March 2011

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March 2011

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Paddling Toward Charlotte

Feeding the ducks was something our sons looked forward to every time we visited Grandpa Tom in Maryland. We started this tradition in the summer by visiting the big city park in the town where he lives. We purchased feed at the dispensers, and the boys would toss it to the ducks. The ducks would swim about gracefully, but the water was clear, so you could see their webbed feet moving like crazy to get them to the next little kid with feed. The smart ducks would even keep an eye on people coming from the seed dispensers and try to guess where they were headed to be first in line.

This is just a portion of the new merchandise, books, supplies, and equipment that are being packed up for a trip to Charlotte.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas

The ducks looked smooth and graceful to most people's eyes, but I kept looking at everything their feet were doing to make motion happen. It is the perfect descriptor of what is going on this time of year around the National Office and the offices of our volunteer leadership. The Conference is coming, and that generates excitement around the country as our members prepare to attend. It may be their first conference, or somewhere near their 40th, but each year is special. Around the office and within the leadership, which look so graceful on top, the hard core paddling has started.

Shipping about two tons of materials from Syracuse to the Conference site has to be organized. The latest member author books and boutique items must be purchased to arrive in time to be added to inventory. Do we have enough ribbons? Is the all important swag prepped for distribution? Has the schedule been updated for the millionth time today? These all happen as the staff and leadership move from moment to moment just like those ducks. They know where the next item is that needs to be addressed and move to it quickly, efficiently, and gracefully.

All of this is going on while we add things like Elite Training and new member benefits. These things serve to enhance the member experience year round, and they don't go away just because the conference is happening. No, they just require faster paddling and forward thinking like those ducks that eyed the food dispenser.

For some of the staff, this is conference number 12. They have the hang of it but are constantly working to improve what is offered to the members. They can see the problems coming ahead and work to solve them before there is any clue they were coming. Take the time to say thanks to the Conference Committee, Board Members, and National Office staff. They have taken on the duck attitude so that you can get as much joy from the Conference as our sons did feeding those ducks in the pond.

David Grindle

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