The Back-Office Story

This post is a little different than most – it’s not about Whooping Cranes, marshes, migration routes, aircraft, or even a plea for donations. It’s about what’s going on in the background, especially during what many consider OM’s “off-season”, i.e. that time when all the Craniacs are waiting for the next class of chicks to hatch and begin their training in Wisconsin.

First, to clarify, it’s not really off-season – Brooke is diligently monitoring the 2014 cohort at St. Mark’s. But when the CraneCam goes offline, I think most of us think “whew! now OM can rest up for next season!” Many of you are aware that I’ve been hired to replace Liz Condie, OM’s long-time CFO, now that she has retired. This has afforded me a view of the inner workings of the OM “back-office,” and I can tell you that there’s no one resting on their laurels!

I worked at the Port Perry office recently for a couple of weeks so that I could get acquainted up-close-and-personal with my new responsibilities and co-workers. The office is just the right size with small office areas for each of us, plus room for storage, a tiny kitchen area, copy machine and printer area, and of course a wash room, which is Canadianese for rest room. Chris sits in the front, my space is behind hers, Heather’s is behind mine, and Joe, the “big boss” is in the back behind Heather. Most of the time our areas are wide open to each other which has plusses and minuses. On the one hand, it’s easy to coordinate and collaborate; on the other hand, it’s easy to interrupt others when you have a question. All in all though, it’s pretty perfect for our size staff.

From my desk I can swing around to my left and see Joe busily thumbing a note on his phone and see Heather working on two computers at once. If I swing to the right I can see Chris hard at work answering the phone, updating QuickBooks, opening mail, doing payroll, and paying bills, seemingly all at the same time!

I have decided that Chris is the unheralded hero of the office. She is the glue holding the back-office operation together when everyone else has gone on migration. (Which is not to say that Joe and Heather (and now me) aren’t doing their share of administrative work from the road!) But Chris works in the office alone every day, holding down the fort until the crew returns. I’m not sure if she’s busier when she’s covering the office alone or when everyone returns and wants to ask her about this, that, and the other thing!

I had no plans to “un-retire”, but working with the rest of the OM staff is really a joy and most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all. We are a team, all pulling together in the same direction for the same purpose – safeguarding the future of Whooping Cranes. Thanks, OM, for this opportunity!

Share Button


  1. Margie Tomlinson February 2, 2015 2:42 pm

    Congratulations, JoAnne! You will do well. Wish Liz a “Happy Retirement” for me, too, would you? & All best wishes to YOU for the years ahead!

  2. Karen Anne January 30, 2015 2:53 am

    Are you moving permanently out of RI?

    • JoBel January 30, 2015 4:35 pm

      No Karen – I will work mostly from home, but I’ll go up to the OM office about one week a month so they don’t forget what I look like.

  3. Cheryl N. January 29, 2015 7:07 pm

    Welcome to the team, Jo-Anne. I agree, Chris is a hidden gem in the OM office. Thanks for giving us a little behind-the-scenes look at a tiny office team that does outstanding work to help the whoopers.

  4. craniachumbird January 29, 2015 3:30 pm

    I’m so happy for you, Jo. Hope you and Heather can come back to Magee sometime. It was so much fun. Hi to Heather and Joe.

    • Heather Ray January 30, 2015 4:21 am

      Barb!!! We LOVE Magee Marsh and were hoping to return this spring, however, I won’t be able to do to another work commitment 🙁
      Hopefully next year – we’ll miss you and Dan (and the warblers)

  5. Mindy January 29, 2015 3:18 pm

    Thanks to all of you who work so hard in the office doing the necessary paperwork and computer stuff to keep the birdies flying each year! We love you…..Great report Jo, love it

  6. Sally Swanson January 29, 2015 2:07 pm

    Thanks for letting us in on the happenings “post season”! You all are the greatest!


  7. birdlady January 29, 2015 12:25 pm

    Congrats, Ms. CFO, we love ya! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes peek.

  8. Dave & Sheryl Erickson January 29, 2015 9:16 am

    Jo – you are the perfect fit to join the “off season” office cohort! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes description. We join others in saying happy “unretirement”!

  9. Sheba January 29, 2015 7:55 am

    so happy you are enjoying your “retirement” Joe, I often think of Chris alone in the office and the great job she does,

  10. Cathy January 29, 2015 7:49 am

    Thank you for another peek behind the scenes, I really love those. Another hearty congratulations on your new position, OM is certainly fortunate to have you. Enough can’t be said about the OM team, you guys are just “da bomb”, as they say in today’s lingo.

  11. eugenia (aka CraneWatcher) January 29, 2015 6:41 am

    Congratulations, Jo! The CFO is in good hands. And thanks for the peek into the office.

  12. Patti January 29, 2015 6:02 am

    WTG Jo! Congrats on the new job, a great one and a great cause! happy “unretirement”! 🙂