Doug Laughter's IT Impact
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The fact that you’re able to read this story right now is a testament to the work that Doug Laughter (pictured at left) has done for NATCA. And as Laughter prepares to end an eight-year run as chairman of NATCA’s Information & Technology (IT) Committee, he said he could look back on his time running the committee with pride.
Laughter, a controller at Salt Lake Center (ZLC) and a charter NATCA member, was one of the founders of the IT committee. He said it was borne from himself and two other members, Bryan Thompson (C90) and Ed Morris (R90), as they believed NATCA needed to further increase its IT efforts.
“At the time, the Seattle convention was upcoming, and the guys on the forum were discussing ways to better relay information to our members,” he said. “We thought, ‘what if we went up there and reported the proceedings on this forum that we had?”
At the time, Laughter said, hardly anyone had a laptop, including the National Office staff. So he packed up his home computer and took it from Utah to Seattle, which he said came in handy since the other machines lacked modems.
“It was quite the learning experience,” he said. “But it was a start, and we’ve grown from there, including starting webcasting with the Boston convention in ’06.”
Indeed, since the committee was formally created in 2000, it has played an integral role in establishing the union’s email server, its websites, and all the video from past events and conventions. The committee expanded NATCA in Washington and Communicating for Safety’s visibility by uploading video and enabling live webcasting over the past six years.
Laughter credits the hard work to his fellow committee members, the National Office and the National Executive Board (NEB) who together created an environment where the union could better promote the great work it does. He said he would like to thank the IT committee for doing their part in raising the profiles of NATCA’s biggest events. He also thanked Director of Communications Doug Church, as well as former president John Carr and former executive vice president Ruth Stilwell, “who gave the committee the green light and the trust when we first started to do what we thought was best.”
“With the videos and streaming capabilities, we were able to present these important events to members who were not able to attend,” Laughter said. “And we were told it has spawned a lot of interest in them from people who have never been.”
While Laughter is preparing to cede the chairman’s role, he said he will still be involved with committee’s work, just with a less strenuous time commitment. Besides, some of his co-workers said they wouldn’t let him leave, even if he tried.
“We can’t lose Doug, he has just been too important to this committee and to this union as a whole,” said Scott Mann, a controller at Southern Calif. TRACON (SCT). “He is a great friend, and a great leader, and we really are indebted to him.”
Bill Holtzman, a controller at Washington Center (ZDC) and an eight-year committee member, said Laughter has been a dedicated leader and consistent force making the work of NATCA members and representatives more efficient and more effective.
“Doug has been involved with everything...websites, BBS, convention, GATS, and more,” Holtzman said. “While others moved off the Committee, he persevered and became a resource of institutional knowledge. His commitment made NATCA stronger.”
“It has been an honor to help the Union and membership in the many ways that this position has let me, and to lead a committee of great activists and friends,” said Laughter. “I have enjoyed my tenure as Chair and am proud to have been able to volunteer for the organization in this manner.”