018.  Based on your comments and suggestions from the member satisfaction survey, we believe we have planned some interesting and engaging educational sessions for you.  What we hear loud and clear is you want more roundtable discussions and professional speakers.

One of the biggest benefits I have received from being a Maryland Chapter member are the friendships.  While we work at competing law firms/legal organizations, we share non-confidential information with each other.  Why we do this is simple — we feel comfortable with each other and there is no one else within our own firm/organization we can talk to about these things that understands it any better than a legal professional.

 

We are over 87 members strong representing over 80 law firms in the State of Maryland.  We are HR generalists, office managers, finance directors, executive directors, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Human Resources Directors, HR Managers, Finance Manager, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, etc.

Our goals are similar – “How can we make our firms profitable and more efficient, while achieving diversity and inclusion throughout our ranks of lawyers and support staff personnel?”

Our Chapter derives its strength from the talent, experience and background of each of our 87 members.  We represent large, mid-size and small law firms, as well as legal departments and other legal-related organizations.

Throughout my Presidential year, I plan to focus on being more inclusive with our entire membership.  The Board cannot control the diversity part of the membership.  We can do a better job of being more inclusive with each other.  One of the best diversity and inclusion speakers, Verna Myers, is quoted in saying:  “Diversity is being asked to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance.”  Consider this at the next educational meetings.  Try not to sit with members of your own firm.  Better yet, find someone who you do not know.  Ask to sit at their table and get to know them.  What if I offered you $100 to get to know someone better?  Wouldn’t that be sweet?  I cannot offer the $100 because Kristi Peyton, our Treasurer, would kill me.  I think you get the idea though.

Get involved in our Chapter.  Consider joining a committee.  Or, write an article or simply raise your hand at one of our upcoming educational meetings to be heard and offer your opinion.  We are also committed to serving our community in many ways through our annual charitable event, as well as food drives, clothing or school drives, and other volunteer activities.  Be sure to check out our Community Connection page for volunteer opportunities.  Participation is vitally important to the success of our Chapter. I invite you to call on any member of the Executive Board to discuss how you can make a difference and add value to our Chapter.

I am humbled and honored (and just a wee bit scared) to be selected as the Chapter President of the Maryland ALA.  I invite you to work with me to get things done over the next year.  Together, we can make ALA great again, without building any walls!