Leadership Letter - Joya Nuruddin August 2022

As an undocumented person of color born to an immigrant family not fitting the model minority trope, I spent most of my life making myself tiny. I was told to stay under the radar and not ask for anything. I learned to do as much as possible without making any noise. I was taught to be grateful for every tiny opportunity and that I must never complain. Essentially, not to take up too much space. This left me yearning to belong to a community where I could be my whole self.

Looking for a career change, I found association management that I fell in love with. I joined NYSAE looking for a community, but I didn't get involved much for the first few years. After attending a few events, I joined a committee, but honestly, I kept myself from taking up space. Then one day, I received a message from a former board member, Bobby Blumenfeld. He asked if I wanted to be a part of a panel during an ExecConnect event. He got on the phone with me and spoke to me for a while. I don't think he realizes this, but that gesture made me feel like I belonged to the NYSAE community. That's when I let myself take up the space I deserved. Soon after, I joined the board of NYSAE.

Entering my second year on the board, I am excited to help create space for people in our community. I look forward to participating in the board's upcoming initiatives, particularly the Racial and Social Justice initiative. Our board is dedicated to nurturing an environment where equitable access is essential.

As women, especially women of color, we are so used to taking up as little space as possible that we forget that we deserve the same as anyone else. We forget how important it is for us to take up space. Let others see us and hear us. I hope you take this as an invitation to start taking up space in this community and any others you belong to. Make NYSAE yours and help us create a vibrant and diverse community.

Joya Nuruddin
NYSAE Board Member