Today marks my second week with NAI, and although my head is spinning a bit, I am very excited to be here, working with such a great staff and board to move the association forward. It is a beautiful spring day in Fort Collins – 84 degrees and sunny, and the weather matches my mood. A four-day cross-country road trip and the first phase of unpacking boxes are behind me. I have planted an herb garden and bought a bicycle and now feel one with the Colorado zeitgeist!
The more I learn about NAI, its mission and membership, the more I am struck by similarities with the museum community that has been my world for the past 19 years. Both share a passion for the preservation and interpretation of historic, cultural and environmental heritage. Both have dedicated staff and volunteers, who deal with the challenges of tight budgets and tight timeframes. For both, education is the key mission.
I have been amazed over the years at the dedication and resiliency of people who work in the nonprofit cultural and environmental sectors. They certainly aren’t in it for the pay! But the benefits, both tangible and intangible, make all the difference. For the most part we work in beautiful or at least interesting locations, we get to work with the public and meet interesting people, and we get to feed that abiding love for history, nature, science and art.
One of the reasons I decided to apply for this position was the very evident commitment of the board to the mission of the organization and its determination to preserve and build on the respect that NAI engenders worldwide. I have been in the nonprofit arena for more years than I care to admit, and one truth is universal – the selfless dedication of board members is the key to a healthy and thriving organization.
I have three primary goals for my tenure – to grow membership, especially by reaching out to under-represented interpretive disciplines such as historic sites and art; to develop member services that will help interpreters in their careers and daily work lives; and to ensure that the organization is on a sound financial footing and following best practices in association management.
Right now I am in a listening and learning mode. I am grateful for the comments and well wishes I’ve received already from members, and I am anxious to hear from all of the NAI stakeholders – members and nonmembers alike. Well, maybe not all – there are about 5,000 members and I wouldn’t get anything done if I answered every one! But I want to hear from you. I welcome any and all comments, suggestions, complaints, and kudos for the organization. I want to know what you like about NAI, where you see the need for some improvement, and what thoughts you have for its future. NAI is a wonderful organization, and I am proud to be part of the staff serving its members in the interpretation and related fields.
— Margo Carlock