Whose Job Is That? Most of the Time, Mine… by Lilah Handler

YNPN Chicago Board of Directors Speak!

“Lilah, did you know that we are out of toilet paper?” “Lilah, the copier is acting weird.” “Lilah, the toilet bowl has no water in it.” “Lilah, are we out of manila folders?” “Lilah, Lilah, LILAH!” Whenever someone calls my name I prepare myself for a question to follow.

Currently, I am the Office Manager at the Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition (IMCHC), a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of women, children, and families throughout the state. During my six plus years at IMCHC, I acquired a new-found appreciation for office managers around the world.   My duties range from ordering supplies and answering the phone, to dealing with sewage leaking through our ceiling.

My days are always unpredictable and patience has become my mantra. The current issue on my plate is spray paint on the front of our building. Yes, that too is my job. I have the unique pleasure of calling 3-1-1 to request that Graffiti Busters remove it. And though it can take weeks to be removed, inevitably it only takes a few days for a new vulgar word to be spray painted on our newly cleaned wall.  Thus the whole cycle starts again.

Being an Office Manager is just one of my responsibilities at IMCHC. Our office is part of a condo association to which I was elected Treasurer. I have to make sure the bills are paid on time, taxes are filed, assessments are received, and I attend all condo board meetings. Once I took on this responsibility the other owners assumed I suddenly knew everything about the condo’s history and current issues.  One of my favorite experiences as the Treasurer was when one of the other owners thought it was acceptable to lend the condo’s snow blower to a friend out of state. Naturally, we had a bad snow storm and I had to call the snow blower “thief”. The next day when it was returned we ensured we wouldn’t have trouble tracking it down again – by literally putting it under lock and key. Sometimes people really surprise (and irritate) you!

Don’t get me wrong, I really love my job. I love everybody I work with and find the work very important and inspiring. Some days are harder than others, but that is life. To cope with work stress I make sure to take deep breathes, walk away from my computer if I get overwhelmed, and most importantly, communicate with the staff. It is important to make sure that you articulate an issue with a coworker immediately so the work gets done effectively and efficiently. I also have the luxury of listening to music at work, which helps me relax.

I hope I have helped some of you to understand the many roles expected of and played by your office manager.  So the next time you call your office manager’s name, before you ask her to order some more toilet paper or paper clips, make sure to tell her how much you value her!

Lilah Handler has been working in the public health field for over 5 years. She currently serves on YNPN Chicago’s Executive Board as Co-Chair for Celebration and is the main coordinator for all of the IL Maternal & Child Health Coalition projects, which entails organizing meetings, conferences, and fundraisers. Lilah has been a huge advocate for women and children’s health for the majority of her life. Her passion and interest in health disparities and providing affordable and accessible health care for all has led her to a career in public health. She received a BA from Columbia College in Fine Arts.

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