Welcome to our next Member Spotlight, all about Maibella ni Rhoiden t’al’Varrak! Maibella is an Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, and currently serving as the Head of Ajah, or Head Clerk. It’s a coincidence that her spotlight came up in the rotation this week – when we’ve been highlighting relationships in our Community – because Maibella is married to Vendri al’Varrak, Gaidin of Dai M’Hael. They are a “Tower couple,” having met through our site and married in 2018. There were several Tower members who were able to attend their wedding, something which Maibella speaks of fondly.
Maibella is a native of the state of Maryland, and claims to have a lot of state pride. She is the proud mom of her son, a 2020 graduation who is now 19 years old and lives in California. She and Vendri have three fur children – dogs Copper, Penny and Bella (yes, they are all Disney names).
Professionally, Maibella is an Operations Manager for a “design/build firm that specializes in stream, wetland, and shoreline restoration projects.” Her volunteer work involves serving with an international student exchange program, helping match up incoming students to host families.
“I absolutely love it! I get to plan fun activities for the kids and learn about their cultures and languages. It’s an absolute blast. And even better is when we get to host a student ourselves. So far we’ve hosted two students and we’d be doing it again this year except that our local school isn’t accepting students due to the pandemic. I’m hopeful that one day I can take a trip across Europe and Asia staying only with my former exchange students and Tower people the entire way!”
Additionally, she loves hosting Tower parties, and is making plans to do more. (I’m ready for a trip to Maryland, who’s with me?! Or Tennessee is fine too… the couple is planning a move in 2022.)
I love asking interviewees how they find TarValon.Net, the answers are always varied and interesting! Here was Maibella’s response:
“I was an active book blogger when The Gathering Storm was being released. I applied for a position as a “Storm Leader” for the book signing at my local bookstore. The idea was that local bloggers and social media influencers would be selected to assist with the logistics at each book signing event and have an opportunity to meet Brandon Sanderson and Harriet McDougal, in return for promoting the event and the book. I was selected as a Storm Leader for my local event and got to have dinner with Brandon and Harriet and help out with the book signing. It was a ton of fun! I met Adolla Sedai because she was another of the Storm Leaders, and she invited me to join TarValon.Net… I didn’t check it out at the time. When Towers of Midnight was released I attended the book signing and ran into Adolla again, and she introduced me to several other Tower members who had come to town specifically for the signing. They convinced me to give the Tower a chance, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Once Maibella joined TarValon.Net, she started connecting with several of the Junior Members. (Including yours truly!) Some of them started an unofficial group called The Brandsworn, which involved things like riding weird animals and lots of spamming. She said what really connected everything for her was her first live event, JordanCon 2014. Being able to meet people in person really was important to her, and something she is looking forward to again.
Sleepy Hollow Fall Ball in 2019, including Maibella’s son and their exchange student.
Maibella was raised Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah in 2015. She is very “Gray” in real life, being someone who values seeing all sides of an issue, helping others do the same, and seeking balance. She has served in several leadership positions, including four years as Editor of our very own Tar Valon Times!
This spring, she took on the mantle of Head Clerk (Head of Ajah). It’s a position that she has had her eye on, but saw that this is a good time in her personal life to take it on. One of her main goals as Head Clerk is for people to know the Gray Ajah better. The Classroom recently held The Ajahs of TarValon.Net with Ajah Representatives, featuring a different Ajah each week. (It was fantastic!!) Maibella helped to lead the Gray Ajah’s week, and really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about Gray, and interact with not only the Junior Member students, but also other Senior Members who were participating.
Maibella also would like to see more JM’s guesting in Gray. There has been a lot of activity already this year, with as many as 8-9 guests at once! “I’d also like Gray to have a consistent schedule of game days. In the past we’ve sporadically gotten together (virtually) to play Cards Against Humanity or GeoGuessr and I’d love to see us be more consistent about that. We are spread very thin, with a large number of our members in Europe, so virtual events are a great way to bring us together.”
Personal connections with people is a very important ideal that comes across clearly when talking to Maibella. She said that the friendships she’s made in our community helped her work through difficult times, led her to meeting and marrying Vendri, gave her the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone by attending live events, and a place she enjoys to volunteer her time.
“I want this community to thrive both for the things it has given to me and for the opportunities it may give to others in the future. It is a special place and I want to do what I can to keep it that way.”