Jamie Sommer

  • Mentorship & Leadership Development Committee, Co-Chair, 2015-2016

President’s Letter

As my term as CALL president comes to an end and I reflect on the past year I find myself wondering how it went by so quickly, but also how we were able to accomplish so much in only 12 months. I have no answer to how we can slow down time, but I do know that our accomplishments are entirely possible because of the strength of our members. I was deeply disappointed that Covid finally caught up with me and prevented me from attending the May Business Meeting. I regret not being able to personally thank the Board members, committee chairs, and committee members who made this year such a success. Continue reading President’s Letter

President’s Letter

Happy New Year! Or perhaps Happy Lunar New Year is more appropriate as we are already into the 2nd month of 2022 but we are just now welcoming the Year of the Tiger.  In the zodiac tradition, the tiger symbolizes bravery and courage, and my new year wish for you is that this year brings you the strength and resilience needed to thrive during these challenging times. Continue reading President’s Letter

President’s Letter

Greetings CALL Colleagues,

As I sit down to write this, I see snowflakes in the forecast for the upcoming week, which means that the brief but glorious period of fall in Chicago is quickly transitioning into the colder, darker days of winter. Fortunately, it also means that the holidays are approaching and for many people such as me, this will bring celebratory gatherings with family and friends after a year of scaled back or cancelled festivities. Aside from the pure joy of sharing hugs and pumpkin pie, I appreciate the seasonal opportunity to pause and reflect on all that I am thankful for, including being part of this community. Continue reading President’s Letter

President’s Letter

Greetings CALL Colleagues,

We are at that time of the year where we feel pulled in two directions.  Trying to squeeze every last bit of relaxation we can into the final weeks of summer while also sprinting into fall, preparing for new students and new associates.  The tension between those tasks feels even more precarious this year as we factor in our “return to work” plans.  Are we going back to the office? How often? What will it look like? One thing we have gotten very good at over the past year is not only making plans, but also making contingency plans and maybe contingencies to those plans too.  The What Ifs loom large over all of our heads, which can be a source of stress, but I am choosing to look at this time as a source of opportunity. Continue reading President’s Letter

CALL Community Service Committee 2018-2019 Annual Report

Co-Chairs: Patricia Scott & Jamie Sommer

Members: Anne Danberg, Claire Toomey Durkin, Valerie Kropf, Nan Norton, Jamie Stewart

Board Liaison: Scott Vanderlin

Our Committee met virtually, via email, throughout the year to suggest, investigate, and choose Chicago-based organizations to highlight and collect donations for at our business meetings.  Different Committee members (noted below) took lead responsibility for organizing each meeting’s collections.  The following items and money were collected for the listed organizations at the CALL business meetings: Continue reading CALL Community Service Committee 2018-2019 Annual Report

CALL Community Service Committee Benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository

As has become tradition with the CALL Community Service Committee, this February we collected donations to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository. At the February Business Meeting, we collected several grocery bags of food donations and $203 in cash donations. Combined with the generous donations made through our virtual food drive, CALL members gave a total of $576.58. Why such an usual total? The food bank’s Virtual Food Drive provided an opportunity for donors to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy for the food depository to distribute through its large network of agency partners throughout the city. Donors were able to purchase items such as a case of canned tuna ($23.48), a case of 9 gallons of milk ($13.64), or 50 lbs. of carrots ($26.50). Continue reading CALL Community Service Committee Benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository

Leadership: Developing Executive Presence

Thanks to a generous grant from CALL I was able to attend the 11th annual Women’s Leadership Institute hosted by the Association of College Unions International, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. It was an impressive gathering of women working at colleges and universities all across the country who were interested in pursuing executive leadership positions at their institutions.

The conference began with an empowering keynote from Emilie Aries, CEO of Bossed Up. Aries is a former political organizer who realized at a young age that her frantic work life was not sustainable. She transitioned into a career as a leadership consultant and now advises women on how to establish healthy, long-lasting careers. Her talk at the conference focused on how to prevent burnout. Her initial advice was something that resonated with me and I think is common among librarians who see themselves as service professionals—Ditch the Martyrdom Myth. She urged us to remember that success does not require suffering. Aries reminded us that when traveling on an airplane we are all told to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others, and that is true with our professional and personal lives as well. Acknowledging that we still have bosses and family obligations that may require us to make occasional sacrifices, she advised, “Put yourself first. Not always, but not never.”

Aries keynote was inspiring and provided practical advice on setting achievable goals. You can watch her talk about how to set healthy boundaries and invest in sustainable long-term achievement in her popular TED talk, “The Power of No.” I also recommend following Aries’ column on Forbes.com.

Over the next three days at the conference we heard from a number of remarkable women on topics ranging from navigating organizational politics, building cultural competencies, developing a career strategy, establishing financial well-being, and assertive communication. The last topic was one that set this conference apart from other leadership events. Because the attendees were women seeking leadership roles, several speakers remarked on the struggle women face in being seen as assertive, which is linked to being considered a “high potential” employee, vs. aggressive, which is often a euphemism for being a b****. We discussed that in this country there is a mismatch between conventional female qualities and the qualities that are thought necessary for leadership. One of the most important ways to be perceived as a high potential employee and a leader is to project executive presence, a key theme that popped up in almost every talk.

Throughout the conference several presenters referenced Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s work Executive Presence, which analyzes what it means to have “executive presence”, aka to be seen as a leader. According to Hewlett, having leadership skills alone is not enough. You need to be able to project executive presence because how others perceive you is as important as your actual performance.

But what is executive presence? Hewlett breaks it down into three basic, but not entirely equal, categories: gravitas, communication, and appearance. Gravitas is the most important of the three pillars, but as Hewlett explains, also the most elusive.  It is often described as a “know it when you see it” kind of character. However, through her national study of over 4,000 professionals, Hewlett tried to learn what exactly that means. According to the senior leaders who responded to her study, the most important aspects of gravitas include confidence, decisiveness, integrity, emotional intelligence, reputation, and vision. The book is filled with examples and anecdotes of Fortune 500 leaders both displaying gravitas and the repercussions of failing to do so in times of crisis. It goes on to provide practical advice on how to exude gravitas, such as surrounding yourself with people who are better than you, being generous with credit, and learning that empowering others’ executive presence will build your own.

Having read Hewlett’s Executive Presence upon returning from the conference, I discovered that it reinforced the main themes from the Women’s Leadership Institute, and in turn, I highly recommend it to everyone. I’d also like to recommend some of the other readings from the conference:

The Women’s Leadership Institute was a rewarding experience, and once again, I am grateful to CALL for providing the opportunity to attend the conference.