My first meeting with Bill Murray was during his final interview at a PRSA Board of Directors meeting in Salt Lakes City. He came to the process with passion, energy, experience and a new perspective for PRSA. A short time later, I would have the opportunity to serve as PRSA chair and work side-by-side with Bill, speaking daily via conference calls, traveling to various meetings, working hand-in-hand for the betterment of the profession and all of those PRSA serves.
Professional associations like PRSA require a special partnership between the volunteer leader and top executive, and Bill and I became a true team. Maybe it was our Jersey roots, but I think it was a shared vision and our unwavering commitment to members and their success.
Unique to our tenure were the times in which we served. It was 2009 and our nation was faced with the worst recession since the Great Depression. Layoffs, downsizing and shrinking budgets could have been devastating to our association. Far reaching plans were quickly replaced with various “life-saving” measures for PRSA and our members. The association did more than just survive with a meager single digit loss of members. Instead, in the face of economic hardship, we launched new programs, generated revenue, streamlined our governance, gave members a new voice with improved bylaws, created enhanced membership value and, most importantly, helped our members weather the storm. Certainly the work of previous boards, staff and Bill’s predecessors was essential, providing financial reserves and a clear mission and vision for PRSA, but when the storm struck it was Bill and I who were at the helm.
Throughout that tempest, Bill was a true beacon. He was a calming voice with a strategic vision keenly focused on our members and their needs. During that time, and since, Bill has made those around him better. He inspired others to reach further, dream larger, do more and become greater. Bill was more than my PRSA partner, he was an inspiration and a teacher.
Bill recently announced he is leaving PRSA for new opportunities. While sad to see him go — and believing this is a real loss to PRSA — I couldn’t be more happy for Bill. We should all aspire to leave on our own terms, having achieved our goals, leaving a place better than we found it, ready to welcome new challenges and opportunities. At the risk of this sounding like his workplace eulogy, Bill will forever be a part of PRSA. There’s no doubt PRSA is a better place because of Bill.
I encourage all who have worked with, spoken with and befriended Bill through the years to leave a comment with a special memory or well wishes as he prepares to embark on his next journey.
God speed, my friend.