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Riding the Wave of Change

by Teresa L. Knott, AHIP, and Heidi Heilemann,AHIP, MLA Board of Directors

In February 2015, the MLA Board of Directors had their first meeting with the new MLA executive director, Kevin Baliozian. With Kevin’s leadership, we jumped into the deep end of the planning pool and rapidly identified four strategic goals for the association. The board was energized and engaged in plotting the course forward for the association. We agreed to set organizational goals as the board, instead of annually tweaking goals to align with the priorities of the president-elect. At our May 2015 meeting, we added a fifth goal. 

One of the things that was most striking to us at our February board meeting was that MLA’s technology platform was cobbled together through a bunch of different systems that were not interoperative. In addition, headquarters staff were using an email solution that didn’t integrate with calendaring software. This was resolved by moving the headquarters staff onto GoogleApps for Nonprofits. The hodgepodge of association management tools were unified on the Socious platform, and we are already experiencing improvements in how the MLA information technology platform can foster community and simplify the time and energy needed to maintain itself. 

Headquarters staff spent the summer consulting with various constituencies across MLA to populate and launch the new MLANET. As an association, we will be able to use MLANET to interact, collaborate, handle membership renewals, volunteer for committees, apply for awards, and register for the annual meeting. Chapters that are interested will be able to move their websites and these operations to MLANET, creating a more deeply integrated experience between MLA, sections, and chapters. 

Regarding Goal 1, the Bylaws Committee did phenomenally good work in essentially rewriting the MLA Bylaws to help MLA be more agile as an organization. They worked to simplify and clean up the Bylaws. They also identified material that should be in a procedure manual. If the membership adopts the new Bylaws, one big change is that the board will have more freedom to create membership levels and to adjust dues. Lest this worry anyone, the board is strongly committed to not raising dues for individual members for several years. Below is the picture that Kristine M. Alpi, AHIP, dubbed “Bylaws Joy!” It reflects the excitement that the board felt at passing the Bylaws revision last month.

Bylaws Joy 

Photographer: Kristine M. Alpi, AHIP

Between members, the board, and MLA headquarters staff, we continue to rationalize and refine MLA programs and services. Sections have the freedom to pursue new initiatives as programming at the annual meeting shifted to the National Program Committee (NPC). The board realized that more attention needs to be focused on special interest groups (SIGs). 

The Research Imperative Task Force is moving forward by developing strategies to improve research competencies for members, by developing information on the value of engaging health sciences librarians in health organizations and much more. 

For 2016/17, the board is taking a more measured approach to adopting new goals. Although we will continue to be mindful of technology, the technology goal will roll off the board’s priorities. As mentioned last week, we are considering adding a goal focused on MLA’s international strategy, which would address our international presence and how we reach out internationally, while considering what MLA can and should do to support our members engaged in the realm of global public health.

In reflecting on the last ten months, your MLA Board of Directors has been riding a tremendous wave of change that we hope will benefit the association for many years to come.

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