A Versatile Leader Reflects on AIHA
She doesn’t remember the year, but Vicky Yobp remembers well the apprehension she felt as AIHA’s Leadership Workshop drew closer. The annual event would bring together volunteers from AIHA’s committees and local sections for leadership training, and it had always been one of the association’s most successful functions. But now Yobp, having recently been named AIHA’s manager of member services, was in charge for the first time. “I’d wake up in the middle of night sometimes, thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m giving a party for 150 people and I don’t know what I’m doing,’” she recalls with a laugh. “This was before it was a team effort, so it was really just me.” That the workshop was a success will come as no surprise to the dozens of volunteers who have worked closely with Yobp during her 21-year career at AIHA. She has been the staff lead for some of the association’s most important initiatives, and her broad experience—she has worked in nearly every AIHA department—has given her opportunities to contribute to a wide variety of projects. A UNIQUE UNDERSTANDING Yobp joined AIHA in 1994 as a lab accreditation specialist in the Laboratory Quality Assurance Program (LQAP), the forerunner of AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC. LQAP had more in common with a business than the rest of AIHA, with greater focus on the bottom line. When Yobp transitioned to manager of membership, the differences were disconcerting at first. “It was so different from the environment I was used to, because so much of what you do as an association doesn’t necessarily grow the bottom line,” Yobp says. “You do it for the good of the profession. It took me a little while to get used to that.” Working in LQAP gave Yobp a unique understanding of AIHA. Very few staff had hands-on experience in both the lab program and the core aspects of association work, and the responsibility for meeting members’ needs led to a deeper appreciation for what members find valuable. Working in the membership department, Yobp says, “you get to know a little bit about everything, only because you need to be able to answer members’ questions and guide them to the right places when they need something.” That broad perspective prepared Yobp for the next steps in her career: earning her Certified Association Executive credential in 2004, and assuming a role on AIHA’s senior management team as director of what is now called Professional Community. Over the years, staff reorganizations have brought various departments into and out of Yobp’s responsibilities. In its current form, Professional Community encompasses volunteer groups, local sections, the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation, and the AIHA Guideline Foundation. Yobp is also the staff lead for many special projects, including association-wide efforts such as the development of AIHA’s strategic plans. She lists her participation in the work of the Content Portfolio Management Team (CPMT) as one of her most satisfying experiences at AIHA. The CPMT’s role is to identify and prioritize topics around which AIHA should create educational products and services. The process for assembling the team included issuing a call for volunteers. Yobp would like to see AIHA use this process as a blueprint for future projects, since it helps identify new volunteers who might not have been on the association’s radar. “We have some younger members who are becoming movers and shakers in the organization, which is good,” Yobp says.
Over the next year, AIHA will say farewell to four senior managers: Mary Ann Latko, Carol Tobin, Aaron Trippler, and Vicky Yobp. Profiles of each retiree will appear in The Synergist prior to their departure. This month, Yobp spoke with The Synergist about the twenty-one years she spent in a variety of roles at AIHA. Her last day will be Dec. 31. A profile of Tobin appears in the November issue.
Having spent so much time with volunteers, it’s perhaps no surprise that Yobp would like to become a volunteer herself.
A SENSE OF MISSION Once her retirement begins in January, Yobp plans to keep busy with knitting, learning how to quilt, reading, and relearning to play the guitar. She and Rocky, her husband of 38 years, also need to decide where to live. They’re considering the Outer Banks or Hilton Head, in North Carolina. “The Outer Banks doesn’t make sense for so many reasons,” Yobp says. “The houses are all up on stilts. You’ve got the hurricanes, you’ve got the summer with the tourists. But we love being near the beach.” Having spent so much time with volunteers, it’s perhaps no surprise that Yobp would like to become a volunteer herself. She worked in a nursing home when she was younger, and the idea of spending time with older people appeals to her as “something that would make me think I was helping someone besides just me,” she says. It’s not difficult to imagine that this sense of mission is something that rubbed off on Yobp from two decades of working closely with AIHA members. “I’ve always been really impressed with the dedication they have to their profession,” Yobp says of members. “It’s not necessarily a profession—it’s a mission or a calling. They make it more than just a job.”
AN AIHA FAREWELL
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AN AIHA FAREWELL
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