From the CEO: 9 questions with AME's long-time Home Team member Sara O'Hara

AME | April 25, 2024

This week, I would like to share an interview with our long-time AME Home Team member, Sara O’Hara. Sara has been with AME for 20 years and has seen many changes and innovations in her career. Sara is by far the kindest, most selfless person I have ever had the honor of working with — she always advocates for the other person.

Many of you know Sara in her role with the AME Champions Club. Champions Club members are senior leaders in continuous improvement who share, learn and grow with each other.

Sara O'Hara, conferences and events manager at AME

9 questions with AME's long-time Home Team member Sara O'Hara

Kim: Good morning, Sara. Thank you for taking the time to help the members get to know you better. Can you give us a little history of when you started with AME?

Sara: I started working for AME in September 2003 as a contract employee and was hired in January 2004. I was initially brought on board to assist in planning the Champions Club and regional events. I realized many team members were juggling multiple tasks, so I offered to take on additional responsibilities. As a result, I assumed various duties, including entering events, updating regional event information on the website using HTML code, assisting in the design and printing of event flyers, and managing the creation and distribution of event notification email blasts to our subscriber list. I created my job this way.

Kim: What is your earliest memory?

Sara: One of my first memories of AME is working with Pat Carguello, planning the Champions Club events. He was “wintering” in Florida, and we scheduled our calls around his time spent at Disney (and when he could access the dial-up internet). I also remember working with Sharon Halsey, and it was a cold, snowy winter for us in Chicago. Sharon told me that she was having an early spring and described the blossoming flowers. Pat and Sharon both helped make me feel at home at AME.

Kim: Describe your experiences over the years at AME. What you have done?

Sara: When I joined AME, our office consisted of five of us. The workload was diverse, and I found myself learning a multitude of tasks. From answering phones to aiding in accounting and membership, I even took on the role of the makeshift "marketing department." Additionally, I assisted the registrar with the task of manually inputting regional event and conference registrations, a process that required considerable time and effort. Countless hours were dedicated to printing and assembling conference binders, new member packets, and event flyers, all within the confines of our office.

Moreover, I've had the honor of collaborating with volunteers across various programs at AME, gaining valuable experience and insight from our volunteers.

Kim: How has AME changed and grown?

Sara: AME's growth over the years has been fueled by our commitment to leveraging technology more effectively. I’d like to acknowledge Desiree Dolecki, whose persistent encouragement and guidance have motivated our team to maximize the utilization of our resources. She always finds creative ways to improve our processes. Additionally, the AME Home Team has significantly increased engagement with volunteers at every level, contributing to our continued development and success.

Kim: Can you help us understand how AME aligns with your personal life?

Sara: Share. Learn. Grow. I actively engage in volunteer work within our schools, church and local community. It's a personal goal of mine to seek out roles that push me beyond my comfort zone. I firmly believe that embracing such challenges not only fosters personal growth but also enhances my professional development.

Kim: You have a huge fan club in the Champions Club membership. Can you talk about your role with the Champions Club?

Sara: Since joining AME, I've been involved with the Champions Club, a group that holds a special place in my heart. What truly resonates with me about this group is the incredible people I have the privilege of working with. I've gleaned valuable insights from past directors like Pat Carguello and Burgess Oliver, and now I continue to learn and grow under the guidance of our current director, Marc Kuzik.

The members of the Champions Club embody qualities that I deeply admire: passion, collaboration, diversity and inclusivity. Their unwavering support and respect, even on challenging days, never fail to make me feel valued. It's challenging to put into words, but those who have worked alongside me understand the strong sense of protectiveness I feel toward the Champions Club members.

Kim: Sara, would you share a little bit about you?

Sara: I've been married to Keith for 24 years, and I have two sons, Peyton (19) and Sean (12). Both boys play hockey, so most of my weeknights and weekends are spent at the rink. I love to garden, play board games with my kids, visit museums and go on road trips with my family.

Kim: You know we always like to share a fun fact. What is your fun fact?

Sara: Each year, I organize a backyard garden scavenger hunt for the children in my neighborhood. It's a fun activity where they can explore nature while searching for hidden treasures. As an added challenge, I offer bonus points to those who spot our cat, Ari, lounging around the yard. It's a delightful way to engage with the community and add some excitement to our outdoor space.

Kim: Finally, what is on your bucket list?

Sara: I don’t have much on my bucket list, but I’d like to become a master gardener, make a quilt, volunteer at Barb’s Precious Rescue and Adoption (for cats), and go to Ireland with my husband and boys.

Thank you so much, Sara, for sharing. I know I speak for the entire AME membership when I say thank you for all you do.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.