Strategizing, Speaking, Snacking!: Assessing My First Year On The Job At Americans United.

Author:Laser, Rachel K.
Position:PERSPECTIVE - Essay

So, it's my one-year anniversary at Americans United already? No way!

But it's true. And it caused me to reflect on a favorite saying my husband and I have about raising our kids, now young adults (17,19 and 21): The days are long, and the years are short.

With no offense to my kids intended, the days and year both have felt short at AU, and I continue to feel lucky to work every day on a critically important issue with a supportive and dedicated Board of Trustees, an amazingly talented staff and such wonderful members. Elsewhere in this issue, you will find a Q&A about my first year, but here I wanted to do a partial steal of David Letterman's old routine--my "Top Five" list of my first-year achievements. I hope you enjoy!

I built a roadmap because Google Maps wasn't doing the trick. Cognizant of the challenges and opportunities concerning separation of religion and government in America today but also our realistic limits given our budget and size, I arrived on the job knowing that AU needed to have the most strategic and focused game plan possible to fulfill our mission in this critical moment.

To that end, I initiated a strategic planning process with both the board and senior staff with the goal of crafting a five-year roadmap, replete with benchmarks. Along the way, we have engaged AU's National Leadership Council, chapter leaders, other staff members and many of our allied organizations.

I made new friends but kept the old. I am perhaps most proud of the fact that I have both hired amazing new people and kept our hugely talented senior staff in place. Tali Israeli joined us last fall as our vice president for strategic communications, and Sarah Gillooly is starting this month as our vice president for state outreach and engagement (the new name for our former Field Department). They join seasoned staffers such as Legal Director Richard B. Katskee; Maggie Garrett, vice president for public policy; Rob Boston, senior adviser and editor of Church & State; Chris Colburn, chief operating officer; Mike Smoot, chief financial officer and David Morris, a key person on our new State Outreach and Engagement team. They're all hugely engaged and as fierce as ever leading on our issues as ever.

I spoke truth to power. I had the opportunity to speak in front of the U.S. Supreme Court about Masterpiece...

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