While preparing for the CLLA Chicago conference, I felt excited and curious about how it would be different from my first CLLA conference in NYC. I recently became an official member of CLLA, and was eager to attend this conference as a new member.
The CLLA originated in 1895, and its members are very loyal to and proud of their organization. My interest in CLLA began after The National List’s Gerry Cowgill announced her retirement, and I was informed I would be reaching out to commercial clients and jumping into the commercial law collections world. At the time of Gerry’s announcement, I was very new to NL and the industry as a whole. Gerry had been an integral part of NL for 25 years, and she had a loyal following among the tight-knit family of CLLA attorney members and agency forwarders. Now I have the opportunity to help firms grow their collections practice and be available to all, like the friend and leader Gerry was.
When expressing my nervousness over trying to fill such big shoes, a good friend and mentor said, “Just go and make friends, like I know you will.” That small piece of advice meant so much and stuck with me throughout the conference. I hope that I can give this same advice to someone preparing for their first conference, as it’s really the truth… Just go and make friends!
After arriving in Chicago, I stood in front of the Westin on Michigan Avenue thinking how lucky I was to be where this conference has been held for years. I had barely checked in when I was overcome by the warmth that I received from our valued attorney members and clients. The league is currently looking for growth, and especially for new members to continue the legacy they’ve built. I am excited to come aboard and be a part of this effort.
I was very honest with my fellow league members, and I introduced myself by saying, “I’m very new, but I’m excited to be a part of this league. I hope that I can be beneficial to the league in some way by being here.” This seemed to resonate with both new and old members of CLLA. I definitely felt a warm welcome and excitement from members who have been a part of this league for 30+ years, and new members seemed excited to go on this adventure with me.
For four days, as I walked between meetings, classes and events, I met many of CLLA’s loyal members. I heard stories of their amazing experiences withThe National List, especially Gerry, Jeff and Randy. I felt very humbled and inspired by how these same league members embraced me as The National List’s new representative. I definitely feel that I left my first Chicago CLLA conference with many new friends, new clients and even stronger bonds with people I already knew.
There will be many changes that take place in the time between upcoming conferences, and I am excited to be a part of this dynamic industry. I look forward to attending additional conferences, and I aspire to eventually become a true asset to the CLLA and to our industry, like our dear friend, Gerry Cowgill, my mentor Randy Nicola and my leader, Jeffrey Zuck.
by Kacey Rask, Account Executive
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