This week YALSA Board members are writing about their experience serving on the Board.’  This post is one in that series.

The unique thing about running for YALSA President is that, if elected, you will fill three distinct roles in three years. All of the things that Sara Ryan mentioned in her perspective as a Board member hold true, plus there are additional responsibilities.

As President-Elect you will spend the year working hard on making committee and task force appointments.’  This is no small task, but it is a great way to get to know many YALSA members.’  You will also be serving on the Executive Committee and have those meetings (including an in-person meeting in the fall), in addition to regular YALSA Board meetings.’  There is a lot of observing and learning during this year, as well as developing a working relationship with the President and Executive Director.

What skills do you need to be President-Elect? An attention to detail, a willingness to learn, and a good system for organizing your work.

As President you will be doing YALSA work of some kind every day.’  This is by no means a complete list, but here is a sampling of some of the things you might do in any given week:

  • work with the Board to discuss and vote on an issue
  • have a regular phone meeting with the Executive Director
  • have a phone interview with a newspaper reporter (or even radio or tv!)
  • provide a statement for the YALSA the communications specialist
  • correspond with a committee chair to discuss a problem that has come up
  • respond to an email or a phone call from a concerned member
  • write a blog post
  • make a replacement appointment to a committee or taskforce

A great way to really see what the year entails is to read past President monthly reports.’  Linda Braun has posted hers on the blog, and you can also visit the YALSA wiki to read hers, or even mine from last year. If you are considering running for President, I encourage you to read these.

What skills do you need to be President? It requires a high level of attention for a very sustained period of time. All year long you need to be paying attention, managing, and participating on a level that is significantly different from that of the other positions. Again, you will need good time management and an ability to juggle many things at once.’  You also need to be able to run effective meetings, listen and understand different points of view, and be able to build consensus.

As Past President you get to enjoy not being in charge, but having a wealth of knowledge and opportunities to share it!’  You will be a mentor to the President-Elect and coordinate outreach to all the Past Presidents and you continue to be on the Executive Committee.

What do you need to be Past President? For this year you need to be able to respectfully share what you have learned, but be able to give space to the new President.

To sum up, if you are interested in running for YALSA President you definitely need to be organized and able to prioritize and manage your work.’  This position requires an enormous amount of time, and you’ll want to make sure you have work/family support.’  It may sound like a lot of work, and it certainly is, but it is without a doubt the most rewarding thing I have done in my career.’  It is an amazing leadership experience and participating on a national level, with colleagues from all over the country, is always inspiring and educational.’  In addition to considering the things I’ve mentioned above, I also encourage anyone interested in running for this office to contact me ( or Linda Braun, or any past president, to ask questions.’  I know we’d be more than happy to answer them!

About Sarah Debraski

YALSA President, 2008-2009

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