In Praise of Melinda Lowy: An SDA Superhero
June 3, 2014
Find out how SDA members – and the textile arts community at large – have benefited from what Melinda Lowy has contributed to the mission and growth of SDA via these insights from SDA leadership team – past & present. – Ed.
Former SDA Executive Director Joy Stocksdale gives an overview:
SDA has profited tremendously from the many years of Melinda Lowy‘s service as SDA Treasurer and member of SDA Board / Executive Committee. Having volunteered her time to the limits of board service, she has announced her resignation as of June 2014. Many members have been touched by the improvements she made without knowing it or her.
After building awareness of the need for an active website manager, Melinda took on that new staff position in 2008. She was immediately put to work on small, nagging issues and quickly advanced to much larger projects. Her skills at tackling monumental tasks, understanding complex issues and efficiently and swiftly solving them set her apart.
Melinda assembled a website committee that researched solutions for updating SDA online resources. Together, they identified an improved email service provider to facilitate board communication and newsletter delivery. Under Melinda’s watch, the website was redesigned using an adaptable, integrated content management system that allowed the addition of many new features and functions. This process was major change and steep learning curve that she made as smooth as possible for both members and staff. Among many other enhanced website benefits, the new system allowed members the ease of online conference registration and payment as well as increased visibility via social media and an online gallery of their work.
Melinda also stepped up to take on the enormous task of organizing the website archive of SDA historical records and documents for access by board, staff and membership.
She took on the role of treasurer in 2009 while continuing to chair the Website Committee. With her guidance, we established an improved set of checks and balances and switched to online banking and accounting programs. She streamlined the compilation of year-end financials and projections for next year’s budget, based on a logical, systematic approach. She implemented many improvements I knew SDA needed but was unable to accomplish, given the daily demands of keeping SDA running during my years as SDA’s Executive Director.
Melinda Lowy has been an outstanding asset to SDA — always a step ahead; always suggesting new ideas. All this on top of her consuming full-time position at American Physiological Society, another nonprofit. She says she loves SDA and will remain head of SDA website committee while also shifting more focus to her artwork, which she had to let drop in the busy past year. No doubt we will continue to marvel at her ability to accomplish so much. Her great attitude made it a pleasure to work with her.
I wish her a bright future with many rewards (in whatever form they take) for all her hours devoted to SDA mission and function. Bunches of thanks, Melinda!
Current SDA President Jane Dunnewold reflects on Melinda’s service to SDA:
If I had to describe Melinda Lowy in 3 words, they would be Patience, Diligence and Humor. No one, in my experience, has worked more diligently on behalf of SDA than Melinda. She has worn a number of SDA hats – always paying close attention to detail, while slogging through tasks that would have undone any of the rest of us. I think her patience should be legendary, if it isn’t already. Never once have I seen her lose her cool! And that’s probably partly because of her wonderful humor – the gentle underpinning that makes working with her a pleasure. She’s managed to work effectively with a steady stream of changing board and staff members, and did so, again, with patience and humor. I feel lucky to have been able to serve alongside her in service to SDA mission and membership.
Former SDA President Candace Edgerley offers her perspective:
Melinda’s contributions to our organization have been with made with enthusiasm, dedication and careful thought. After the countless hours she spent working to build our website, I’m happy to hear she will continue as Chair of the Website Committee. I know Melinda will be missed on the board.
SDA Website Manager LM Wood shares the view from website mission control:
For that, we literally had to go through each and every member account – that’s 4000+ accounts – to make sure they were correct and up-to-date. It was no small task! We’d often chat via skype to keep each other company during the long hours we spent doing this crucial task.
I quickly discovered during these sessions that Melinda is an animal at processing and crunching data! I had a hard time keeping up with her. She’d pour through accounts while discussing everything from what she was having for dinner that night to a trip she took for work the week before. She can micro-manage the smallest of details while multi-tasking like no one else.
She donated countless hours editing, testing, creating, coordinating and monitoring many new and improved website functions. Specifically, she has helped build and test the streamlined “Join Us” process, conference registration system, online auction, marketplace, calendar – plus online presentations like the swatch collections and member shows.
Melinda is my SDA Hero. She is amazing to work with and has made significant and lasting contributions to the organization that will be felt for years to come.
SDA Executive Director Diane Sandlin reviews her collaboration with Melinda:
In the spring of 2012 when I became SDA’s Executive Director, I had only met Melinda through the interview process. Our encounters ramped up quickly as I realized that if I wanted to know anything about what was going on at SDA, I could get the answers from her. While her official duties included being on the board as treasurer and heading the website initiatives, those areas didn’t begin to address her sheer depth of knowledge about SDA.
Melinda has been a committed long-term member. When you hear the expression “someone put their heart and soul into a cause or group” – that’s Melinda. Never have I witnessed someone so involved in countless ways that don’t necessarily command attention, like constant website monitoring, checking for accuracy in the roll-out of new programs, handling on-site conference auction action while also inventing and moderating a virtual auction or scanning and organizing 13 boxes of hard copy files that arrived on her doorstep.
My job has been made amazingly easier with her advice and counsel – never ruffled and always spot-on. But it’s bigger than me. SDA is a much more solid organization because of Melinda’s vigilance. While she’s going off the board (darn those term limits!), I’m gratified that she will stay involved in key areas.
Former Journal Editor Patricia Malarcher offers her insights:
When I think of Melinda Lowy the word “versatility” comes to mind. She came to SDA with formidable talents and professional experience, and shared them generously with our organization. She seemed to move effortlessly from her initial role as Website Manager to that of Treasurer, but retained her interest in SDA’s online presence as Chair of the Website Committee. I was always impressed by Melinda’s ability to juggle a demanding full-time job, an active studio practice and her SDA responsibilities.
When Melinda joined SDA’s leadership team in 2008, I interviewed her for a brief article introducing her to the membership. One goal she cited was making the website more user-friendly. She said members were missing “things like being able to see each other’s work” and named an online display of members’ artworks as a priority. (SDA Newsletter, Spring 2008, shown at top). Today, the opportunity to show 2 pieces in SDA Image Library is a benefit that comes with membership.
Apart from business matters, I vividly remember Melinda’s appreciation of other textile artists’ creativity, especially in the area of clothing. During those shopping breaks in the middle of board meetings, it was always fun to see her excitement upon discovery of a felted or shibori-dyed garment that was just right for her.
Melinda’s dedicated service was critical to SDA’s continuance over a transitional time.
Thank you, Melinda.