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SLA chooses MCI USA as AMC

Fellow SLA Members,

Last month, 2015 SLA President Jill Strand and I shared a message with you about continuity–continuity of purpose, direction, and resolve. In that message, we noted that SLA had made many critical decisions in 2015 to position ourselves for the future. Now, in 2016, we need to continue the hard but necessary work of translating these decisions into action and ensuring that SLA will continue to be a vibrant home for the special librarian community.

Among the decisions the board made last year was to engage an association management company (AMC) to lead staff and support operations at SLA headquarters. I am pleased to report that your SLA Board of Directors has reached an agreement with MCI USA (formerly Coulter), a leading association management company based in Northern Virginia, to assume staff leadership and management duties effective March 1.

Although transitioning to an AMC may seem disruptive at a time when we are finalizing our conference arrangements, laying the foundation for our Pooled Resources Initiative, and preparing to roll out our new online community, SLA Connect, it will actually ensure that you will continue to receive the services you expect and deserve. Calls to SLA will use the same phone number, and beginning March 1 will be answered by a live voice, not an automated phone attendant. E-mail addresses will remain the same as well, as will the URL for the SLA Website.

In short, your day-to-day member experience will not change.
What will change is that we will be able to draw on MCI USA’s pool of talented support staff and apply their specialized skills to areas needing targeted support. These skills will be especially helpful as we implement the Road Map for SLA’s Future, which the board approved last year. MCI USA leaders have “mapped” the goals and objectives of the Road Map into four strategic priority areas–engagement, knowledge management, partnerships, and success–and developed a staffing structure to support these areas. This staffing structure combines the experience of three current SLA employees with the expertise of MCI USA specialists to create a team of association professionals dedicated to strengthening SLA and its member benefits and services.

To lead this team, MCI USA is currently conducting a search for a new executive director of SLA. In the interim, Erin Fuller, MCI USA’s president of Association Management & Consulting and a certified association executive, will serve as SLA’s transition executive, beginning March 1. Erin has assured me and the board of directors that MCI USA will not just maintain but enhance the level of service that SLA members receive, and we are confident that she and her team will deliver on this commitment.
This does not mean that the transition will be entirely seamless. Our overarching goal in engaging an association management company was to ensure we have the skills and resources needed to implement the decisions we made last year and will continue to make as we go forward. In assessing our skills needs, we identified some roles where current SLA staff would fit well; other roles were deemed a better fit for MCI USA specialists. This means we are saying goodbye to some longtime SLA staff, and we thank them for their years of service and wish them well.
The attached chart shows the topline transitional staffing structure being put in place to serve SLA, and we look forward to introducing you to the entire team at the 2016 conference in Philadelphia. I hope you will join me in welcoming our new MCI USA partners as they begin helping us create new opportunities for special librarians to learn, mentor, collaborate, and lead.
Tom Rink
2016 SLA President

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