2013 at NAI – A year of change

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ― Andy Warhol,

Changes take time. Usually more time then we think they will. That is why 2013 is going to be a great year for NAI. Not only will we be celebrating our 25th anniversary as an organization, but many of the changes that have been “in the works” for some time now will finally be unveiled.

The first of these is the redesign of the website, http://www.interpnet.com. Staff is still adding final touches to the site and transferring last bits of information from the old site, but I am sure that you all agree that it is cleaner and easier to navigate.

Staff is also putting the finishing touches on the new data management software. The most recent issue of our newsletter NAI Now included instructions on how to log on as a member, giving you complete control of your own data within the system. No more worries about misspelled names, incorrect addresses, etc – you will have the ability to update your own information.

We are also adding new “voices” to the NAI Blog. Vice President for Administration Cem Basman and Vice President for Programs John Luzader will join the Executive Director and me here, each of us posting on consecutive Tuesdays.

Some of the changes may seem less exciting than others. Maybe not all of you are as thrilled that new policy manuals made necessary by the changes to the by-laws last year will be developed. But for those of you who love getting their hands into important administrative work these represent, we are looking for volunteers to be part of several committees. The reorganization task Force, led by Linda Strand will now turn its efforts to member services. We will continue to solicit feedback and listen to members.

Most excitingly, we are coming to the end of the search process for a new executive director and hope to make an announcement in the next few weeks. In the meantime interim executive director Paul Caputo continues to do an outstanding job.

Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” I am not sure about perfection, but I do know that 2013 will be a year of great changes for NAI.

— Amy Lethbridge, NAI President


NAI: We’re a Very Huggy Group

The first time I stepped into NAI’s office in Fort Collins, Colorado, more than 11 years ago, I knew this was not a typical nonprofit association. The office had character—it was a small, cluttered Victorian house in a neighborhood made up almost exclusively of houses rented by Colorado State University students who liked to ski off their roofs when it snowed (true story!). Desks were coerced into awkward corners of rooms that were originally designed for dining or sleeping. Some of the very first NAI certification packets were assembled in a former kitchen, which required working around an inconveniently placed sink. My office, which I shared with at least one other staff person, was covered with wallpaper that can best be described as dated (and which clashed badly with my candy-colored iMac G3). NAI has since moved into a beautiful facility a few blocks to the north, but the character reflected in the first NAI office I ever knew remains as part of the culture of the organization.

Before I attended my first-ever NAI National Workshop (which was called the National Interpreters Workshop back then) in 2002 in Virginia Beach, NAI’s then-membership manager Heather Manier warned me, “It’s a very huggy group.” I had been with NAI for nine months at that point, but this would be my first chance to interact with many members in person. I saw what Heather meant right away at NIW 2002. People whom I had never met would light up with recognition upon seeing my name badge, and sure enough, many of them greeted me for the first time with an enthusiastic hug followed by, “You’re Paul. Welcome to NAI!”

I’ve seen a lot of NAI history in 11 years—the new office building, the introduction of the International Conference, the expansion of NAI certification, and a new logo, just to name a small sampling—but one of the things I enjoy most about working here is that I’ve stepped into an organization with extremely deep roots. I get to be part of something that matters a lot to a lot of people and has for a long time. (I’ve been a member of other professional associations, and I’ve never seen a culture of belonging like I see with NAI.) I’ve always enjoyed hearing the stories of the organizations that became NAI, the individuals who made that happen, and the origins of the institutions I found already in place when I arrived on the scene.