Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : May 2006

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Claiborne Marks 20 Years with MSBA

Wanda A. Claiborne's work as MSBA Director of Meetings & Bar Liaison is always visible, even when Claiborne herself isn't. The chief architect and engineer behind the scenes of such staple MSBA events as the Annual and Mid-Year Meetings, Professionalism Course and the Bar Presidents Conference, Claiborne marked her twentieth anniversary with MSBA on April 3, 2006.

"Wanda demonstrates a strong drive to make sure every detail is accomplished for her responsibilities with the MSBA's major meetings and the professionalism courses," says MSBA Executive Director Paul V. Carlin. "Our mantra has always been to serve our members, and Wanda has certainly personified that goal on a daily basis for 20 years. I am so proud of how Wanda has developed into a seasoned professional since she began in 1986."

Claiborne first joined the MSBA staff that year as Office Clerk following her graduation from Morgan State University, where she earned a degree in communications. She soon put her educational background to work by filling the post of Communications Assistant. But when she changed tack by becoming Meetings Manager when the position opened up, Claiborne's future course with MSBA was set.

"She applied herself so conscientiously and performed her job so well that I was able to elevate her to a Director position in 1993," notes Carlin, whose efforts Claiborne herself lauds as being fundamental to her progress.

"Paul has been very supportive and encouraging when it comes to my professional growth," explains Claiborne. "[He] has nominated me for things like the Diversity Program, sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives, and the Board of Directors for the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE)."

To be sure, NABE has honored Claiborne with various certificates and awards, including its Outstanding Service Award, Partners in Success Award, and Dedicated Service as Chair of the Meetings, Seminars & Events Forum. More recently, Claiborne was elected President of the Chesapeake Chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association, an international non-profit association of meetings industry professionals.

Claiborne, however, finds her greatest personal rewards much closer to home. "The most rewarding things have been the countless members that I now call friends," she explains. "[Also], the [MSBA] staff is second to none. We are more like family here than co-workers; that's why so many have been here so long."

Whether implementing new technologies or tweaking program details, Claiborne has made numerous changes and improvements to MSBA's meetings and programs schedule. "For every upcoming meeting, Wanda continually seeks to improve on the procedures and processes; that allows every successive meeting to be better than the last," notes Carlin.

Claiborne's own assessment, however, is tempered with a pragmatism two-decades in the making. "Twenty years has taught me that perfection really does not exist, and not to sweat the small stuff," she explains. "I genuinely care about the success of every meeting, as well as the members that it caters to, but at the end of the day, knowing I have given it my best had to outweigh thinking that perfection exists."

"But," she acknowledges, "it's still nice to reach for it!"

"Her life and giving outside the office equal her efforts for the MSBA," adds Carlin. To be sure, at the end of the day, Claiborne is an active and devoted mother to her two sons, Alonzo and London.

"My children's lives and schedules are extremely important to me, and there is a delicate balance between them and work. It took a while to get there, but I finally think I have it all down pat."

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: May 2006

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