Well, I have put it off long enough! Sure, it was easy to prod my fellow Board Members to “tell me a little something about you” but now it’s my turn and I’m speechless! (I know . . . hard to believe.)
Plus, it’s not that easy to interview yourself.
Tell us about your professional life. I am the firm administrator of Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP and helped them open in 1999 but have worked with some of the attorneys at Murphy Austin for far longer. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology while double-majoring in Psychology and Peace War Studies. (I was kind of a hippie and had aspirations of joining the Peace Corps and then working toward world peace. You know, the usual.)
Neither of those things happened but I haven’t given up on those two goals. There is still time!
Even a hippie needs to make some money so I worked at temp jobs for a while and landed at a law firm in the early-80s. I remember walking up to the large, wooden double-doors and feeling pretty excited that I would be working at a LAW FIRM. Was there a drumroll too? Maybe a band playing? As I said, I was pretty excited.
I fell in love with the firm (which was Marron Reid) and met a few of the attorneys I work with today. I started as a temp secretary and word processor and found a regular gig there as secretary. I eventually left to stay home with my daughter who needed heart surgery at two months old. The doctors said she was fine after the surgery but I couldn’t bear to leave her so soon after surgery. (Don’t worry; she is now a healthy, 28 year old newlywed!)
After a few years as a stay-at-home mom, I entered the workforce again and, with a brief stint at a three attorney appellate firm in between, came back to Marron Reid. I was secretary to the managing partner for a few years before convincing him I could tackle the recently vacated administrator position. I suspect he promoted me because, as he likes to remind me, I was not the best secretary he ever had. (Probably because I taught him to put his own coffee cups away instead of leaving them in his outbox.)
I now have more than twenty years of experience as a legal administrator and consider my specialties closing offices (I’ve closed three – not my fault, I promise!) and moving (I’ve lost track of how many moves I have orchestrated but I have organized so many that I have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets).
Looking back at my college degree and choice of majors, I think they have definitely served me well as a legal administrator.
Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? I think I have to blame Cindy Harris for becoming involved on the Board! Cindy has since retired but she was in the same building as I was when I became a new administrator. She reached out and told me about the SVALA and was very helpful to me as a newbie. I have found the same kindness and mentoring from many other administrators and am extremely grateful.
I was an SVALA member for a while before being lured to a lunch with a few board members. The next thing I knew, I was working on the SVALA newsletter. That was back when we actually had to cut and paste and mail in a mock-up to a printer! (I cannot believe how old that makes me seem.)
I have served on the SVALA Board of Directors for several stints as Newsletter Editor and now Communications Chair with a stint or two as Board Secretary sprinkled in. I love to write so the Newsletter and Communications Chair have always been my favorite Board positions.
Tell us a little about your personal life/passion. Well, as I mentioned I do love to write and have written a few articles through the years on topics affecting legal administrators but one of my favorite topics to write about is my experiences as a caregiver. My husband and I care for my disabled brother, Robert, who has lived with uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. Despite this, he was able to live independently with family oversight until he was in his 40s. He was in the midst of a health crisis when I took over his care nine years ago and I soon came to realize he could no longer live on his own. It was a whirlwind education on health, caregiving and advocacy.
Robert is a delight to have in our home as he loves to declare everything “excellent” and even declares my meals “delicious.” Cooking is not one of my passions so let’s just say, he is being very generous.
Robert’s health has steadily declined through the years as a result of the uncontrolled seizures, numerous concussions he has suffered because of falls and due to the boatload of medications he takes daily. He requires a great deal of care and has numerous specialists on his team but I am grateful to have an employer who is flexible and understanding.
Caregiving reawakened my advocacy tendencies and I soon realized that not only my brother needed help but so did other caregivers. I frequently write caregiving articles for several websites and am a self-described incontinence expert. (Hey, everyone has to be an expert in something, right?). I am also in the second year of a partnership with four other caregivers (one of whom is my husband, Richard) to write caregiving tips books! We just released our third book and are very excited to see our little books helping other caregivers.
I am very aware of the challenges facing working caregivers and consider myself lucky to be in a position to help employees and partners alike going through similar challenges. The flip-side of that is I also have high expectations of working caregivers since we have so much to juggle and need to do so successfully.
Thank you for reading my “spotlight” (so much for being speechless)! I would love to run more spotlights on not just board members but also SVALA members. Please contact me if you are interested in telling your story!