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Student Column: ICA Behind the Scenes

Posted By Tamar Lazar, U of Haifa, Wednesday, March 1, 2017

When I look at organizations, in my academic research as well as my professional life, I am always curious about the people behind the scenes — who are they? How did they end up doing what they do? And what can we learn from them? All these individual stories of the people who make things happen create a fascinating picture about the organization itself. 

As Students and Early Career (SEC) members of ICA, what do we really know about how ICA works as an organization? To gain a deeper understanding, I approached the six people who constitute the ICA staff and asked them about their individual story. Their inspiring answers reveal their diverse experiences and talents and — most of all — their great dedication to the ICA organization and to all of us as its members. They also have very helpful tips for student and early career members. 

Discover some surprising facts about the ICA team — who was a professional actor on stage, on television, and in movies?

Who has a newborn son? Who receives an average of 100 new emails per day? Who met her fiancé by chance, on a plane? Who moonlights as a jazz critic? Who finds being an adult student with a full-time job challenging but rewarding? 

LAURA SAWYER
Executive Director

1. Tell us about yourself:

I was born and raised in Athens, Georgia (US) but have lived in London, San Francisco, the Virgin Islands, and Atlanta, plus 20 years in Chicago, which I consider my hometown (go Cubs!). My undergraduate degree in communication and my MA in English Literature are both from DePaul University in Chicago. I have worked in the nonprofit field since 1995, starting with 18 years at a medical specialty association (I ran the World Spine Society, with conferences in Beijing, Sydney, Istanbul, Chicago, and Rio de Janeiro, as well as a spine-specific Medicins Sans Frontiers-type program that provided free surgeries for children with spinal disorders in Malawi and the Dominican Republic), and I hold the Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential. I met my husband, Andrés, a DC native and first-generation American (his parents are from Bolivia and India), in 2010. We married and moved back to the DC area to be near family (we have two sons, Lincoln and Gus, ages 10 and 3, along with a Boston Terrier named Oscar). Once in DC, I was hired to serve as ED for an arts organization here, but when the ICA position presented itself I felt it was the perfect fit for me and I feel lucky that the search committee agreed!  

2. What is your position within ICA?  
I serve as an ex-officio member of the Board and Executive Committee, and serve as a resource to both groups in matters of non-profit law and association best practices. My primary purpose is to see to it that all functions of the Board and staff are carried out for the good of the association, combining data-based risk analyses, my knowledge of governance principles, and personal experience to make decisions affecting the organization, and ensuring that the decisions made by the Board are operationalized in the most efficient way possible. I compile the organization’s annual budget, research possible locations for ICA’s annual conferences, do the macro conference planning, and serve as primary decision-maker for all operational functions of the staff office, human resources management, and the physical office location. It is actually quite unusual for an Executive Director to be the lead conference planner at an association—as with all other staff responsibilities at ICA, one person covers tasks that a whole department would cover elsewhere! 
 
3.  What is your main challenge right now?
January to March is always a very busy time, starting with the prep for the midyear Board of Directors meeting leading into conference planning and scheduling. Jennifer Le, Kris Rosa, and I get upwards of 200 e-mails per day around this time of year, with everything from password lockout requests and questions about hotel accommodations to visa invitation letters, reception requests, and registration questions. The biggest two challenges this year that have added a layer of difficulty on top of the usual crush are our new website and getting everyone converted over to their new profiles (this has been a time-consuming task for almost everyone here), and the extra time I have spent making sure that the recent executive order on travel to the US does not adversely affect our attendees. This has been an eye-opening experience, but I’m happy to say that we have been able to make arrangements for all of the affected presenters and get everyone to the podium, whether virtually or physically. 

4.  What would you like to say our audience, the student and early career members?
Three things: 

If you are new to ICA, you will be pleasantly surprised at how open and welcoming your senior scholars are. Virtually everyone at ICA insists you call them by their first name instead of “professor” or “doctor,” and our senior scholars are overwhelmingly dedicated to providing opportunities for advancement and growth for not only younger scholars but also those who are from underrepresented regions (while simultaneously working to make them no longer underrepresented). The phrase “once you have achieved success, send the elevator down to bring someone else up” comes to mind.  Great things are happening at ICA. If you’re interested in being involved, just reach out. Your Student and Early-Career Reps are amazing, and they have a wealth of knowledge on how to navigate ICA.

I know how tired you are! When I was in my early twenties, I had a full time career in the nonprofit world, plus a full time career in the evenings as a professional actor (stage, television, and movies), and was finishing my graduate degree on Monday nights. I never slept more than four hours per night, and I lived on coffee and prepackaged ramen noodles. For those of you who are adult students juggling jobs and academia (and even parenting), I feel your pain! Let me know what I can do to help. Adding childcare this year is something we felt we wanted to do to make a big impact for young scholars juggling academia and parenthood. I’ll be attending the New Member Orientation in San Diego; I look forward to meeting you there! 

Don’t miss the dance party on Saturday night. A relatively new phenomenon at ICA started by then-President Peter Vorderer, this party has become a keystone event for conference. It’s a ton of fun. Bring comfortable shoes! 


JOHN PAUL GUTIERREZ
Associate Executive Director

1. Tell us about yourself:
I am a first-generation American (parents are from Mexico), born and raised in Santa Ana, CA, and I work for ICA from my home in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve been married for 5 years to my wife Fabrizzia and have a newborn son, Lucca Paolo, just  four months old now. I have a BA and MA in Communication; I received my MA from the U of Westminster where Paddy Scannell was my advisor. I came to ICA after six years at SAGE Publications, where I was the acquisitions editor for Communication journals.

2. What is your position within ICA? 
I’m the Associate Executive Director. I mainly oversee ICA’s media outreach and publishing programs as well as providing support in those areas to the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. For students, I’m a good resource for connecting you to journalists and getting your research in front of the public.
 
3.  What is your main challenge right now?
My main challenge will be the transition of our journals to our new publisher, Oxford University Press, later this year. I just completed project management for getting us over to our new website. 

4.  What would you like to say our audience, the student and early career members? 
It’s incredibly important to take advantage of the networking opportunities at the Annual Conference and not to be shy in talking to senior scholars. If you read their work, go talk to them, it’s how I forged relationships that I have today. Also, know your rights as an author, make sure you are well versed in the copyright and exclusive licenses you sign over to publishers for books and journal articles. I’m here as a resource for you on publishing and getting your research out to the media, take advantage of it!

JENNIFER LE
Manager of Conference Services & Office Manager

1. Tell us about yourself:
My parents immigrated to America from Vietnam a little over 30 years ago. Since then, I was born and raised in Northern Virginia. My older brother, my parents, and my loveable dog, Lucky, make up our little family (in size and in height!). I graduated from Virginia Tech about 6 years ago, studying Communications with a focus in Journalism. The word “communication” is what serendipitously brought me to ICA. When I found the job posting for ICA, I was searching for anything related to communication. I immediately applied after I saw that the description entailed a little bit of everything I enjoyed doing (and was good at). And, that’s which is how I became a Jill of all Trades here at ICA.

2. What is your position within ICA? 
I’ve been with ICA for four years now, and every year my job title has changed but my responsibilities have somewhat remained the same (just expanding). I started out as an Administrative Assistant, and have worked my way up to Manager of Conference Services. My main interactions with ICA members involve, of course, conference related matters such as the paper management website. But, with a small staff, we all wear different hats. Not only am I the Manager of Conference Services, I’m also the Office Manager and Accounts Payable. I’m fortunate enough to have started from the very bottom as the Admin/Office Assistant, because it gave me a lot of involvement in each department. I learned a lot and grew from the knowledge and experience I gained, which has made me the Jill of all Trades I am today! 

3. What is your main challenge right now?

One thing I used to be really good at was replying to e-mails quickly. But that was before I got an average of 100 new e-mails per day! I used to think I was good at multitasking, but now I’ve learned that I’m a lot faster when I focus on one thing at a time and separate my time wisely. One thing I’d love to enhance and work on more is the new website. My whole life, there has always been so much I want to do, but never enough time. That alone, is my biggest challenge at work and in life!

4. What would you like to say our audience, the student and early career members?
I would say to the SEC members, take advantage of every opportunity to be involved and participate. Especially during conference, there’s so many ways to connect and just meet new people from all around the world. It’s actually one of my favorite things about working at ICA and at conference.


JULIE M. RANDOLPH
Senior Manager of Member Services & Governance

1. Tell us about yourself:
Originally from a tiny town in Northeastern Connecticut, I earned my B.A. from Eastern Connecticut State University in Sociology and Applied Social Relations with a minor in Criminal Justice.   Fresh out of college, I began my career as a social worker helping to connect people with addiction and mental health treatment providers. In my midtwenties I moved to Chicago where, over the course of the 10 years I lived there, I fell in love with the “Windy City” and all of its unique charm. I worked in the surgical education arena at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine where I gained an earnest respect for the complexity of academic systems. I left NU for the opportunity to advance my career with a position in association management, working for the North American Spine Society.  I was hired at NASS by my then-boss, Laura Sawyer – a name you may well recognize as she is now ICA’s Executive Director.  During my tenure with NASS I was the Senior Manager of Professionalism and Governance where I oversaw NASS’ robust ethics program, section development, as well as the committee appointment and evaluation processes. I returned to the east coast about 18 months ago, relocating to Rhode Island, continuing to work for NASS remotely until good fortune afforded the grand opportunity to again find myself in the employ of Laura, who recruited me to join the ICA team. I am the newest team member at ICA, having come aboard in July 2016.

I work remotely out of my home near Providence, Rhode Island.  
2016 proved to be an extraordinarily exciting year in both my professional and personal worlds as, in addition to a new job, I am newly engaged. I met my fiancé by chance, on a plane, which makes for a pretty cool story (though, admittedly I’m biased). With him, I am remarkably lucky to share two exceptional, sweet, athletic, smart, and funny stepchildren (ages 14 & 10) and one very sweet, energetic (and extremely wimpy) rescue dog named Mojo. 

2. What is your position within ICA?
I am the Senior Manager of Member Services and Governance at ICA. I supervise Kristine Rosa, ICA’s Member Services & Fundraising Coordinator.  She is an absolute joy to work with, and I feel fortunate to be her boss! I am primarily responsible for all aspects of membership development, including recruitment and retention of members; website and database development, especially when pertaining to member benefits and member access to information that will facilitate research development. I oversee operations in membership database records upkeep, dues processing, and conference registration.

3. What is your main challenge right now?
Perhaps my greatest challenge currently is the learning curve that goes hand in hand with being new in any position.  In addition to learning our new website and systems, I am also still learning about our organization and our members’ needs.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my engagement with ICA members thus far, each (new to me) question, concern or compliment that comes my way is an opportunity for me to learn more – so please, keep them coming!  

4. What would you like to say our audience, the student and early career members?
ICA members should feel comfortable in contacting me directly should they have any questions related to their membership or our web interface, or should there be anything we can do to enhance their membership experience – I would be delighted to hear from them!


MICHAEL J. WEST
Director of Publications

1. Tell us about yourself:
I grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and moved to Washington DC just out of college (the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) in 2001. I came to ICA in 2005, when my previous employer announced they were moving out of town and I apparently said something right in my job interview! I also moonlight as a jazz critic.

2. What is your position within ICA? 
I am ICA’s Director of Publications. This means that I copy edit all of ICA’s journal articles; coordinate their production processes; edit and compile the annual conference program; and serve as managing editor (including layout!) for the ICA Newsletter.

3. What is your main challenge right now?
ICA is moving to a new publisher, OUP, in 2018. That means that I am working on the transition for our journals and their editors and staff. We have also recently redesigned the Newsletter, which I hope is an enhancement!

4. What would you like to say our audience, the student and early career members?
 The APA Style Manual, 6th ed. is your best friend!


KRISTINE ROSA
ICA Member Services
& Fundraising Coordinator

1. Tell us about yourself:
My family is from the Dominican Republic, but I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. After completing my Bachelor’s in Psychology degree at The Pennsylvania State University I relocated to Maryland where I now live with my partner. I’ve been with ICA for almost two years, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be here. The staff, the members, and my duties have made my experience here so grand, that I decided to enroll in the Master’s program at American U for Strategic Communication. Being an adult student with a full-time job is challenging but rewarding! 

2. What is your position within ICA? 
My position is Member Services and Fundraising Coordinator. I am the point of contact for membership and conference registration inquires. I manage the database, updating members’ profiles, and processing dues and conference registrations. I am also responsible for managing the Association’s accounts receivables and newsletter/website advertising inquires. I also speak Spanish and can assist members who need assistance in their language. 

3. What is your main challenge right now?
With the start of conference registration my focus is processing the applications in a timely manner. 

4. What would you like to say our audience, the student and early career members?
From a personal point of view, I say listen to your instincts. You will always be directed to and through the right path by listening to yourself. 

 

Tags:  March 2017 

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