I'm going to tell you the story behind our cover this month, because it demonstrates so well the tough balancing act that busy association meeting professionals face every day.

Mary Pat Cornett, CMP, managing director of meetings, conventions, and travel for the American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Va., who is featured in the lead of the article on work-life balance (page 12), was incredibly enthusiastic when we approached her about being on the cover.

“Thanks for the opportunity — pretty much once in a lifetime, I'd presume!” she wrote in our first e-mail correspondence. When we finally connected by phone, she was extraordinarily flexible, suggesting we do the shoot at her home on an upcoming Monday, squeezing in the photo session during the mad rush just before a big meeting, in this case ADA's Community Volunteer Leadership Conference & Annual Meeting. She planned to be home with her kids, Amy, 16, and Chris, 12, who had the day off but were predictably blasé about her being on the cover or being part of the cover photo themselves.

The day of the shoot arrived, and Sharon Carlson, my art director, and I received an e-mail from Mary Pat. The shoot went well, but she had been at the emergency room with her son, who had suffered a concussion the night before. “We were at the hospital until 2:30 a.m.,” she wrote. “Just an example of the type of work-life challenges I mentioned in the interview. He will be fine — but he needs to rest. Needless to say, my kids were not in the pictures. They were asleep.”

I imagined how she might have felt if, instead of having scheduled a photo shoot, she had been rushing to the airport to catch a plane for that all-important off-site meeting, or to hours of office-based meetings. No matter what the day brought, I suspect Mary Pat would have been the picture of professionalism and good humor.

But then I realized: Balance is baloney. Successful professionals have to figure out a way to deal with both work and home in order to survive, with the balance sometimes tipping more heavily one way or the other.

I also know that Mary Pat, and so many of you like her, find soul satisfaction through your work. When that dissipates and the regrets take over, it's time to move on. But if you've found your life's work, as so many women — and men — who work for associations have, you just figure out how to make it all work. It's like being a parent: No book in the world can teach you how to be loving and caring. Somehow the rest just falls into place.

New Editor of AM Announced!

I'm pleased to tell you about another strong and successful woman who will be appearing on this page regularly: Sue Pelletier has been named the new editor of Association Meetings. She has been with The Meetings Group for more than eight years, most recently as executive editor of sister magazine Medical Meetings. Please welcome Sue (spelletier@meetingsnet.com) and let us know how we can make our coverage of your busy world even better.
Betsy Bair, Editorial Director