LLAW President’s Letter – Change is in the air!

Temperatures are falling and the trees have started their seasonal wardrobe switch. 


Autumn has long been my favorite time of year.  I could extoll the tropes of fall endlessly to anyone who dares to ask why, but the overwhelming reason is the beginning of a new academic year.  As a child, the fresh page of a new year turned for me each August.  I had no use for NYE or January, no concept of a fiscal year ending.  Nope, Autumn was the harbinger of the new year and brought with it endless opportunities and excitement.


As a career academic, I’m blessed to continue this ritual each year.  New students, new projects, new excitement fill my calendar for the foreseeable future.  Of course, with the excitement comes work. Lots of work.  August has become a flurry of activity.  With the return of students and faculty comes the return of deadlines and urgent last-minute requests.  It can be overwhelming, but I relish it.


However, I’m also a mother, a single mother of a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old.  Autmn means a return to school for them as well.  At the exact same time as my professional sphere energizes, my home life becomes overloaded with new beginnings and responsibilities.  New teachers, new routines, new fears, and forms (so many forms) permeate our house in the fall weeks.


It’s a difficult space, but I manage by budgeting my time as best I can.  There are days a writing deadline is missed because a little one needed focus and a cuddle. Sometimes, Barbies go unplayed with because a report wasn’t finished during working hours.  Difficult decisions are made every day about where precious time will be spent.


I make these decisions by listening.  I listen to the people around me: is this a need that must be met immediately? Or, can this need slide into the future, when I have more time to give?  Both at work and at home, I focus on good communication and hope I’m making the best decision I can at the time.


Right now, it’s time for LLAW to make some difficult decisions.  Recent economic realities have forced the Executive Board to take a hard look at the best way to balance our budget and preserve funds.  We’re exploring ways to make our money work for us and ways to increase membership numbers.  I thank Past President Amy Crowder for all the work she did last year to investigate the state of the profession here in Wisconsin and I hope to build on this knowledge during my term. 


While we do the work to increase future revenue, we must also make choices based on our current economic state.  This will require reduced funding for many of our committees, including grants and programming.  But we want to budget our resources in the best way possible, so now is the time to listen.


We want to hear from you, our members! How would you like to see membership fees spent? Are you benefiting from programming? Have you received a grant that made a difference in your professional development? 


We created a survey to gauge the priorities of our membership and I’d be grateful if everyone responded. I know this is a busy time and I hate to add to it, but acting unilaterally is the folly of success and we are invested in seeing LLAW succeed now and in the future.  The survey is available here: https://go.wisc.edu/xzi3sx . Please complete the survey by Wednesday, September 20th. After the Executive Board reviews the responses, we will finalize the 2023-2024 budget, providing funding to committees in line with member preferences.  We also plan to use the information for strategic planning.  The survey is less than 10 questions and won’t take long to complete, we know your time and voices are important!


I hope to see you at this Thursday’s meeting; the Programming Committee has arranged an important session on managing stress and workplace burnout, a topic affecting us all.  Personally, I know I will benefit from the session.


We began last year by celebrating our 40th anniversary, what an accomplishment.  By standing on this strong foundation, we begin this year by listening to your goals for the future.  Please take the time to share these goals with us.


Liz Manriquez

LLAW Chapter President 2023-2024