Tory Ondrla, CMP, 39, works in Chicago as conference supervisor for Association of College & Research Libraries, a Division of the American Library Association. As a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree, Ondrla discusses her passion for the events industry.
What I do: I manage the logistics of our biennial ACRL Conference with about 5,000 total attendees and 240 exhibiting companies, as well as other meetings and events throughout the year. I facilitate site selection; negotiate hotel, convention center and supplier contracts; execute audiovisual and catering; and work with member committees to help them achieve their objectives for ACRL events. I see my job similar to that of an orchestra conductor: There are so many individual moving parts, and my job is to get them all working together harmoniously to create a terrific all-around experience.
How I got here: Initially, I worked for an association management firm on many different types of clients in technology, health care and manufacturing. I noticed the clients with which I connected with their mission were the ones that inspired me and where I found the work most meaningful. I sought a job with a nonprofit where I could spend all of my time contributing to an organization with goals and objectives that mattered to me.
My greatest career accomplishment: I recently finished our ACRL 2017 Conference where Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress, gave the closing keynote speech. She seemed impressed with the scope and production of the conference and thanked us from the stage. She was truly inspiring to all of our higher-education librarians and extremely warm and gracious, staying to shake hands and take pictures before and after the event. To be able to give that kind of experience to our members who work so hard serving their communities was a highlight of my career.