Elizabeth Randolph at the 2014 IA Summit in San Diego, from @ebrewer.

In Remembrance of Elizabeth

At the 2015 IA (information architecture) Summit in Minneapolis yesterday, I unsuccessfully fought back tears during a brief memorial I delivered for a wonderful colleague that passed away recently. Her name was Elizabeth Randolph. If you attended or knew Elizabeth, here’s what I originally wrote.

This is a welcoming conference. All of you are welcome here. You are welcome regardless of how academic you lean, or how experienced in the field you may be. It doesn’t even matter what you call your field, really. The experience of being welcomed is partly due to having a wonderful culture, but it’s also by design.

For example, we host dinners at local restaurants for first time attendees that have continued to evolve since their first iteration in Phoenix five years ago. In 2015 those dinners were fantastically put together by Michael Adcock. The personal forethought and effort that goes into this kind of detail is what makes this conference special, and different than other conferences that may do some similar things.

I co-chaired the IA Summit in 2013 in my former hometown of Baltimore, MD. We needed a current resident from our field to find the best nearby restaurants in Fells Point for us to welcome people to the place affectionately known as “Charm City.” The charming person who helped us was Elizabeth Randolph, and as you’ve heard, she passed away recently.

Elizabeth was blissful to work with. She owned her task. She delivered beyond her promises. She made reservations for over 130 people, built everything in a web based sign-up system, and personally accommodated each and every additional request to be added to the dinners when they were already over capacity. And she did it all with a smile and zest for life that was clearly with her until the very end.

Moments of silence for people we lose in our lives allow us necessary silent reflection. But they also isolate us with our thoughts, hopes, and fears. I prefer moments of loudness. I ask you to engage in a moment of loudness for Elizabeth. Applaud with me, shout, cheer, and celebrate the life of this wonderful, amazing human being who welcomed us to her home in 2013.