It is with great pleasure that I provide this tribute to Mia Urick. Mia has served MASA and its members for 32 years and is retiring on October 13, 2022. She leaves behind a legacy of dedication to MASA including providing high-quality professional development opportunities and support of all kinds to staff and members that will long be remembered.
To prepare for this article, I contacted former MASA Executive Directors Dr. Dale Jensen, Dr. Charlie Kyte, and Dr. Gary Amoroso along with Barb Nicol of Barbara Nicol Public Relations to share their experiences working with Mia.
“It was an honor to work with Mia for 12 years,” said Dale. He went on to add, “She was a hard worker who was always thoughtful and made the office a pleasant place to work every day.”
Charlie related that during his tenure Mia was responsible for many of the “back office functions.” That continues to this day. Mia fosters business partnerships, develops contracts, and was responsible for remodeling projects and leases when MASA owned a building. Charlie noted that “Mia stayed abreast of who the emerging speakers were and was able to attract them to speak at MASA conferences.” While Charlie was executive director, Mia was able to secure conference speakers Senator Paul Wellstone, most governors, and even the owner of what was then the newly formed “Geek Squad.” Perhaps Charlie’s most notable quote was that one of Mia’s jobs was, “Taking care of poor Charlie Kyte and keeping him on task.” No doubt that was a challenge!
When I connected with Gary, he commented that “Mia’s commitment to, and history with the association, has resulted in an unparalleled legacy. Mia’s years with the association created a fabric that touched all members and all aspects of the association’s work.” Gary’s delight in working with Mia was evident in his most notable quote, “I am forever grateful for the partnership Mia and I shared during my tenure as executive director.” I’m certain Mia feels the same about working with Gary!
Close colleague, Barb Nicol stated, “When you think of MASA and MASE, you immediately think of Mia. For years Mia has been the glue that holds the organizations together, the organizer who knew where to go for what, the connector who could tell you who to talk to. She’s been a great and generous partner to all school districts – and all school communicators – for more years than I can count. We will miss you, Mia!” Exactly Barb, exactly.
And now it’s my turn. Mia’s appreciation for the MASA staff is unwavering. She has been available to them no matter the time of day. Though I have only worked in this capacity with Mia for a little more than two years, the support she has provided me during my transition, the pandemic and its uncertainty, a personal tragedy, and more, has been remarkable. She has been at my elbow throughout these past two years. My most notable quote is, “Mia is that one person we know who says when they are retiring everyone is replaceable, but we know in our hearts and minds that there is no replacing Mia, only starting anew and honoring her legacy.” I know you will join me in acknowledging and expressing gratitude of the deepest kind for the many gifts Mia has brought to MASA over the years!
We will all miss you, Mia. It’s been a privilege.