For three years, Nancy Kimberly Holliman has made HASTAC happen. In July 2011, she came on as our first dedicated HASTAC team member, working half-time for HASTAC and half-time for the HASTAC-administered Digital Media and Learning Competition, sponsored by MacArthur Foundation originally, and recently joined by Mozilla and Gates Foundation. It's a big job wearing two hats--and Nancy wears about a thousand. It's a good thing she is a Buddhist, a meditator, a yoga instructor, and has professional training in mindfulness and stress reduction. Our nickname for Nancy is "Gets S[tuff] Done." Our joke is that, the few times when Nancy has been away on a silent retreat, is when the S[tuff] Hits the Fan. She returned one time to find out that Mandy Dailey, our equally astonishing Administrative Director here, had taken the winner of the kids' competition to the White House to meet the President of the United States. Really. That this child had never been on a plane before and had several extreme health/environmental issues that had to be planned for was, well, all in a day's work at HASTAC. Typically it is Nancy who makes the day begin and end efficiently, with good humor, and--how often does this happen in a work place?--with true wisdom.
Nancy is going back to earn a second Master's degree, this one in mental health counseling, with an emphasis on mindfulness training, paliative care training, and tending to the chronically ill, the infirm, the dying. If you ask any one of us at HASTAC who we would most like at our side during life's direst moment, I think we would all say Nancy. She volunteers in this role now. She exudes a wise, calm sense of centeredness even as she has the heartiest, fullest, richest, most engaged and free laugh you can imagine. The world is a better place for having Nancy in it. That she will be following her dream, attending graduate school full time to earn a degree and certification, and will spend the rest of her career dedicated to attending to those who need her most, makes us all happy for her, proud of her, and grateful for the time we've spent with her.
We're delighted she's said she would like to return sometimes as our "intern," pitching in some times when HASTAC is doing community-serving projects that are also near and dear to her. And we will stay friends. That won't change.
Running a virtual organization of 9,000 or I guess more like 10,000 now, keeping on top of activity on what Acquia (developer of Drupal Commons) says is the most complex and populous and active and interactive network on the World Wide Web, writing and keeping track of grants, and doing all the things we do as part of the cutting-edge of the cutting edge for the Digital Media and Learning Competitions, is an intense, exciting, ever-challenging job. We laugh a lot. We're in an open area, lots of cubicles without ceilings, and sometimes, I think, we amaze our neighbors--with how hard we work, how much we accomplish, and how often we share stories and friendship and laughter. It's really an amazing group, the best I've ever been privileged to work with. We really do believe in the "collaboration by difference" method, with each person having a territory, an area, a sphere of expertise and responsibility (grants manager, web master and media designer, community engagement, social networking director, HASTAC Scholars director, etc . . . ), but then, linking all our areas, constant conversation and communication. Everyone contributes. We learn from one another. We depend on one another.
And for all our happiness at Nancy fulfilling her dream, when she leaves at the end of July, we will all experience the loss. We will work hard to make sure that HASTAC and the DML communities do not notice too many misses, glitches, delays, and difficulties. There will be some, inevitably. But we will try to minimize those. What we cannot minimize is how much we will all miss a beloved colleague, a true friend, and a great and rare human being in this world.
Congratulations and good luck, Nancy. Thank you for all you have contributed. We will miss you. We love you. And we thank you for dedicating your life to something so special, rare, and important. You make us all proud.