11 Questions: Melissa Kay Walling

Meet the new director of membership development and customer service

June 18, 2019

Melissa Kay Walling

Melissa Kay Walling joined the American Library Association (ALA) Member and Customer Service Office on June 17, bringing with her nearly 15 years of association experience. Most recently, as vice president of education and membership at the Association Forum of Chicagoland, she led efforts to improve membership recruitment and retention by revamping external-facing systems. She’s also held positions with the Institute of Real Estate Management and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A former US Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, Walling studied business administration at University of Michigan and is pursuing an MBA at University of Illinois. At ALA, she’ll lead efforts to develop, implement, and measure strategic initiatives around membership and oversee a fast-paced customer service center.

Walling answered our “11 Questions” to introduce herself to ALA members.

Coffee, tea, other?

Coffee, one cup, every day, non-negotiable.

What’s the first website or app you check in the morning?

WBEZ Chicago.

Best career advice you’ve ever received?

“Hire for attitude.”

What drew you to librarianship/ALA?

I’m passionate about the impact that associations make in our communities, and ALA is one of the most impactful associations in Chicago.

Most distinct aspect of your personal office?

A favorite family photo from my mom’s 70th birthday celebration in Lake Placid, New York.

Guilty pleasure?

Fake Cheese: Cheetos, Hot Pockets … you name it, I like it.

First job?

Waitress at a Ponderosa Steakhouse in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

What do you hope to bring to ALA and members?

I will strive to bring the best of ALA to our members every day. I believe that associations should be what their members want, how they want it, and when they want it.

If you had to choose any other profession, what would it be and why?

I would run a bed and breakfast. I love cooking (no fake cheese involved), hospitality, and connecting with others who like to travel. It’s the best blend of some of my personal passions.

Book you’re reading?

The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah.

Tool used for keeping your life organized?

I am a list maker. Whether it’s the grocery list app on my phone or sticky notes at my desk, lists are the best tool that I have.


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