By Susan Lesh
If you were at the Dec. 8 platform, you heard those words from Linda Bennett as she announced that David Bland is our new administrative director. I sat down with them in the Ethical office to talk about their transition.
Susan: Linda, you’ve been in this position for a long time—10 years! Can you go back to the beginning and talk about what interested you in the position?
Linda: I was about to retire. I worked for a benefits-administration company in Little Falls and wanted to do something to keep busy and active. I also wanted to bring in a little money to do some traveling. Liz Marcus was our previous administrative director. She got a full-time job in October, but she stayed around to help while we transitioned. I wanted to work for an organization that I believe in. I had been on the Long Range Planning Committee that created the position, so I was really interested in the responsibilities of the director to support our committees and the activities of the Society to help it grow and flourish. It’s been a guiding theme for me.
Susan: David, how about you? Why were you interested in the position?
David: As I was planning my retirement from Credit Suisse, I wanted something to help me structure my days. The fact that I am working for an organization that I am already committed to is a great bonus. I don’t think I would have taken such a job, otherwise.
Susan: We’ve been members for 18 years; our kids started in the Sunday School when they were 6 and 4. Can you talk a little about the activities that you’ve done here at Ethical?
David: Well, I’ve been the Platform Chair and the Family Programming Chair. I’ve also been a Program Council member. I’m the sound man…and I mean that I run the sound for platform and I’m a sound, or “able,” man. (N.B. David is full of these kinds of “dad jokes.”)
Linda: And you created the film series.
Susan: Yes, and a very successful one. Linda, do you have any suggestions for David?
Linda: I think he is very well-qualified for this position and I hope he enjoys it. I think if it gets to be occasionally burdensome, my suggestion would be to take some time out. There are people available to help, so all you need to do is ask. I would also suggest that having things ready for the volunteers so they can get the most done is really beneficial.
Susan: What did you like most about the position?
Linda: I loved interacting with and helping people. I was surprised when I started as the director how varied the tasks are and how many one-to-one relationships you develop with members who need help. I kind of view the position as a central one, with lines going out to all the members.
Susan: Can you briefly describe the position?
Linda: Well, it’s like the office is at the center of the hub and you hear things from members and you can do things for members because it’s at the center.
David: It’s the books of the organization, that is, accounts payable and accounts receivable. It’s also being on call, that is, being available. I know that I will run the Program Council meeting and that it is the general nexus for all the committees. I will also be producing the weekly announcements and the program for Sundays.
Linda: It also includes being the contact for the shared use of the building, like our main tenant, Rhymes and Reasons, but also for people who want to use our building. You’re also sometimes the first point person for maintenance issues.
Susan: And you’re one of the public faces of the Society. How has the transition been?
Linda: It’s been terrific. David soaks up information like a sponge. He has more computer skills than I do and he can pick things up quickly.
David: It’s gone really well. I’m happy. I have to admit, it’s a bigger job than I anticipated, but Linda’s not going anywhere, so that’s very helpful.
Susan: Linda, what are you going to be doing after your retirement from Ethical’s administrative director position?
Linda: I’m going to be doing everything that I was too tired to do and too busy to do. I’m going to go to the movies and have lunch and dinner with friends. I’m going to travel to Florida in the winter to visit my sister and sit in the sun next to the pool! And, maybe, I’ll be going to Portugal!
Susan: Wow, that sounds wonderful. It looks like this has been a good fit for everyone and I thank you both for sitting with me.
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.
Members pay tribute to Linda Bennett as she retires.