Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Chief of Staff!

Speaking of staff, ever wonder what goes into making the Convention happen? Ever wanted to be a part of that? ACen Staffers past and present can hold their heads up proudly, knowing they had a hand in creating the awesome event that is Anime Central. Staffing ACen can entail attending planning meetings weeks before Convention and running things the weekend of the Convention, but it’s not all work! We wouldn’t be working the Convention if we couldn’t enjoy it!

In addition to the responsibility of working to make ACen great, you get a full Staff badge to the Convention, a Staff hotel room shared with other Staffers at the Convention (numbers are limited), and invites to year-round events! We have a staff Christmas party, a Summer Matsuri picnic, and other events throughout the year to get us together, keeping us working as a team! You don’t just see your fellow staffers once a year! It’s a great way to keep in touch with new friends!

There are openings in multiple departments such as Panel Programming, Registration, and Customer Service. For more information on our individual departments, go to http://www.acen.org/content/departments. For more information on requirements and to apply for Staff, visit http://www.acen.org/content/volunteer, under the “Staff Requirements” section, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible on what you can do to help ACen!

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who herds all the cats that make ACen happen!

Name: Rosa Halcomb

A little about yourself: Hmm. I’m a big nerd who sews, reads tarot cards, collects manga and antique cameos? Not that much to tell. I grew up in Kentucky, and I still live there, and I drive up to Chicago for ACen meetings and planning things. I travel a lot for work, so the driving is no big deal, and I love the people involved in the Con– they make it all worth it! What else? I’m in my 30s. I have a cat, and I garden in my allegedly spare time. My day job is as a business analyst for a cable company – basically I write business rules and process materials for the engineering and support teams. I geek for fun and I geek for a living. It’s a happy life!

What are some of your favorite anime related media? I grew up watching Bubblegum Crisis and Tenchi Muyo. I’m a big fan of horror anime like Higurashi or Hellsing, and I like things with a good story. Really, I will watch or listen to pretty much anything given the chance, and am currently working my way through Madoka and Sword Art Online. I also was a huge fan of Initial D, because I adore the music. MOVE is one of my favorite bands. X Japan is another. I mentioned that, right? I don’t need to jump up and shout “We Are X” to get the point across.

Staff for how long: 10 fabulous years and more to come. I started as Art Show staff, and then ran Artist’s Alley for a couple years. I was the Convention Secretary, the Chief of Staff, the Vice Chair, and then the Conchair. Now I’ve retired from Conchair and gone back to being Chief of Staff, and I really love it!

What was your first/best ACen experience? In 1999 I was just learning about this anime stuff, and the guy I was dating wanted to road trip to Chicago to this con he heard about from an artist friend of ours. That weekend I discovered ACen. I stood in line to get Kenichi Sonoda’s autograph, and the fire alarm was pulled during the signing, so he just lined us all up like ducklings and led the way outside, and finished the signing in the hotel’s outdoor space. That really taught me my first and most important lesson about conventions: you have to learn to roll with the crazy moments, and not sweat the small stuff too much. My secret favorite moment of the Con is to slip backstage just before the rave starts up, or just before a big event like a concert is going to happen. I wait for the moment the lights hit, and the crowd makes that amazing rolling roar of sound that’s so full of excited anticipation. It just makes me want to jump up and down and cheer. I love knowing that people have a great time, it’s very energizing.

Now and then I get to meet someone who joins us as staff or as a guest who really touches my heart. Hideko Tamura Snider was one such person. She was ten years old when her home in Hiroshima was destroyed by an atomic bomb, and her thoughtful eloquence and inspired writing are amazing. She wrote a book called One Sunny Day about her memories of the bombing, what came before, and what has happened since. Meeting her and talking for a while about the book made me really rethink a lot of things about my own way of living. She is just a truly inspiring lady, and I admire her very much. Read the book if you have the chance.

Why did you join staff? I was always hanging out in the Artist Alley bothering friends and looking at the pretty original stuff. Eventually, I asked if I could help, and the next year I was volunteering full time for the Con. I met all these amazing, fun, dedicated people who had the gift of grace under pressure, and this adventuresome spirit I really admired. I never left.

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more? The community is what matters most. Remember we’re all fans of this genre that is as diverse and wide-ranging as the fans who love it, and every one of those fans deserves respect. There’s enough bullying and rudeness in the world, ACen is our place to be with people who like the things we like. Whether they’re into Naruto, or DBZ, or One Piece, or Panty & Stocking, or something obscure that’s just coming out, when we subdivide and make fun of other fans, we’re acting exactly counter to the reason we all get together. Be kind to your fellow Otaku! And Get Soap, okay?

Also: Volunteer! We love to have bunches of new folks on the team, because they bring new perspectives and ideas. Plus, there’s lots of good in it for you, as well! Not only can you earn back your badge, you’ll also meet some amazing people. Plus, you get great experience that can help you with experience for your resume, references for your work, and great answers to tough questions like, “How to you react to high pressure situations?” I’m proud to be a professional reference for lots of folks on the team, and if you do a good job I have no qualms about telling a prospective employer that.

Have you ever met an ACen Staffer who went above an beyond at con and just made your experience that much better? Tell us about it in the comments!