Taking Hiatus from Microsoft MVP Program

I have made the decision to step down from the Microsoft MVP Program this year. I will not be submitting any community contributions for the award renewal cycle.

I recognize that I have not given back the volume or the quality of contributions to the community that I have in past years. It is clear to me now that this pattern will continue for at least another calendar year.

There have been a number of significant personal events that took place over the last 12 months that have lead me to this decision. I am been fairly quiet about most of them, but I feel ready to share.

I am not sharing my story to receive sympathy or to receive praise. We all go through the same stuff differently, and there are people who have it much worse than I have. It’s just the truth and I hope my honesty will help someone that is struggling with the unfairness of life to know that this too shall pass.

“You did today. Good job. It wasn’t easy. Tomorrow may not be easy either, but at least it won’t be today. You never have to do today again.”

In January 2018 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, beginning a year of uncertainty and worry.
In January 2018 a dear friend slipped into a coma. He overdosed after taking anti-anxiety medication tainted with fentanyl. We visited him almost daily in ICU for several weeks until he passed away.
In February 2018 we found out my mother-in-law had a serious health issue that would require surgery.
In March 2018 we made the decision to cancel our June wedding.
In May 2018 we helped organize our friend’s celebration of life and spread his ashes with his family.
In June 2018 I had a health scare and made the decision to quit smoking (cigarettes), a habit I started at age 15 and vowed to never give up.
In August 2018 I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. It was a (happy) surprise that changed the entire course of our future plans.
In September 2018 our roommate took his own life. Finding him in our home was the most traumatic experience I have ever witnessed.
In October 2018 we decided to plan an entirely different type of wedding ceremony on short notice. We needed some joy in our lives and if 2018 wasn’t going to bring it, we were going to create it.
In November 2018 I married the love of my life in a small backyard wedding ceremony surrounded by loving friends and family.

2019 is a new year with new beginnings, and lot of change, all for the better.
In January 2019 doctors declared my mom cancer-free.
In February 2019 my husband was offered his dream job as a bus operator at BC Transit.
In April 2019 we will get to meet our son.

I will be taking a year off of volunteering to focus on learning to be a mother and raising our son. I plan to return to being involved in the Microsoft user community after this transition period and hope there is room the MVP community for me to return when I am ready.

Being an MVP has been the most rewarding experience in my professional career. When I started in the industry, my fear of public speaking rendered me a shaking mute. My insecurity and lack of faith to trust in my own knowledge left me in a constant state of questioning my ability to cut it as a business professional. The support of the MVP community helped me grow into a confident professional who can speak to crowds with hundreds of attendees at online conferences and give live demos at User Group events without hesitation. The positive feedback and comments from the user community through my blog has been the biggest motivator to keep going when I faced fear and doubt.

Although I’ve had to (and will continue to) politely decline opportunities to volunteer to help organize and run local conferences (such as SQL Saturday Victoria), organize, host, and speak at local user groups (Victoria Office 365 User Group, etc.), present at online conferences (Learn OneNote Conference, Learn Teams Conference, etc.), and attend the annual Microsoft MVP Global Summit, I will continue to respond to community members who reach out with Office 365 related questions and queries, and will introduce them to active Microsoft MVPs for assistance, until I’m in a place where I have the capacity to respond myself.

I will also not be posting to this blog or responding to comments posted here. (For the 100+ people who have left comments that I have not answered, I am truly sorry).

To my friends in the Microsoft MVP Program, the Windows Insider community, the OneNote Avengers, and general Microsoft User community, I will miss our comradery and the support you’ve given me.

Until we meet again, keep “clam” and OneNote on!

Kelly (Marshall) LaForest