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Bulletin, April/May 2010

Mentoring, Energy and Passion: Key Leadership Ingredients for ASIS&T

by Cassidy R. Sugimoto

It was my great honor to receive the 2009 James M. Cretsos Leadership Award. I did not have the fortune of meeting Mr. Cretsos, but many of the ASIS&T members he mentored have told me of the generosity and passion with which Jim participated in ASIS&T. Grateful for the mentoring Jim provided, these members have in turn mentored younger members of the Society. I believe these mentoring chains serve a critical function within the Society, and I am particularly grateful for all those who had mentored me. 

Perhaps my most important mentor was the one who first brought me to ASIS&T, Barbara Wildemuth. Barbara approached me one day when I was a master’s student at UNC and asked me if I were a member of ASIS&T. Within five minutes, not only had I agreed to join ASIS&T, but I had also agreed to attend the upcoming Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting proceeded in similar fashion – within 24 hours after arriving at the meeting I found myself a member of the membership committee and in charge of various subcommittees and programming tasks. 

I brought the energy of the Annual Meeting back home with me and began working with other ASIS&T members to start a regional chapter for North and South Carolina so that we could keep the momentum going. Once established, I found that the chapter was able to do two things: it kept the local ASIS&T community engaged in a dialogue throughout the year, and it allowed us to promote ASIS&T to other information professionals in the area. These two things are goals to which I believe all ASIS&T initiatives should aspire.

As the new chair of SIG/ED, I hope to find ways in which the SIG can also perform these functions. SIGs do an outstanding job of bringing together the subcultures of ASIS&T and putting together fabulous programming for the Annual Meeting. However, I believe they can do more in terms of engaging members throughout the year and promoting ASIS&T to the larger community.

A professional organization is able to provide direct value to its members through networking and knowledge exchange activities. However, as Cretsos wrote [1], membership in a professional society also carries with it a “professional responsibility” to engage as members of this profession and this Society. President of ASIS&T, Gary Marchionini, issued a “participation challenge” to the members of ASIS&T in which he asked members to “think and act beyond local and annual meetings… [reach] out to help inform and educate the populace about the principles and practices of information science… [recruit] and [mentor] new information professionals and [accept] leadership positions that give back to our Society and the field” [2]. 

One of the things I love most about ASIS&T is how easy it is to get involved and take action. During my time in ASIS&T, I have found very little trouble in beginning new initiatives. I have found the members eager and willing to try new things, to take a chance, to improvise. People have heartily encouraged and supported me in all of my endeavors, and I think this is what makes ASIS&T great. ASIS&T is ready to support any member who chooses to be a leader, in ways both small and large. A society that is led by all of its members, rather than a few, will be dynamic, flexible and lasting. In ASIS&T, everyone can be a leader – a little bit of energy and passion can go a long way here.

[1] Cretsos, J.M. (1976). Scientific freedom and responsibility. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 27(4), 211-212.
[2] Marchionini, G. (2009). Marchionini Participation Challenge. Bits [ASIS&T blog]. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from

Cassidy R. Sugimoto is an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science, University of Indiana, Bloomington. She can be reached by email at sugimoto<at>