Executive Director’s Perspective: Thankfulness


Here’s to those who inspire you and don’t even know it.


November is the month of thanks. This month I would like to dedicate my article and give thanks to Craig Hattersley, TCDLA’s Communication Director. He has been with TCDLA for 12 years and has been a valuable and intricate part of TCDLA. He has supported me and made us all look good—and helped us on our quest for success!

Selfishly, I knew this day was coming, but as the executive director, I wanted him to remain in his position until I retired. Craig has always been a rock in the organization, making sure everyone remembers deadlines and assisting with tasks. Tiffany speaks for all of us when she says: “I wish I had more time with Craig to get to know him better because the few times I have gotten to have a ‘sit down’ with him were always enlightening and meaningful. I will definitely miss when his time comes to speak in the staff meetings, knowing I’m going to get a good laugh. I too selfishly wish he would be here longer for me to learn as much as possible and pick his brain for all the insight and wisdom that he possesses.”

In the past 12 years, TCDLA has relocated our office twice. Cris remembers: “We always laugh about how we say we are old cellmates because in the old Nueces house we used to share that little office area, which we considered a cell. He will be missed.”

Some of my fondest memories with Craig are sitting in my office or his and just brainstorming ideas, him giving me advice. I look back and laugh at the staff meetings where he was eagerly waiting for his turn to give his update—and make comments that would have the staff laughing. Many of the board members probably looked forward as I did to reading his detailed weekly humorous loop reports.

How we will long for meals from scratch Craig would bring, his wife Jan’s desserts, and food for our potlucks. He was appreciated by all staff who shared meals prepared by Jan.

Then there were those endearing terms he had for staff at the office. How many times everyone has mentioned they will miss him dearly, the lone male leaving us.

For Rusty Duncan, our signature event, when Craig creates all the marketing and artwork, I feel like he truly understands everyone’s vision (and especially my own concepts he turned into reality). Rusty is the one event all staff work ten-plus hours a day, and his efforts will be sorely missed. Miriam says: “I will miss him always taking care of us at Rusty every year and making sure we had our vitamin C. He would pass out vitamin C drops to make sure we stayed on our A game! He always joked with me about being a wimp for always being cold and didn’t mind when I would steal his heater from his office to use—which I’ve now had for years. But most of all I will miss the long talks about life and road trips to seminars. Working with Craig 12 years, I definitely will miss him.”

Susan remembers that “since I started, I could always ask Craig to take a caller who had interesting topics or too much info to share but I knew the person needed to be handled ‘delicately.’ He always had funny sayings to ‘thank me’ for sharing those calls with him. He will be missed.”

Rick remembers: “When I got to TCDLA, Craig was the only one who understood my taste in music. Heck, he was the only one who had ever heard of the artists I loved. I have treasured his friendship and his being the ‘Old Guy’ around the office. We have always been the ones who went to bed early at Rusty. Many don’t know how much responsibility Craig takes with the publications, but I can tell you that he compares the editions and has saved me many, many errors that a less dedicated man would have missed because he wouldn’t have been looking as diligently. I will miss him even more than I worry about assuming the mantle of Old Guy!”

And then were the little things. Oh, how we love coffee in this office! The afternoon is always a treat when Craig makes his handmade pour-over coffee. I will miss this dearly—and don’t know how I will function without it!

Chelsea remembers: “When the coffee grinder broke and he couldn’t have his coffee, he grumbled about it and bought coffee at Whataburger for a quick fix. He solved this immediately by replacing the grinder with a personal one from home. I will miss him.”

Nymph says she “will miss her early-morning chats with Craig about coffee, school, and life”—and her daily challenge of trying to be taller than Craig with her heels.

I will even miss having him text me with the day’s problems in the wee hours—starting as early as 4:30 am. How sad I will be to arrive at the office with no one to greet me.

Or having someone to help make welcome our incoming part-time staff, who are mentored by Craig and his words of wisdom—and teased unmercifully as well. As a new staff member, Avea remembers all the car advice he gave on her BMW (which had over 200k miles on it), his emails on our staff listserve.

Elisa remembers him one Halloween giving a real “boo”: candy dumped unceremoniously on the victim! What fun times we have had at our office, memories with Craig that will forever be retold.

Craig is our early bird, usually getting to the office before 5:30 am. Driving in from Pflugerville is quite the commute, and over the years traffic has only gotten worse, along with an increase in the time required. Fellow commuter Mari had this to say: “Craig has a sense of humor I have always found entertaining. I will definitely miss him making me laugh with his sarcastic remarks and our almost daily exchange of traffic stories between the office and our homes in Pflugerville.”

Keri says: “The thing I am going to miss the most about Craig not being in the office is going to be Jan’s cooking. He was always giving me a taste of whatever creation she cooked that night before, and it usually reminded me of home cooking I grew up with in Wisconsin. On a serious note, I will miss the early-morning conversations and all the other tasks I am always coming into his office for help with. I will miss him greatly, and his shoes are going to be hard to fill.”

TCDLA is indeed losing a part of the family, the key person with institutional knowledge, and my friend. Craig, you will be missed!

I hope everyone enjoys this fall and shares their thanks with friends and family!

Melissa J. Schank
Melissa J. Schank
Melissa J. Schank, Chief Executive Officer, has worked with nonprofit associations for over 20 years, and has been with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association more than 15 years. She earned her master’s of human resources, business administration, bachelor’s of communication and mediation certificate from Saint Edwards University in Austin, Texas, and is a certified association executive. Her greatest strengths are overseeing the long-term planning, financial management, and strategy for legal educational programs, in addition to managing the organization’s seminars, membership, publication, and communication departments.
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