Pam graduated from Elmira College, Elmira, NY with a B.A. English Literature and later completed an MBA in Human Resource Management at Loyola University of Chicago. Her career in human resources spanned 38 years in both the railroad industry (V.P. Employee Relations, Chemetron Railway Products) and the mining industry (Sr. Manager Human Resources, Komatsu America Corp).
Pam served on the Board of Directors for PALM (Peoria Area Labor Management) from 2000 until her retirement in 2013. Pam joined PAWAC in 2014 and currently chairs the Membership Committee and serves on the Board of Directors as Secretary.
PAWAC: Hi Pam, thanks for joining us. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? Do you have any hobbies or other groups you attend?
Pam Slaby: Well, I’m retired now and have been for the last five years. You could say I’m a lady of leisure. I get to do what I enjoy doing, such as gardening or reading. I’m involved in three different book clubs: Mature Reads, a book club at my church, and of course the PAWAC Reads book club. I think that’s what I enjoy most about being retired. You get to do what you like.
PAWAC: Speaking of PAWAC Reads, when did you first become interested in world affairs?
Pam: I’ve always been interested in knowing what is going on in the world. I credit my father for that. My father used to bring home all four Chicago newspapers - there were four back in the day - and once I learned to read, I would read them. Later, I majored in English Literature in college, but I still had that fascination with world affairs. When I retired, I took a course in international relations at Bradley University. One day I was walking in the hallway and I saw this sign for the Peoria Area World Affairs Council, and there was Angela!*
PAWAC: You’re probably one of our only members to have joined PAWAC by finding our office on Bradley campus. Thank goodness for that sign! You’ve been an active part of PAWAC; you’re currently the Membership Committee Chairperson. How did you get to that position?
Pam: Well, this is my first year as Chairperson for the committee. Last year I was a co-chair with Mac Pogue, and he provided a lot of mentorship for me to take over the role as a sole chairperson this year. As for how I first got involved, I went to an event that had a board meeting the same night. I stayed for the board meeting and before I knew it, I was volunteering to help out with the committees.
PAWAC: What kind of changes have you noticed happening this year compared to last year with the organization?
Pam: There have been a lot of changes with Mac stepping down as co-chair since he has such great resources and ideas. I’m thankful he’s still helping out and mentoring me. PAWAC’s Kristin McHugh retired earlier this year, and Angela Weck stepped back in as Executive Director. There’s been a lot of changes, but I believe that ultimately change can be healthy and positive for organizations, and I think we’re seeing positive changes.
PAWAC: Can you elaborate on that?
Pam: For example, the Membership Committee is thinking of new ways to attract members and to this effect, we did a membership survey. We received a high response rate for this type of survey and got great feedback from our members about what our organization does well and where we can offer more and better services. Our programming in particular received excellent reviews and was cited as the main reason for membership, which means that our product is appealing to our members. That’s exactly what we want as an organization.
PAWAC: You’ve been with the organization for a few years. Which programs stand out to you?
Pam: Definitely the Illinois Central College (ICC) culinary programs. I attended the African culinary program and the Chinese culinary program. Each time I had someone native from that region sit at my table, so not only was I able to learn about the cuisine from the program, I learned about China and Africa from the people who know it best. I loved hearing the personal aspect of international relations over our American adaptation of their native food. International relations are one thing, but you want that human to human interaction. In the end, it’s the people that matter.
PAWAC: What upcoming programs are you most looking forward to?
Pam: As I’ve said, I really enjoy the personal perspective, so I’m looking forward to Don Samford’s Travelogue on Iceland. I think it’s going to be really interesting. I’m also looking forward to our program on the NAFTA in August, providing that we still have NAFTA then!
PAWAC: NAFTA is an extremely relevant conversation right now, especially for Central Illinois. Pam, thank you so much for your time today.
Pam: Thank you.
*Angela Weck currently serves as the Executive Director of PAWAC, a position she held in the past as well.
This interview was taken and adapted for web by Olivia Lu.