In a podcast during the 2011 elections, Sarajo Wentling urged YALSA members to get involved.’  Having been with YALSA for 13 years and serving on various boards and committees, our 2012 secretary certainly practices what she preaches.’  I had an opportunity to talk with Sarajo about her experiences with YALSA and her plans for her term as secretary.’  Here’s what she had to say.

What was your reaction when you found out that you’d won the election?

When I got the call from Beth Yoke telling me I’d won, I was super-excited.’  I’ve been serving on the Board in an ex-officio capacity for the last two years, and I’m really looking forward to having a more active role in both the Board and Executive Committee over the next three years.

How long have you been involved with YALSA, and what made you want to get involved?

I’ve been a member of YALSA since I was a grad student about 13 years ago. Time flies!’  I started on my first committee, YALSA’s Division and Membership Promotion in 2000.’ ‘  I knew that I wanted to work with youth, but it was the teen end of the spectrum that I was really drawn to.’  It seemed a natural fit, joining YALSA, to make connections and use the resources available to me.

You said in a previous interview that talking to Francisca Goldsmith helped inspire you to run for secretary. What was the best advice she gave you?

Obviously it makes sense to talk to the person in the position that you are considering running for.’  So, Francisca is (and I’m sure will continue to be) a great resource for me.’  I think the best piece of advice she gave me was just to be flexible. Good advice for anyone!

Since secretary is such a new office, how do you hope to shape the office for future secretaries?

I think that is something that I’m really going to have to figure out as I go.’  Hopefully, we will develop some guidelines and processes that will aid future office holders.

How do you plan to get the word out to YALSA’s members and non-members about YALSA’s resources and how to get involved?

A lot of this is done more informally through networking (both online and in person) but also by being a teen advocate in my own area and making sure to be a cheerleader for YALSA locally and regionally as much as possible.

Is there any message you want to give to YALSA members?

Get involved! There are so many ways to be active in YALSA… and it’s not just being a member of a committee, jury, or task force. You can join a discussion or interest group, apply for grants or awards, write an article or even a book. If nothing else, please take the time to fill out member surveys and tell YALSA what you think and need as a member.’  The organization can only serve your needs if it knows what they are.

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