After serving as the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association's executive director for more than 12 years, Allen Loibner-Waitkus, MJE, will retire from ASPA following the closing of the 2018 ASPA Convention and Contest April 19-20, 2018, in Fort Smith.
"Allen has worked an unimaginable amount for ASPA for more than a decade," said Susan Colyer, president of the Arkansas Journalism Advisers Association. "I can't imagine ASPA without Allen, but I know we are doing everything in our power to find a new director who can fill his shoes."
In an Oct. 9 email, Loibner-Waitkus announced his retirement with the headline “THE REPORTS OF MY DEATH HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED”:
"The real reason it has taken so long for me to get this information out is that I knew when I sent out the first email of the year I would also have to announce my retirement as ASPA Executive Director.
"I knew that as soon as word got out that I’m stepping down, the rumors would start to swirl, so I want to be the one to make the announcement and explain it as best I can.
"As an Eagle Scout (seriously), I live by the campsite rule: “Always leave things in a better condition than you found them.” While all the directors who came before me did great jobs, and I can’t compete and would never write anything negative about them, I can speak for myself. I took over in the summer of 2005, and the 2006 convention in Hot Springs was my first. When I look at that convention and all the conventions that followed, I can say with certainty they’ve gotten better every year.
"I would be lying if I tried to take credit. AJAA Board Members, ASPA Officer Schools and individual advisers have really stepped up. Every year I work a little harder to make ASPA better, and they work a lot harder to make ASPA better.
"I have known for the past few years that it was time to move on and that I couldn’t keep pace with the twenty-something Allen I was when I started, but I couldn’t just walk away because much of what I do only I knew how to do. This year—because the experienced board members have helped pick up the slack and familiarized themselves with ASPA’s inner workings and because we have so many new, talented and exciting board members and general members—I finally decided that it’s the perfect time to pass the baton to someone fresher, more innovative and more capable than I.
"AJAA President Susan Colyer, MJE, will be forming a committee to search for a new director soon, and I will do everything I can to make the transition as seamless as possible.
"I can already hear people inventing reasons why I am stepping down. The board was going to vote to remove me as director anyway. I did something unethical and/or illegal. Things have gotten too “political” (I’m still not even sure what that means). The fact is none of that is true. I could write that I want to spend more time with my family, but many of you have met my family and know that’s not true either.
"The simple truth is I’m exhausted.
"That being said, my retirement date is the day after convention, and those of you who know me well know I will do EVERYTHING to go out with a bang instead of a fizzle. Don’t think for one second I will be phoning in this year’s convention in Fort Smith. The truth is I plan to spend every waking hour between now and April 19 making sure for years you’ll be saying, 'Remember Allen’s last convention? Wow! That was one heck of a convention! Whatever happened to him? I heard he is selling gold chains by the inch in a kiosk in the mall.'"