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Looking Back & Looking Ahead in Seasons of Change

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Looking Back & Looking Ahead in Seasons of Change

by: 
Barbara Merrill, Esq.

Barbara Merrill, Esq, CEO, ANCORThe dog days of summer always evoke a strange combination of emotions for me. Coming from Maine, early August brings what most would consider to be the textbook definition of perfect weather, and having just spent two weeks in the Sebago Lake region, the crisp morning air made me feel nostalgic for summers gone by.

Just as we look back, August also invites us to look ahead. Those of you with kids are looking forward to back-to-school season. Those of us who don’t live in the northern climes are looking forward to cooler weather. And, those of us in DC are looking forward to when Congress comes back from recess. (Okay, maybe we’re not looking forward to it, but we are looking ahead to it.)

This year in particular, I’m reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the future for another reason. You may have already heard, but after more than 16 wonderful years with ANCOR, our beloved colleague, Marsha Patrick, will be retiring at the end of October.

Looking back, it’s incredible to think of all the Marsha has built for this association in her time with us. ANCOR’s corporate partnership program? Marsha built it. The Shared Resources Purchasing Network? Marsha built it. Our conference sponsorship program? Marsha built it. It’s by no coincidence that the world within which ANCOR operates today is miles ahead of where we were when Marsha first joined us.

But more impressive than Marsha’s outputs have been the outcomes she has helped this association accomplish. Her creativity in building the SRPN, for example, has saved our member agencies countless dollars, enabling more taxpayer-funded Medicaid dollars to be funneled where they belong: to services that enable people with I/DD to thrive. Likewise, her perseverance in securing sponsorships and pounding the pavement to build our corporate partnerships have brought many a fabulous keynoter to the ANCOR podium. And, if everyone reading this column were sitting in front of me right now, I’d ask for a show of hands on how many of you currently use a product or service that you were introduced to because of ANCOR’s corporate partnership program. Those of you who have your hands raised have Marsha to thank.

As you can tell, there’s so much to look back on when it comes to Marsha’s contributions to ANCOR. But whether it’s a coping mechanism or my own denial, I also can’t help but look forward. First and foremost, I look forward to hearing stories from Marsha’s big adventures, which I know will be more frequent and more fabulous in her retirement. I also look forward to how her legacy will be felt here at ANCOR for years to come. I just cannot fathom how we would replace Marsha.

So we won’t! Instead, we’re thinking of this moment as an opportunity to re-envision her role so we can expand on all she has built during her time with ANCOR. As much as we will all miss Marsha, we are also looking forward to growing the momentum given the strong foundation on which we stand. As such, we’ve started the search for a Director of Business Development. You can read about the position here, and we hope you’ll consider sharing with anyone you think would be a fabulous new addition to #TeamANCOR.

On a personal note, I am really going to miss Marsha. In my four years as CEO, she has been a commensurate professional, the epitome of collegiality and, above all, an invaluable friend. She’s extraordinarily conscientious, 200% reliable and simply a joy to work with. While I’m so happy for her to leap into this next chapter of her life, it’s hard to imagine not having her friendship and guidance just down the hall.

We’ll be sharing opportunities for ANCOR members to send their best wishes to Marsha as she leaps into retirement as her last day with ANCOR draws nearer. In the meantime, I hope you’ll congratulate her if you see her at the Policy Summit, and that you’ll let me know if you have questions about the new role for which we’re recruiting.

Above all, I hope that if you have a colleague like Marsha, you take a moment today to let them know just how much you appreciate them.

Barbara Merrill is CEO of ANCOR. She can be reached at bmerrill@ancor.org.