Becoming a Professional Associate: ECPN Interviews Molly Gleeson

This post follows up on a previous ECPN blog post from 2012 by Molly Gleeson titled “I’m not a PA, but I want to be” (
Professional Associate status is granted through a peer review system whereby the applicant submits evidence of their “sustained high-quality professional skills and ethical behavior that adheres to the AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.” (1) This usually means submitting treatment reports and other conservation documentation, as well as recommendations from other conservators. The AIC Membership Committee is tasked with reviewing the applications, which may be submitted at deadlines throughout the year. PAs make up almost 30% of the AIC membership for 2015 (2). To be eligible you must be 3+ years out of grad school.
In Molly’s original post (3) she pointed out five great reasons why Emerging Conservators might want to achieve Professional Associate status:
1. Inclusion in the “Find a Conservator” tool on the AIC website
2. Voting privileges within AIC
3. Make yourself stand out when applying for jobs, contracts and grants
4. Eligibility to apply for Individual Professional Development Scholarships
5. Recognition among your peers and colleagues
Now that Molly has completed the process of becoming a PA, Jessica Walthew (ECPN Professional Education and Training Co-officer) asks her to reflect on the experience by answering a few questions (4) :
JW: What was the most difficult part of the process of becoming a PA? Did you run into any surprises about how difficult or easy it would be?
MG: The most difficult part was committing to applying and actually contacting the people that I was asking to support my application, because that meant that I had to follow through with my part. Once I did that, I really do think the rest fell into place pretty easily. Since all application materials can be shared and submitted online now, I think the process is fairly simple and straightforward.
JW: What materials did you include demonstrating your skills and abilities? Just treatment reports or documentation of other types (outreach, blog posts)?
MG: I submitted 4 examples of work. At the time I applied, my work was not heavily focused on treatment, so I definitely wanted to demonstrate the range of activities that I had been involved in. In addition to submitting two treatment reports, I also submitted materials related to a long-term research project on Native Californian featherwork and from a workshop that I taught for a group of Native Californian basketweavers on the care of baskets, including images from the workshop. I also made sure that my CV was updated and mentioned other outreach I was involved in, publications, presentations, blogging, committee work, etc.
JW: Do you see any additional benefits now compared to those you identified in your blog post?
MG: Sure. First, I might order the benefits I originally listed in a slightly different order – probably bumping voting privileges within AIC and eligibility to apply for Individual Professional Development Scholarships to the top of the list. Another benefit I now see is that the process of applying for PA status is a great professional development activity. It allowed me to share my work with former mentors who didn’t know all the details of what I had been doing since graduation, and led to some meaningful professional exchanges. It was also a nice way to reconnect with some important people who have provided great support for me. And another benefit that I didn’t think of before is that now I can act as a sponsor for other conservators seeking PA status!
JW: For current ECP’s, do you have any advice on preparing for applying for PA status down the road? For example, in the application it states “Professional contributions to the field should be emphasized and must be documented.” (5)
MG: If you feel like you’re not as involved as you’d like to be in professional activities, then make an effort to get involved. I was encouraged to apply to be on the ECPN committee the year after I finished graduate school, and I am very happy that I did, because being on an AIC committee is a terrific way to contribute to the field. I recommend looking for ways to be involved on any committee of interest (and not just applying for committee positions, but also volunteering for specific projects, blogging at the AIC meeting, etc.) and also looking beyond AIC to local/regional groups and getting involved in those. There are so many ways to become involved and to contribute to the field, and these don’t have to be big time commitments either.
The takeaway is that applying for PA status can allow you to be more involved with AIC and gives you the opportunity to benefit from grants specifically restricted to PAs and Fellows. For those of us not yet eligible to apply, Molly’s advice is to make sure to stay involved.
(1) AIC, “Who Can join.” (
(2) Ruth Seyler, Personal communication, via email.
(3) Molly Gleeson for ECPN blog, “I’m not a PA but I want to be” (
(4) Edited and condensed interview with Molly Gleeson. Personal communication, via email.
(5) AIC. Professional Associate application.
Our thanks to Molly Gleeson, Project Conservator, Penn Museum and author of In the Artifact Lab. (

About the Author
Jessica Walthew holds a BA in Art History and Biology from Williams College (2009), with an MA in the History of Art and Archaeology with an Advanced Certificate in Conservation from The Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2015). She has worked in the conservation departments of the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum, The Frick Collection, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Penn Museum. Her research interests include theory and practice in archaeological and ethnographic conservation, best practices in documentation, and technical research in art history and archaeology. In fall 2015 she will begin an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art researching the intersection of textiles and objects conservation practices in the Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

3 thoughts on “Becoming a Professional Associate: ECPN Interviews Molly Gleeson”

  1. This is great! I recently applied for, and got, PA status as well. I found that the AIC website didn’t get into great detail about why you should seek PA status. That made it just a little harder to justify the work time spent, and to brag about it in my annual self-evaluation. This interview would have been very useful!

  2. Of course now I see the link to the original post from 2012, which I somehow missed in my research on PA status!

  3. Melina, Congrats on getting your PA status! I can’t wait to apply in a few months. Also happy that you found this helpful, even though it was a little late. We have a follow-up interview with the Membership Committee Chair Peter Muldoon coming up soon!

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