Friday, September 23, 2011

AMPA AGM 2011: Fond Farewells, New Beginnings

I’ve been to more than a few AMPA AGM's over the years—back when I was an intern, later as magazine editor, and then as AMPA’s incoming executive director last year. They’ve always had a great atmosphere, due in part to our watering-hole of choice, the woodsy and warm Rose & Crown tavern.

My Favourite People
The spirits did flow, but I also attribute the atmosphere to some of my favourite people: magazine people. I’m clearly biased, but those who work for magazines are, with remarkable consistency, friendly, creative, savvy and good hearted. It may have something to do with the need to blend entrepreneurial rigor with creative vision. There’s probably also a weaning-out process: who but the passionate yet pragmatic would persist in an industry fraught with low margins, long hours and tight deadlines?

Whatever the reasons, I’ve always felt at home with this group: the publishers, editors, art directors, writers, sales staff, interns, etc, of the Alberta magazine publishing industry. Which is why it is with sadness that I announced my departure from AMPA at the AGM.

Exit Stage Left
I won’t bore you with personal ephemera. I’ll simply point out that I was torn to stay, would have enjoyed it, but some big life goals will be taking me overseas.

It’s been a time for farewells. A few months ago, stalwart AMPA ED-on-leave Colleen Seto decided not to return from maternity leave, choosing the joys of motherhood and freelancing instead. Not enough can be said about how much Colleen has done for AMPA during her five years. Immense credit goes to her for building a stable, secure organization and helping to create this great community.

The next farewell was a bit of an AGM shocker, with Agnes Zalewski revealing her departure from June Warrren-Nickle's Energy Group, and hence as AMPA President. I can say that it was a pleasure working with such an enthusiastic board, and with Agnes's drive and clarity in particular.

Continual Rebirth
Of course, departure creates opportunity. Jenn Schmidt-Rempel of Lethbridge living stepped up to the presidency of AMPA. She definitely has the energy and entrepreneurial vision to take the association forward. My own successor was also introduced: Suzanne Trudel. Trudel comes well recommended as the former Publications Manager at SAIT, and I’m confident you’ll be in good hands with her.

We also introduced a keen, new member of the AMPA staff: admin and special projects assistant Rowena Cua. You’ll be seeing her at more meetings moving forward.

There were old and new faces elected to the Board of AMPA. Indeed, rampant enthusiasm to join—there were 7 people on the election slate and only 6 open positions—almost led to what would have been a first in my memory, a bona fide gun-slinging election with ballots. However, Agnes’ high-noon departure opened up a 7th position and we were able to continue the AMPA tradition of saving time for beer and noshing by acclaiming the entire slate with a show of hands.

The Board
So this year’s board will include:

Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, Lethbridge living
Lynn Fraser, Freefall
Brian French, Where Calgary

Tracy Hyatt, Westworld
Merla Thomson, Canine Review

[newly elected]
Joyce Byrne, Alberta Venture
Käthe Lemon, Avenue Calgary
Chaz Osburn, Alberta Construction Magazine
Steven Sandor, Avenue Edmonton
Rob Tanner, Canadian Cowboy Country

What Else?
Suffice it to say, membership is up, AMPA is in good financial shape and we’re working hard to provide the programs and services our members seek.

Beyond that, I’ll simply say thanks and farewell. AMPA is in good hands with Suzanne and a robust board of directors. Plus, Rebecca Lesser, who you all know, will keep the home fires burning—I’d like to thank her especially—for her dedication, insights and willingness to shoulder thankless burdens. Take care, everyone.
--- Andrew Mah
AMPA Executive Director