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Ebrahimi Passes the Gavel to Baker

Tuesday, April 16, 2019   (0 Comments)
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Sherry Ebrahimi's term as President of the ACCED-I Board of Directors concluded at the ACCED-I 39th Annual Conference in Pittsburgh and she passed the gavel on to Mary Kay Baker. Mary Kay will serve as President through the 40th Annual Conference next year. Sherry has moved into the role of Immediate Past President where she will serve for one year.

Each addressed attendees at the 39th Annual Conference. Following are their remarks.


Sherry Ebrahimi, CCEP

What a Conference!  

I hope everyone here feels as motivated, excited, and invigorated as I do after spending a few too short days here in Pittsburgh with your extended work family.   If this was your first conference, I hope this conference is the beginning of a long relationship with ACCED-I and that you come back—to an Educational Forum, a Peer-to-Peer Conversation, a Drive-In, and to next year’s Annual Conference.  If this is your 2nd, 5th, 10th, or 20th conference, I hope you feel the same amount of energy and excitement as the others, and continue to share this experience with others in the field.

It has been a great pleasure to spend the last year serving as the President of the Board of Directors.  We have had a great year where we have begun thinking about what is next for the organization and the industry in the years ahead.  I have been fortunate to have colleagues that I have met through ACCED-I as close personal and professional confidants, and I am excited about who will emerge as these friends in the future.  The industry is changing, our roles often change on campus, but the one thing that is steadfast is this amazing organization.  I have a colleague on campus who left this field 20 years ago, and almost every time he sees me he reminisces about his days as a member of ACCED-I.

I have to take some time to give some thanks. To those of you who I have served on the Board with me, past and present, thank you for being a great colleague I have learned so much from all of you and serving on the Board has been such a gift for my own professional development.  I can’t begin to say how excited I am for the future of this group in the next few years.  I also have to give a special shout-out to Jim Hodges, my predecessor for Regional Director, Board, and Board President, and now Past President.  He has always been there for me and is certainly in the top 1% of people who get me and his friendship means everything.  I also want to thank Dan Dykstra, who is the colleague who introduced me to ACCED-I and answered all of my questions during my first year on the job.  I am so fortunate to have you as a colleague.

To Elijah - the most patient human being on the planet- thank you for always supporting me and listening.  I have learned so much from working with you, and I hope you know how much I admire you as a professional.   To Amber, the other third of the dream team, thank you for also being patient with me-as a new professional you came into the office during my busiest year.  You have an amazing talent for reading me, and I promise I will slow down when I need to now that I am passing the torch.

And most importantly, thank you to the staff.  The best part of serving as President is being able to get to know the people behind this great organization and conference.  Sandy Brock, our Accountant and Lori Everhart, our Communications and Marketing Manager, are back in Colorado holding down the fort.  These two women give the Association their all and you would never know they are part-time employees.  Jennifer Trumper, our Meetings and Membership Manager is often who you might speak to if you call the office.   Devin Shelby, our Director of Membership, and Diana Hakenholz, our Director of Meetings and Education, are also here with Jennifer and Karen, and have worked non-stop to make this conference a huge success.  They are both excellent at what they do, and it is such a true joy to work on projects, meetings, and initiatives with these staff.  Last but not least, is Karen Nedbal - the woman who brings the team together.  I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done this year, Karen.  Karen has brought a wealth of knowledge to running our Association and formed this dynamic team.  She has brought in resources for the Board and staff to make us better.  She is a fierce leader and I will miss our conversations—and she is such a professional, I am sure she will not publicly tell any of you that she WON'T miss our conversations.   

And now, I have the great pleasure of introducing your new ACCED-I President of the Board of Directors, Mary Kay Baker!


Mary Kay Baker, CCEP

2019 has started off pretty nicely for me…a memorable trip to Jamaica in January, three great days in Fort Collins spending time with the staff, and (for the handful of people who don’t know this!), I became a grandmother in February to beautiful Liam Jameson Connolly.  I can now add this opportunity – standing here at the podium as your new ACCED-I President - as a truly memorable moment.

I would like to begin by telling a quick story about a “friend” of mine – who shall remain nameless for now – this “friend” joined ACCED-I a long, long time ago (1996 to be exact) – and spent about 12 years occasionally dropping In on an Annual Conference, occasionally engaging with some of the other members of our organization, and occasionally peeking at the website to see what was new.  Let me just say – “occasionally” will not get you what you want, need or can benefit from the organization.  The light switched on for my “friend” somewhere around 2007 when this person decided to join a committee – but you’ll note it took over 10 years to do this.  The committee membership turned into being that committee’s chairperson for a few years, which turned into a board nomination and election, which turned into …..well, you’ve probably figured out by now, that “friend” is me!  And now here I am – completely and totally humbled to be standing before you as the 2019-2020 ACCED-I Board of Directors President.

Folks – DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, let this happen to you – not the presidency part – but the waiting for 12 years to become involved.  Honestly, some of my most important and memorable professional growth has resulted from my involvement with ACCED-I.  I want every single person who is a member of this organization to feel the energy, the enthusiasm, and the knowledge that can be gained from belonging and being engaged.    There’s an old saying (I’m old, so I can share old sayings) – “you get what you give”….this could not be truer in this situation.  ACCED-I is about participating and volunteering: participating here this week; participating in one of the Educational Forums this fall; volunteering to host a Drive-In meeting; volunteering to present a session; contacting your regional leadership and volunteering to help lead your region.

Go home and tell your supervisors and colleagues about the educational and networking opportunities you have experienced.  Tell them how much fun you had (well, be careful about emphasizing how much fun!)…… but be sure to tell them how much you learned – and help them understand the value of your ACCED-I membership.

Over the next year, ACCED-I will continue to offer more networking and educational experiences for you.  ACCED-I strives:

“To improve, promote and recognize excellence in the collegiate conference and events industry.”

I am blessed to be working with a board of volunteers who see the importance of ACCED-I and who fully support the mission and goals of our organization.  We will continue reviewing the offerings and services that enhance your experience.  We have been approached by a few members who have an interest in further developing affinity groups and we look forward to working with those individuals to further operationalize our statement on diversity and equity.

The 2019-2020 board is comprised of so many talented, committed individuals who I would like to recognize: Jason McClellan, Sarah Goodrich, Michelle Wu, Kelly O’Neal, Lina Layiktez,  Meghan Webb, Kim Araya, Heather Roden, President-Elect Cal Seelye, and Sherry Ebrahimi, Immediate Past President.

This dedicated group works to chart the course for our Association….but we can’t do this alone and we all depend heavily on the professional staff at the home office in Fort Collins to help make this happen.  These folks work tirelessly helping us move the Association forward.  I cannot emphasize enough the hard work and dedication of these awesome individuals – please help me thank Karen and her team – Diana, Devin, Jenn, Lori, and Sandy for their efforts.

Tomorrow, next week, next month will be the times to implement what you have learned these last few days.  Go home, work hard, and remember to use your ACCED-I resources – they are invaluable.  And…..DON’T be like me in my younger years – act now, do now, get involved now.  I promise you, it will pay off in both personal and professional ways.

I am looking forward to the year ahead and to seeing you all in Providence in 2020 – when ACCED-I celebrates its 40th anniversary!