College Art Association

CAA News Today

Staff Interview: Doreen Davis

posted by CAA — Nov 21, 2016

doreenIn our first staff interview, we spoke with Paul Skiff, assistant director for Annual Conference. Continuing in the staff interview series, we spoke with Doreen Davis, who currently holds the record for longest-serving CAA staff member.

How long have you worked at CAA?

Twenty-six years.

What do you do at CAA?

I am the manager of member services.

What does CAA mean to you?

CAA has many meanings, but the greatest meaning to me is that it represents the opportunity for me to grow, for me to share what I have learned, for me to plant the seed of possibilities and leave behind a bigger, better organization than the one I first started working for. CAA will always be the organization that challenged me to be better and to have the flexibility to make our members feel that we are not just an organization. We are their partner for as long as they are members, whether active or lapsed.

Can you talk about one of your favorite member moments?

One member was very dissatisfied on several occasions and continued to be very mean on the phone. Even after I resolved her membership issues, she did not say “thank you” but instead hung up. The conference was approaching, and I am usually stationed at the “Problem Information Booth.” I hoped and prayed that I would not see her at the conference, because she would definitely come to that booth. Well, I was not so lucky. She showed up and, after reading my badge, said, “Hi Ms. Davis, I am so and so. I want to apologize for my behavior—it was so unlike me. I was going through a rough period, but thank you for your patience and your help.” I responded, “You are very welcome, and enjoy the conference.” Whew!

What do you like best about the arts and working in the arts?

I love that art can transcend time, and if art is good it will last forever. I also love that we can have an unlimited number of interpretations of art. Everyone sees or hears roughly the same thing, but each of us has our own opinion of it. Our experiences in life help shape our opinions of art. No two people experience the exact same thing, so our interpretations are bound to vary. I love working for the arts because I see how my efforts positively affect people in need. Nonprofits are a great place to maximize your mental talents along with your compassion.

Do you have a favorite moment from the Annual Conference each year?

One of my favorite moments was encountering a job seeker who had an interview, but because she was not a current member she was not allowed in the Interview Hall to meet with the employer. I gave her an individual-membership brochure with an application and walked her into the hall. She took it and thanked me. I said to myself, maybe she will join. She came back later and informed me that the interview went well. I said, “Congrats!” I forgot all about her until a few months later, when she sent me an email telling me she had been hired. Because of that, she took out a membership!