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Monday, June 16, 2014

I am the new President of the Women's National Book Association!

Last weekend I was in Detroit for the annual national board meeting of the Women's National Book Association and at the end of the meeting on Monday, I was named as the new national president!

I am both excited and a little apprehensive about this new role.

I first joined the WNBA back in 1998 when I worked at Ingram Book Group, mostly for their summer book club. But when I moved to New York, I transferred my membership as they had amazing speakers and events. In neither chapter though, was I terribly involved. I was young and I am an introvert which means I don't jump at the chance to speak up or do anything publicly. But then I moved to Charlotte, NC. For the first several years I was here, I remained a long-distance member of the NYC chapter. But I became increasingly frustrated at my inability to attend their awesome events, and I also was frustrated that I was having trouble meeting book-minded people in town. I know my bookish people were here somewhere--I just didn't know where. It occurred to me that I could start a chapter here. And that would look good on my resume. I was a little nervous as I figured, as founder, I was likely to be elected president no matter how much I protested, but in the end I decided that wouldn't be the end of the world. And it wasn't. We founded the chapter in 2009. (And yes, I was elected the first president.)

When I went to my first national meeting, even though I started off a bit intimidated, by the end I had made new friends and I was excited and enthusiastic about WNBA both nationally and locally. Since then, I've only not attended the national meeting once and I missed it. Luckily for me, this gig is a six-year commitment, so it will be a while before I have the option of not attending again! (Two years as VP, two years as President, and two years as Past-President, which is an executive officer position.) I loved meeting all these cool and fascinating women across the industry and across the country (there are ten chapters.) I loved hearing about the fun and interesting events the other chapters do (and maybe adopting some of those ideas for ourselves!)

Now, as president, I am excited that we are planning for our 100th anniversary in 2017. It's a time to reflect on how far we've come--the organization was founded before women had the right to vote--and how far we have left to go--how many women CEOs are there in publishing? (As of last July, there were only two at major companies.) In the last few years I have read books like Lean In and When Everything Changed that address the women's movement from both a modern day and a historical perspective. They've made me think a lot about sexism I've experienced in the workplace and about opportunities for leadership that I've been reluctant at times to pursue. I love that we have an organization that offers a lot of leadership opportunities for women in this field, and also offers support, encouragement, and positive role models. I wish more women would join to experience this wonderful organization that allowed me to grow until I was comfortable with more responsibility, has provided invaluable networking and business opportunities, and through which I have met some of my best friends. I particularly hope that young women just getting into the industry or thinking about it will join, as there's no better time to start building your base of contacts and your leadership skills, than the present.

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