Letter from Debbie

February 27, 2020

Most of you know that I come from an arts background…more specifically, a theatre background. From my humble beginnings in the MSU theatre department, I have been blessed to work and build friendships for the past 40 years in an industry that is populated by individuals driven by sheer talent and devotion to their calling.

A healthy theatre environment thrives, indeed soars, when a new production is staged; a group of artists and technicians come together to form a new family; group effort and teamwork are prevalent; and innovative, creative, challenging ideas are put on the table. That is what producing theatre is all about – molding and shaping of ideas from hundreds of different perspectives and opinions – a truly collaborative environment.

These attributes are encompassed in every leadership position that I have ever held and today the same can be said of the environment here at the Michigan Library Association.

I am grateful and honored to work with some very talented individuals (both board and staff) who put their entire hearts and souls into the daily work of supporting libraries throughout Michigan. We are a small, but mighty, organization where everyone can get involved, where everyone can share an opinion, and where everyone can take credit for the worthwhile work that we produce.

So, without further ado, I would like to give credit, where credit is due. It has been a whirlwind eight months for me, and I am blessed to work with four outstanding women and one young man who deserve public recognition and credit for adapting to my work ethics and sharing the workload with me.

It is a true team effort. Romy Fitschen, Rachel Ash, Amber Sheerin, Lisa Buttigieg and Ryan Logan are innovative thinkers; they are kind, generous, and sometimes very funny; they take initiative at every opportunity; they are resourceful and creative; and best of all, they anticipate and identify challenges long before they reach my desk.

We are a forward-moving organization and changing quickly to adapt to new trends and challenges, and as a result, staff transitions and changes within our organization are expected events. With that being said, it is with a sense of sadness that I let you know that one of the team is moving on -- Romy will soon be leaving us for new adventures.

Romy Fitschen, our Associate Executive Director, has been with MLA for a little more than three years, building relationships with our members and running our administration and finance with measured finesse and skill. During her tenure, Romy initiated the updates to our database, which has led to better customer service, saved staff time, and reduced technology costs. She consistently goes above and beyond – including finding new ways to accomplish goals and streamline operations. She has overhauled most, if not all, of our systems and policies that keep us organized and moving at lightning pace. 

Here are a few departing words from Romy:

"It is with a mixture of sadness and excitement that I am leaving the Michigan Library Association. I will be heading to the Opportunity Resource Fund, a community development financial institution that attempts to improve communities by creating equitable, economic and sustainable opportunities across Michigan. It will be a different focus on the same issues of serving people in this state, especially those who have/are left out of the systems that benefit so many of us. I have had a wonderful time here at the MLA and it was an honor to provide leadership both in my position and during the executive director transition. The staff is marvelous, I can’t say enough about the current team we have, and I thought long and hard about missing out on the opportunities I see happening for MLA. Over the last three-plus years, I have gotten to work and know many of the Board and members in the library community well. I will miss you as Librarians Are The Best! Thank you for the work you all do to make this world better each and every day. "

-Romy

While her departure leaves a hole and some mighty big shoes to fill, we have an opportunity to look deep and re-imagine our organizational structure and find the best way to serve you, our members. Our high professional standards in finance and administration are a direct reflection of Romy’s work, and it gave me great pleasure to work with her on a daily basis. Job well done Romy! We will miss you!

The ideal candidate to replace Romy will be a people person who will show leadership in advocating for libraries, building relationships, taking charge of finance and administration, and growing our non-dues revenue for sustainability.  We will let you know how we will proceed with the job opening in the very near future – watch for our posting. Perhaps even one of you may be interested in joining us. The staff and board look forward to adding a new member to our team and to continue growing our organization in exciting new directions. 

Debbie Signatiure

Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director

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