Leadership and Management Development Community

Leadership Lessons from a SLA Community President

By Dan Bostrom posted 08-25-2020 17:01

Leadership Lessons from a SLA Community President
By Leigh Milligan

My name is Leigh Milligan and I have been the president of the SLA Philadelphia Community for the last two years. Being the president of SLA Philly has been such a fulfilling experience for me, gaining networking connections from all the communities throughout SLA as well as gaining the leadership experience I need to excel at my job. I am happy to share my experience, what I have learned and tips and tricks for future leaders.

Becoming president of the Philadelphia chapter came at the best time for me. I was just promoted to Team Lead at my job and was taking on leadership training so both of these experiences went hand in hand with each other. It was also an exciting time for our community as we were celebrating our 100th year centennial and planned a big celebration.

Leadership was something I never experienced or was confident to do. When my other community members approached me to take on the position, I was very surprised what I was being asked to do; me, the one with no leadership experiences was asked to represent the chapter as a leader. I accepted the position as I really wanted to learn from it and gain experience for future leadership positions.

While we are known for our social programming, we also look for ways to do educational programming on topics that are interesting to our members. Over the last few years we were able to work out a partnership with the Pittsburgh community to offer free webinars on a variety of topics including Blockchain, data visualization, elevator speech and writing survey questions. These programs were very successful, we had great attendance and received positive feedback and our members learned a lot from the programming. To date, the partnership is still happening with the Pittsburgh community and more educational programming will be on the way.

Because of this successful programming I was able to put in place, I was awarded the Leadership and Innovation Award by the Philadelphia Community for my leadership as chapter president. The community was also awarded the Outstanding Programming Award for the success of our Blockchain webinar. I was so proud to win these awards, and I am so happy to share my success and what I have learned from my experience.

And the end of 2019, rather than moving into the past president role, I actually stayed in the president role for the year 2020, I was elected to continue the role due to someone dropping out at last minutes as well as being passionate about the work I have done for the Philadelphia chapter. This helped me to learn that things do change and to adapt to any situation.

Here are some tips and tricks that I learned on how to be a successful leader as an information professional:

  • Delegate tasks and don’t try and take everything on yourself, you will get overwhelmed.
  • Listen to everyone’s ideas, even if it’s not the best idea, its important to listen and maybe its something that could be used for the future.
  • When delegating task/assignments, put people in roles where they will do their best work.
  • When working on planning a big project or event, come up with a timeline and stick with it.
  • Use networking events and conferences as opportunities to create partnerships and/or find volunteers to be part of your community and or a future leader.
  • Take time for self-care. Walk away if you need to, do something to relieve the stress. Things can wait especially work that is volunteer.
  • Be prepared to have difficult conversations.
  • Be accepting of change. Anything can change in a moment’s notice and we must be adaptive to it.
  • Celebrate your successes. If you have challenges/downfalls along the way, that is ok too, see where you went wrong and look to learn from it.
I hope you enjoyed reading and learning from my experience about being a leader within SLA and my tips and tricks! Consider practicing leadership with SLA if this is something that interests you!


Leigh Milligan is currently a librarian at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. She also works at a worker’s compensation company as a team lead. She is currently the president of the SLA Philadelphia Community. Leigh is the founder of #LISprochat twitter chat providing a safe space for info pros to network for the last 5 years. She has a side business and podcast with her husband called 8BitFusion where she makes pop culture art. Leigh’s other hobbies include paddleboarding, reading, video games, running, exercising, and camping. She resides with her husband and black cat in Levittown, PA.