ARHE Spotlight: Louise Irizarry
Next in our Spotlight series, we are honored to feature Louise Irizarry, our business manager. Louise tells us about her experiences with ARHE back in the early days, how she has seen it evolve, and what she is most proud of.
How did you first start working for ARHE?
Louise: I was working for one of the founding members of ARHE and they needed someone to help develop a payment form to collect membership payments. The website that was originally developed was very primitive and nobody had a resource to figure out how to make a payment form. This was back in early 2013. I think there were some students out of Texas Tech helping, but it wasn’t working out, so I was drafted in to help out.
What do you remember about the early days of the Association?
Louise: There were only two members. I was doing all the administrative work, for about five hours a month. I helped build a website with a person who worked for a larger firm building and maintaining websites. I had built the website and then he developed a new one. This was our first logo:
Here is the landing page:
What was most of your time spent doing in terms of work?
Louise: Sort of the same except the financials: I updated the website, processed memberships, and answered inquiries. Initially, it was only five hours a month, but I now work around 25 hours a week. I love every moment of it.
How have you seen things change over the years?
Louise: There has been tremendous growth! Originally I worked out of a small blue folder that had everything in it. I remember the blue folder because I still have it and every once in a while I go back to it. Now I have a full file cabinet and about 40-plus (blue) folders. I have watched the board grow, and we now have the fourth elected president with the fifth on deck. I watched them hire their first executive director, Tim, who is actually my boss now and I have followed all the amazing directions he has taken us.
What do you spend your time working on now?
Louise: I spend my time pretty much the same way, only 100 times more on each task, such as processing memberships, updating the website, and now bookkeeping. I was instrumental in developing the accounting system, so I take care of all the financials on the back end. Our current treasurer is then able to drill down and present it to the board. It was funny when the treasurer came on — he was the first that had any type of financial background and asked me if I could give him the profit and loss statement and the balance sheet. I told him we didn’t have one, and we didn’t have an accounting system. It was a good laugh, but that changed quickly! It was good that I had that hidden skill set and was able to jump right in.
What is one thing you would like ARHE members to know?
Louise: We are very dedicated people behind the scenes. We work all hours and are always looking at ways to make our Association better for members. Sometimes the ED and I are texting each other at midnight tagging off on work-related items. That may seem extreme, but I really enjoy my work with ARHE, so in a way it isn’t like work for me. While it isn’t my own business, I feel like it is at times because I have been here since pretty much the beginning of time.
What are you most proud of with your work at ARHE?
Louise: Proud moments? That is a hard question. I am proud that ARHE has been able to rely on me, that I have various skills sets that I have been able to utilize for them. I think I am proud of all the tasks I do for ARHE. I basically have built all their administrative processes myself as far how they are processed and maintained. I think the website also is a proud point for me.
We are on our third webmaster — however, if there is a problem with the website, I take it personally. I will be up all hours of the night making sure we are working hard to get it up and running. Our website is basically our face to ARHE. It is sort of my baby. I watched it grow up to where it is today and I coddle it to make sure it is happy. It is very stressful to me when I see it down because you know it is my baby. I am also proud of the accounting system I developed. I don’t think many board members realize that I put that together. Nobody on the board four years ago knew that I had that skill set, and I am happy I was able to develop it using Quickbooks.
How do you spend your time outside of ARHE?
Louise: I think our ED will agree with this statement: I am a workaholic and I work far too much, but when I do try and balance my time. I like to make cards. The guest room in my home is set up with all my card-making stuff and I have fun being creative. I also volunteer for an animal foster rescue agency, so at times I will have two foster puppies or two foster kittens at my home. I have an 18-year-old daughter. ARHE is a household word for her. She understands how committed I am to them, as she was only 10 when I started working for them.