MSA Member Dispatches from Home: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
September 14, 2020
By David Duddy, MSA Interim Executive Director
How I spent my summer vacation...
Like many of you – it was certainly not lolling on a beach with a thriller novel! The pandemic changed ALL the rules of life, almost overnight. Working from home, staying at home, Zooming from home – all new features of the Summer of 2020.
In mid-April, I got a call. Susan Tudor, who was meant to be ending her term as MSA Board President, reached out to me with the terrible news that MSA had to cancel MSA FORWARD in Cleveland. The Governor of Ohio had banned large public gatherings – and that meant no conference. The Board had also come to an agreement with our management firm that we would bring our contract with them to a close. A savings – yes. But there would be a huge amount of work to do to keep MSA going, provide vital services and communications to Members, and create a workable plan for a very uncertain future. Would I be willing to help out? Of course. Would I be willing to take on the role of Interim Executive Director?? I had to think about that a bit. I had been a Member for 25 years, had served as a Chapter Officer, and had spent a number of years on the national Board – including a term as President. But – I hadn’t been closely involved with MSA for a few years, having taken on a largely administrative post at my museum. That had recently come to an end – so I had some time on my hands. I had never said “no” to MSA before – why begin now? I agreed – but said that my skill set with IT was not broad – so, as long as I wasn’t responsible for too much tech, I should be fine…
Well… time for summer school! I had to learn:
- more about Zoom
- a great deal about the platform for our brand-new website on DNN
- utilizing Survey Gizmo
- Blue Pay payments platform
- Authorize.net payments platform
- the YM database for our membership info
and a few other tech nuggets along the way! I learned a lot (not enough!) – but, more importantly, I learned to tackle all of these things because I HAD to. If MSA was going to survive and thrive – it was all shoulders to the wheel. The Board and its many volunteer committees put in countless hours to ensure that MSA would continue to function – and the serving Board members remained in place for 4 extra months to provide continuity as we re-jiggered almost everything.
What did we accomplish? New bank accounts, new resources for our database, new website. We processed many refund payments to attendees to the cancelled conference and welcomed many thoughtful donations. There were many planning meetings via Zoom, group meetings via Zoom, webinars via Zoom – obviously, a new tool and a new trend. We put together a virtual party/business meeting on Zoom – “From Gavel to Gala” – attended by hundreds of members and providing us with the opportunity to recognize the many achievements of our diverse community. We made plans for a new partnership to create a B2B platform called MSA Marketplace on our new website to enable buyers and vendors to keep the merchandise flowing.
Wait – Learn, Connect, Do Business? Sound familiar? These are the tenets that underpin all that MSA delivers to its Members. Most of us would not have opted to move almost entirely to a virtual way of living – but we are also a flexible and resourceful community that adopts a new tool or trend – and makes it work for us.
I didn’t plan on going to summer school – but my summer was certainly the richer for it. I may not have improved my IT skills tremendously – but I learned to be more open to learning things that I found pretty daunting. The future for all of us is daunting indeed – but resilience may be the most important tool we keep on hand.
Very shortly, there will be a new Executive Director for MSA – and I will be happy to welcome and support them when they arrive. I am hoping to find a new position for myself that is a bit more personal, and a lot less virtual! I find I am not quite ready to move my entire endeavor onto my laptop.
David Duddy has been a member of MSA for over 25 years, throughout his time at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. At deCordova, he was Director of Retail Operations, then Deputy Director of Operations for the Museum. He has served as a Chapter Officer for MSA and spent a number of years on the National Board, including as President. He was one of the authors of the original Knowledge Standards. Most recently, he has been volunteering for MSA as Interim Executive Director.