Letter from the President – Mary Mahoney

Mary with husband, Ken, at Neyland Stadium

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are having a good summer. Each year I look forward to summer getting here thinking it will be calmer and I can catch up on all those things I have been putting off or saving for “summer projects”.  Then June comes with freshman orientation sessions which everyone in our office now participates in and people are taking vacations and there is the NACE Conference, the Employer Relations Summit and before you know it fall has arrived and it is time to start all over again. When did our lives get so busy?!

I feel like I just started as your SoACE President but in reality my term is coming to an end on June 30. At that time I move into the Past President role serving for one more year overseeing Awards and Nominations. I have enjoyed serving as your President. We have an amazing organization that truly cares about its members. Everyone at some point should have the opportunity to sit in on a Board meeting as we debate, discuss, analyze and decide what is best for the members and the organization as a whole. We really can get intense sometimes as we try to make decisions that are best for the overall association and are fiscally sound. I am honored that I was a part of the Board. I appreciate all the hard work that our Board, Conference Committee and members who volunteer their time on various committees do to make the SoACE organization strong. Individuals from other associations have often commented on how friendly and welcoming SoACE is. It truly is our southern hospitality, and you the members, that makes SoACE special.

It is exciting that we will celebrate our 10th year as SoACE this December 10-13 in San Antonio, Texas. I was there for the first SoACE Conference in San Antonio, and it was a wonderful experience to see the blending of two organizations come together to create SoACE. SWACE and SACE were both good organizations, but together we became even better and stronger. I hope you plan to be a part of SoACE for many more years to come. Dust off your boots and cowboy hat and get ready to boogie or do whatever they are planning for us. I know Stephanie Saunders Bird (yes she got married!) and her Conference Committee are working hard to have a memorable Conference for everyone.

Thank you for being a part of this great association! I have enjoyed meeting many of you throughout the year and look forward to continuing those relationships. Have a wonderful summer and take some time for yourself!

Mary Mahoney
2016-2017 SoACE President
The University of Tennessee
Center for Career Development

Reflections from our 4th President – Eric Pearson

Ten years, ten years … I find it hard to believe.  During the last year of SACE I was convinced by Carole Schroeder, Director of the Career Center at North Carolina State University that I had a “story” to tell and convinced me to present my thoughts at the conference in Miami, Florida.  At age fifty-seven I was a rookie in the wonderful experience of the happenings at an Association of like-minded people.  Scared as I was, I love a journey, so I jumped on the bus to everywhere, and the rest is history.  This old man has a few foggy memories, but I’ll make an effort to share my exciting moments as a member and then becoming accepted to the Board; eventually serving on the Presidents’ succession plan.  I will say that those before me, after me and during my tenure worked hard and made my jobs along the way “easy as pie”.

After one year presenting and watching the blending of SACE and SWACE I was honored to serve as the Employer Membership Board member that turned into representing both Employers and College Members before my tenure was complete.  Looking back, I was asked to run for the NACE Board for the same position, foolishly thought I could do both at the same time and was quite fortunate to learn I had lost the NACE election.  Somehow I thought I could have served both boards at the same time.

Karen Thompson called me one day and asked if I would consider running for President-Elect.  Oh my, to follow Karen Thompson, Donnie Brown and Norma Guerra Gaier was a simple task because of the great efforts they served as Leaders before me.  Funny, I had to look up their last names to post this blog; I only remember them as Karen, Donnie, Norma … Everybody is family at SoACE.

We had our own challenges and growth concerns to deal with at the same time.  Everyone was so wonderful to me; however I must give a quick shout-out to Donnie Brown.  Not only did he demonstrate how a single-handicap golfer controlled his own destiny for 7,200 yards, he also mentored me through SoACE and my personal Career growth as well.  Donnie, thanks man!

Amid the “Depression of 2008” and the forced cutbacks in the University/College travel, our membership waned and growth was put on hold.  Employer membership slipped and we had a new dawn coming that became our challenge to return to brightness.

I have fond memories of Conference Site visits for three years with Ms. Toni McLawhorn.  I was fortunate that Northrop Grumman supported me and SoACE and afforded me the opportunity to travel that didn’t cost SoACE a dime.  Toni followed me in the President Succession and did a marvelous job.

We did have another tough time that required me to step up to leadership. This was one of the most difficult things I have ever had on my plate. After fourteen wonderful years with Donna and Skip Boyd leading the administrative role and other efforts, the growth and direction of SoACE required we look at other options for our Association Management Services Provider.

Norma did a fabulous job leading the initial search and negotiations and the day before we signed the contract, our selection out of Dallas decided they were getting out of the mid-size association business.

Norma handed me the baton and I finished the search with Toni and after some quick research, a last minute site visit over Christmas Holiday, we negotiated the first thee-year contract with CMC Global.  There we met Jeff, Dave & Corinne and the rest of the lean management staff in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Jeff and I danced, we negotiated, he gave and I took, and after Dave gave his marketing two-cents we signed a contract.  From there Corinne did everything and more that was requested by the membership.  If CMC Global had not been so giving of their support during that period of transition, I still wonder today if we would have survived as an organization.  Dave, you owe me bourbon for these kind words.

When it was my turn as Past-President to nominate the Officer’s Slate I saw this jolly guy from Tampa Bay with an accent from the Northeast who seemed to always smile and had been serving in several roles for SoACE and seemed to always have great ideas.  So, naturally I took advantage of a weak spot in his armor and convinced Tim Harding to run for President-Elect.  He taught me how to fish (though I lost my pole overboard) so I let him beat me at racquet-ball that same day.  He did a great job elevating the Knowledge groups to a level greater than thought possible making SoACE the valid and legitimate organization it is today.

My greatest pleasure and accomplishment was leading the board to recommend and to elevate the committee position of Diversity & Inclusion to a Board of Directors Position.  It was a natural transition for the organization and I believe we were ahead of the Politically Correct movements in this country.  I am so proud of the team we had who saw the future and made it today instead of waiting until tomorrow.

I was pleased that Northrop Grumman supported me in this endeavor and Sponsored the Opening Keynote on Sunday afternoon in Savannah so Doug Harris, CEO of Kaleidoscope Group to share his view on Privilege.  He had such a great time he stayed an extra day, presented a session on Diversity, went to dinner with us and missed his scheduled speech the following day.

I do miss the monthly blogs as president.  Those of you around back then might remember my monthly updates on my garden.  And … the monthly weight reduction challenge where I publically challenged and reported on the progress between myself and my great friend Roger Young.  I was at 248 and he sat at 242.  I spotted him six pounds and off we went.  I don’t think either of us ate the week before the official weigh-in at the San Antonio Conference.  Roger tipped the scales at 212.5 and I at 212.   Do the math and you decide who won; it’s a sensitive subject for Roger.  Since then I have maintained a rigor of managed eating and lot of yardwork; recently pressing the scale at 182.  Roger and his wife stopped by our new home in Kentucky this past summer and he has kept most of his weight off.  He admits lots of vacationing and loves to eat in his defense.  I’ll let him report his current weight; OK Roger?

There isn’t enough space to share all I have done since retirement in 2014, but let’s say I’m enjoying living on a little golf course in Kentucky and get more pars than bogies (I expect Donnie doesn’t believe me, having seen my game several times in the past).

I am volunteering for two organizations, continue to review abstracts and papers for ASEE, speak at NC State Minority Engineering Programs when I go to Raleigh and mentor hundreds of my former young engineers when they call or write.

Many of you know I published and give away copies of Ryan’s Stories – God’s Perfect Child.  I only have 200 left so I am currently completing my 2nd book and heading to the publisher soon.  It’s titled, The People You Meet in 1st Class is about forty years of flying around the country for business and pleasure; relating the stories of the people I met and some amazing conversations that have occurred when people open their heart to each other.  As with Ryan’s Stories I hope the reader cries a little, laughs a lot and enjoys the more than 100 true events I was pleased to experience.

I have reach the limit (perhaps went over) that Charlie Wilder gave me, so I’m signing off for now.