In The Family

A story of a special IAAP bond


By Williesha Morris
Originally published in the May/June 2017 issue of OfficePro Magazine


In celebration of the 75th anniversary of IAAP I sought out family members to see what’s different and similar about their experiences over the years. Meet this mother/daughter team who helped grow one of the association’s charter chapters. IAAP became such a unique connection between Ann Burke and her mother Maggie Lynch, both of them wrangled in other family members.

Lynch brought Burke’s dad to meetings and Lynch got married the day after the 2006 convention in Reno at the host hotel. Her mom was beside her for the conference at the Hilton. Later, other members of her family and her new husband arrived to celebrate their nuptials.

“(Burke) found out that there was a chapel at the convention hall, and she made all of the arrangements,” Lynch said. “It was pretty cool.”

It made sense for Burke to be prepped for a wedding and an IAAP convention at once. Lynch said Burke’s organizational mastery wows her.

“I would call her up and I’d say, ‘Annie, I’ve got to do this and this and this. Prioritize them for me.’” Burke helped her with a recent move. Even that very morning, Lynch called her daughter with a question about Excel.

All of Burke’s jobs, including her current one as an executive admin for an Omaha auction company, required organization skills. In her current role, she and her team are ready for anything, even cleaning the bathrooms.

“You never know from day to day what you will be doing,” she said.

Burke was a longtime member of Nebraska’s “Ak-Sar-Ben,” one of the six charter chapters of the association. The incredible opportunities to grow in her field, get certified and gain leadership roles is what helped Burke draw her mother in.

Because of her long experience as an admin for companies like Ameritrade, Burke admitted with a laugh that when it comes to administrative topics, there isn’t much that her mother could teach her. After all, she had been an admin much longer. And Burke introduced her mother to IAAP for the first time.

Or so she thought.

When Lynch met with another IAAP member, she realized they were part of the organization several decades before when it was the National Secretaries’ Association. Back then, Lynch was only a member for a few years and wasn’t as involved as she would have liked.

Once Lynch became an admin later in life, she joined IAAP because she needed a way to grow her skills. She said there was no communication between admins at work, and she took it upon herself to gather information to become the “go-to” person when it came to finding people and important information within the company.

Lynch was amazed at the changes IAAP had gone through. The organization had evolved from a place to gather socially with like-minded folks into one that was “nurturing” and heralded the administrative profession as a true career.

Burke said before IAAP she always “felt like I had to jump from what I was doing to something else higher than what I was doing (and) to feel like I was moving in a forward direction as a young professional.”

“Then I realized that I really enjoyed what I was doing, and it was OK to do that forever, if I felt like it, and it was a viable career,” Burke said. “This organization is what made that possible for me.”

As she moved through Ak-Sar-Ben’s ranks, from VP of membership and PR to president, Burke ushered the older members into the 21st century. In turn, the seasoned members, even after retirement, continued to be active in the organization and mentor others.

Being “more than just a secretary” is what Lynch learned from her daughter. IAAP’s growth over the years was personified by Burke’s experience. Much like Burke’s organizational skills crossed over from her professional life to her personal life, the ideals IAAP stood for have stuck with her as well.

“You want to be responsible and reflect good ethics,” Burke said. “You reminded people of that when you were standing up there and saying, ‘This is a serious thing. We don’t just get together to socialize.’ This is something where you are learning things and you have an obligation to remember that that’s why you’re here. And to pass it on.”

Burke said spending time with her mom in IAAP was an “awesome” experience and Lynch was very supportive of her involvement. Burke already felt like the older members in the group were “seasoned professionals” and like mothers to her. When her mom was there, she knew she had to up her game.

“I always wanted everybody to have some respect for me,” Burke said. But she really wanted to make her mother proud.

The family connection continued when Lynch brought her husband (Burke’s dad) to IAAP meetings.

“She encouraged my dad to show up every once in a while,” Burke said. “They loved my dad. He was like the auxiliary member. He didn’t go all the time, but when he wasn’t there, they asked about him. My dad’s just that kind of a guy.”

It’s clear Lynch has always been proud of her daughter. She reminisced about how much she enjoyed the gatherings she and Burke planned for admins’ bosses, which brought in about 200 people and included guest speakers like the mayor.

There were opportunities for Burke to learn from her mom, however. She said when it comes to writing and public speaking, Lynch “reigns supreme.” When Burke was working on goals and programming as president of the chapter, she looked to her mom for guidance.

“I would run through my script with her before chapter meetings each month,” Burke said. “She was kind of my ear, because she is a good writer. I knew that she would help me if things didn’t flow well.” She also needed feedback because she wanted to make sure members her mom’s age were getting what they needed out of IAAP.

Both miss being a part of the organization. Even in retirement, Lynch uses the skills Burke and IAAP taught her.

When she gets stumped, “I always have Annie I can call,” Lynch said with a laugh.

About the author:
Williesha Morris is a virtual assistant and a freelance writer who helps other small business owners and freelancers find their writing voices. You can find her at and on Twitter @willieshamorris.

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