Ramsar staff news: Retirement of Annette Keller, August 2004
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27 August 2004: Ramsar and IUCN staff fête Annette Keller's retirement
Annette Keller retires after years of service to IUCN and Ramsar. Annette Keller, presently the Convention's Human Resources Officer, joined IUCN in 1983 and participated in the logistics side of the early Ramsar COPs in 1984 and 1987, in the days when IUCN provided the secretariat duties for the Convention. Following the creation of the permanent Ramsar secretariat, Annette joined the Bureau, as it was then called, and served for many years as Small Grants Fund officer and Administration Coordinator, amongst other roles. For her logistical help, in any number of languages, to generations of Standing Committee, STRP, and COP participants over many years, she is doubtless one of the best known and most appreciated of all Ramsar staff members, and the first who's made it to retirement. Annette is extraordinarily active in cultural and charitable affairs and a great traveler, and one feels that her retirement from the burdens of the secretariat will be welcome to her and put to very good use. With, of course, nostalgic reflections about Ramsar from time to time.
The venue: The Secretary General's flat, with its view from the balcony of the Château of Nyon and Lake Geneva.
Following the hors d'oeuvres, Peter Bridgewater, the Secretary General, reads out an affectionate letter of thanks for Annette's "good sense of humour, endless patience and kind and encouraging words to whoever needed them" from Gordana Beltram, Chair of the Ramsar Standing Committee.
|To Annette Keller, a great colleague and a dear friend: |
I always find it difficult to say some farewell words. Knowing you well, professionally and privately, it makes it even more difficult. Although you are going to leave the Convention secretariat you are not departing from our friendship. On the contrary, I hope to see even more of you in the coming months and years.
As a Chair of the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention, I would like to thank you for your hard work and devotion to the Convention. All these years you were part of a small but efficient team which has delivered many excellent outputs. Through your responsibility to take care of a number of different things and particularly people you contributed a great deal to the entire process. In fact, it is often more difficult to deal with people than to deal with the substance. People are demanding, moody, very often never satisfied and changing their wishes and needs - but you, with your good sense of humour, endless patience and kind and encouraging words to whoever needed them, you could cope with all of us. You always had a nice word and a helpful attitude for your colleagues in the office and the "CPs" - we very much appreciated and valued your work and were pleased with little reminders you always had and put them so nicely, but consciously and persistently to us to keep things running smoothly and to keep everybody who was involved behind the scenes doing his or her job without too much stress. You are the one who could always think of everything and everybody, and although I am sure that the work will be done also in the future, we will miss your friendly face, helpful and caring attitude, nice words and much much more that you mean for Ramsar and for all of us. Although we will miss your presence in the office when we come to Gland and at the meetings, at the same time we also wish you to enjoy your well deserved retirement. You have worked hard for it and you have all the right to relax and for a change, take time for yourself, your family and close friends - do and enjoy things and people you care for the most. I know there are so many things you want to do for yourself.
I will see you very soon and I will greet you with a warm hug and we'll talk, my dear friend - it will be just between us, two close friends .
Although I am not with you in person tonight, I am with you in my mind and my heart - have a great party. Annette Keller, a dear friend and colleague to many of us, we wish you joy and happiness and we hope that you will have all the time now to do all the very many things you never took time for and never had enough time for. We wish you all the best and hope you will keep all the nice memories of your work with Ramsar and we will always be happy to see you around. Thanks Annette!
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The Deputy Secretary General, Nick Davidson, not to be outdone, unfolds still another piece of paper . . .
and reads out a similarly affectionate and highly allusive letter of congratulation from Tim Jones, Ramsar's former European Officer.
Present and former colleagues from both Ramsar and IUCN turned out to wish Annette well.
Annette Keller recalls her hilarious adventures at Ramsar meetings of the Conference of the Parties, beginning with COP2 in Groningen in 1984 and then Regina in 1987, when she was part of the IUCN team in the days before the permanent Ramsar secretariat. Annette joined the Ramsar Bureau from IUCN some 14 years ago, not long after its creation.
Describing the flooded registration database during a torrential rainstorm at COP7 in Costa Rica.
A natural comedienne, Annette brings horrible COPs of the past back to life.
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Valerie Higgins and Maureen Wittig, present and former Ramsar staff; (right) Michele Stark and Abou Bamba
A book of souvenirs
As instructed by Tim Jones in his congratulatory message, Annette dances on the Secretary General's furniture wearing, not a COP8 T-shirt as stipulated, but the next best thing: a COP6 Brisbane scarf provided by the Secretary General himself.