by By Kaylee Hultgren | February 01, 2009

David Noonan"I began as a paperboy. I wasn't too pleased having to lug wet paper in 20-below weather..." 

David Noonan, deputy vice president and COO of the San Francisco-based American Academy of Ophthalmology, was the recipient of last year's Professional Performance Award, given by the American Society of Association Professionals and ASAE & The Center, for his contributions as an association executive. Last month, Noonan retired after more than 40 years in the medical meetings profession.

What has been a highlight of your career? To paraphrase Nelson Mandela, "It wasn't the pain or the victories, it was the people I met along the way."

What was your first job?
I began as a paperboy, in Casper, Wyo.; 140 papers, six days a week. I wasn't too pleased having to lug wet paper in 20-below weather, but I loved the customer interface of collecting biweekly subscriptions. Great schmooze time!

Do you have any advice to those just getting started in association management?
If you can't go home each night feeling that at least one thing you did that day made the life of your membership and society a better place, then you are in the wrong career.

What's the greatest professional compliment you've ever received?
I have two. The first is that my wife leaves the door open for me to come home each night. The second was being elected as a Life Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Any plans for your retirement?
Boredom, fishing, exercise, home repair -- in that order.