Organizations, especially relatively small ones like the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum that engender long tenures among staff, are a lot like families . . . and close-knit ones, at that.
We don’t just work together, we get to know one another and we care deeply about one another.
It’s bittersweet, therefore, to share the news of administrative manager Shari Schroeder’s retirement at the end of September.
While I am thrilled for Shari and her family – and know that Woodson Wanderings readers will be, too – I am experiencing more than a twinge of blueness when I think about the Woodson Art Museum without her.
Shari represents a key piece of the puzzle that makes the Museum staff not only a productive whole, but also relevant in a multi-faceted and connected way.
For almost thirty-seven years, Shari has taken on increasingly larger and more complex roles, mastering a range of highly developed skills.
She has a visitor-forward attitude stemming from her initial position as the staff member stationed adjacent to the Museum entrance and to this day, she wouldn’t dream of walking past visitors without acknowledging them with a smile or a greeting.
Shari built on her easy-going interactions with visitors to develop strong relationships with Museum members, who value her resourcefulness and attention to details.
These traits translated beautifully to her many Birds in Art-related roles. From managing artists’ submissions and “holding their hands” through the Museum’s adoption of an entirely digital process to making each and every artist feel as though he or she is the most important – yes, you all are – Shari is truly a people person.
And, as we well know, people respond to people who care. Shari most certainly cares about everyone.
Shari also has been the Woodson Art Museum’s technology guru. She didn’t come to her original position with technology skills, because the assets we often take for granted today didn’t exist when Shari joined the Museum in 1983. She used an electric typewriter and still has one in her office. But she embraced new technologies with a positive attitude and adventuresome spirit. Never afraid, she’ll try a new device or a new program or even a keyboard command that most of us would be reluctant to attempt for fear of either crashing the system or deleting our work. Not Shari; she’s fearless and we’re grateful.
A salute to Shari would be incomplete without acknowledging her prankster alter ego. Remarkably, Shari can ingeniously mastermind a prank and then convince you that someone else did it. [I suspect there might be more than a few Birds in Art artists who are reflecting on what they just read.]
Consider this blog post the first of many tributes and celebrations of Shari’s unyielding dedication to the Museum, to our members and donors, to all visitors, and to her co-workers. She and her husband, Allen, will remain in Wausau and Shari will always be a resource, ally, and Woodson Art Museum champion.