Erin D. from Pennsylvania, USA, has served as a WSO Trustee since 2019. She will be stepping down from the Board of Trustees at the end of her term of service after the 2023 ABC. In this interview, we learn more about Erin, her experience as a Board member, and her advice to members about serving on the WSO Board.
Q: How many years have you been in ACA?
ERIN: I first came to ACA in 1989 and, after a five-year hiatus, have stayed active in the program for the past 29 years.
Q: What WSO service did you do before applying to the Board?
ERIN: My service work for WSO started at the 2016 Annual Business Conference/Annual World Convention (ABC/AWC) in Florida, where the Delegate Training Subcommittee was formed. I continued to train delegates with ABCs through 2020. I have also served on WSO’s Operating Policy and Procedures Manual (OPPM) Committee, Addressing Predatory Behavior Committee, and Meeting and Service Safety Committee, among others.
Q: Why did you apply for Board membership?
ERIN: I was asked by a WSO Trustee to consider serving on the Board. That conversation became a life-changing event, a gift. Only days before I had a difficult interaction with a family member. It was a heartbreaking low where I had been scapegoated and told negative messages. What the WSO Trustee told me about why I would be a good Board member contradicted the exact messages hurled at me by this family member. At that time, I had no idea whether I would pursue becoming a Board member because I was so distressed. But the gift of this Trustee’s words boosted my confidence and sense of self-worth and inspired my recovery. I saw this as my chance to serve ACA at an important level.
Q: What was the Board application process like?
ERIN: The vetting process with Nominating Committee members was gentle. The questions helped me understand what skills I could contribute, as well as what things I needed to pursue further.
Q: What are your favorite things about being a Board member?
ERIN: I have been able to grow personally while serving as a Board member. It is a very nurturing environment. The Board is unified and gentle with one another and the fellowship. They encourage each other to speak up and participate. It is often said, the only dumb question is the one we don’t ask. Even if someone makes a mistake, there is never any shaming. They care about one another’s recovery.
Q: How do you balance work and Board service?
ERIN: I’m self-employed and work from home as an animal behavior specialist, helping people and their animals co-exist peacefully. When I started putting service before work, I had to make work a priority again. With the help of my service sponsor, I set a work schedule, set boundaries with my clients, and found a better balance between work and service.
Q: How do you practice self-care and have fun?
ERIN: I attend ACA meetings, listen to guided meditation, inspirational CD’s, and socialize with fellow travelers. I’m also an avid gardener; my backyard garden is organized into “continents,” each geographic area containing samples of its native flora. I love dancing to Latin rhythms, belly dancing, and dancing with my dogs. I love the outdoors and often visit the farm park across the street from my house with my dogs.
Q: How have you grown since being on the Board?
ERIN: I have grown in so many ways: spiritually, in self-confidence, in my courage to speak up and lead, and in my living the spiritual principles of the Traditions and Concepts. I’ve come to understand the importance of “curiosity over criticism,” which opens communication and brings compassion, both for myself and others. It’s no longer my reflex to take things personally, and that is attributed to working alongside loving, supportive service members.
I continually learn to let go of ego and people-pleasing. Now I place greater value on the group and group process over the individual. My rebellious inner teenager rarely feels the need to prove anything to anyone, anymore. This growth has helped me deal much better with my problematic family member.
With the help of other Board members, my service sponsor, and committee members, I’ve seen the ACA program in action and experienced how service with love takes personal recovery to a new level. There’s a miracle of transformation in giving back.
Q: What would tell others who are considering Board service?
ERIN: Do it! You can always change your mind. You can learn so much about yourself just in the application process. If you do join the Board, know your limits, know what’s not negotiable, and be willing to set healthy boundaries and enforce them. You will be supported in doing so. And stick with your 12-Step home meetings!