Size and Election of National Board: Proposal One

THESE PROPOSALS ARE TO DISCUSS CONCEPTS ONLY.  ACTUAL LANGUAGE WILL BE DRAFTED AT A LATER TIME.

Watch the webinar recording for Number of National Officers and Size & Election of National Board.  

We encourage you to use the PowerPoint presented at the webinar and the Structure Modernization Discussion Guide to help facilitate conversations in your networks.  


Six District Proposal:

  • NOW would have six electoral districts for the national board
    • Primarily for diverse geographic distribution on board
    • More or less the same by population, NOW membership, electoral votes & major media markets
    • Re-drawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts
  • Each district would have a minimum of 2 delegates to board
    • Entitled to a third board member if the delegation is racially/ ethnically diverse
    • No more than 2 delegates from one state
    • Terms of 2 years, maximum 2 consecutive terms
  • Election of Board members
    • Candidates must meet bylaw qualifications
    • Elections would be held in district caucuses at National Conferences
  • This structure:
    • Establishes districts on a more effective basis to move NOW’s agenda forward
    • Retains national board’s geographical and racial/ethnic balance
    • Results in a smaller, more efficient board (maximum members, including officers is 21)
    • Eliminates the need for an additional conference to elect board every two years
    • Allows flexibility for change as population shifts

Posting Instructions

1. If you want to share your thoughts on a proposal (remember these are just concepts, the actual language will be developed later), write your reply in the text box below the words Leave Reply, and in the box “Enter your comment here…”

 

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3. You MUST put your full name and chapter affiliation before every comment you leave. If a comment does not have a name and chapter affiliation it will not be approved. This is to ensure that only NOW members are commenting.

4. Remember be respectful and friendly! All NOW members want to work to improve the organization and it takes collaboration and patience on our part as a grassroots organization to make sure that all of our members voices are heard – even those with whom we may disagree with.

5. Be creative and don’t be afraid to say what you think! It is vital that you share your opinions — in order to create the best proposals possible we need to know what all of the members think! This site is for YOU to have your voices heard.

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30 thoughts on “Size and Election of National Board: Proposal One

  1. I favor two reps from each electoral district each from different states with a third reserved for a person of color if neither of the two reps is a person of color. I do not favor adding an alternate. It is already difficult to do business with some people attending every other meeting or every third meeting. Those who don’t regularly attend are not well informed about the rationale for decisions and the issues facing the organization. It just doesn’t get translated into minutes which often are not provided until just before the next meeting months later. When people run for national board they need to realize they will need to set aside their paid jobs or unpaid responsibilities for a Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday three or four times a year, depending on the travel time to the meetings. Although a Webinar-style national board meeting can work to save travel costs, it takes in-person meetings and social interaction to develop a high-functioning board.

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  2. PA NOW opposes the six electoral district option, preferring the current 9 or the 7 region proposal, as a compromise. The electoral districts exist solely to elect the board. Reducing the number of regional members from 3 to 2, but retaining a diversity seat, may be a good compromise to keep maximum geo-representation and encourage diversity. We also support the idea that regions can decide for themselves where they will meet for purposes of electing reps to the Board – either within the region or at National NOW Conference. Either way, it doesn’t solve the problem of every member being able to cast a vote. The way things stand, you have to be able to travel either regionally or to the national conference to cast a vote.

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    • One more thought: Regions (electoral districts) could also elect a third “alternate” person who only fills in if one of the other two elected representatives can’t make a meeting.

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  3. Susan, I just attended a state presidents meeting on Fuze, a software that is kind of like Skype for groups. I loved it! It was the best of both worlds, seeing actual faces and talking together in real time. The resistance to more virtual meetings and management in NOW seems to be concern that not all members have online access.

    True, but are any of those members active in leadership? And if they wanted to be, couldn’t they use the computers at a public library?

    With larger regions, we need more chances to see one another, elect our board representatives meaningfully (which was not the case where I’m from), and compare notes on actions. Technology is the way to achieve these aims. Travel costs a lot more than an internet connection, and it also helps rural states like mine (Arkansas) hold meetings with a wider diversity of members and friends.

    Best, Kae Chatman, Arkansas NOW

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  4. With the knowledge that each board seat could represent vastly different numbers of members, I think it is wise to make a change so we are more equally represented by the board. Looking at the different options, it is my opinion that the 7-region option presented in the comments is a good option. It’s not necessarily perfect, but it’s workable.
    (For the two really big regions, maybe there’s a way for each to do two mini-regional conferences and they can video conference each other so at least some interact in-person. For instance, a mini-conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the other in Seattle, Washington. Just an idea…)

    On the webinar, most participants seemed to like the mid-sized board. If we are looking at costs, the 7-region option seems to be in that range.

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  5. Of course any grouping of chapters can meet with each other and work together and the proposed bylaws would not prevent that. Those in the same media market or economic region of the country could benefit by regional conferences perhaps. Nothing in the proposed bylaws should prevent that, but regional meetings should not be imposed on us who don’t want to meet and who are so geographically dispersed that we can’t meet realistically due to cost and travel time. The northeast is very different from the rest of the country. Even some states have difficulty with a well-attended state conference due to cost and travel time. We are trying to design something that would get us geographically dispersed national board members and determine the size of the national board

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    • I am concerned about the emphasis on media markets. This would mean that those of us in fly-over states would be lumped with some distant city and would probably never be able to attend a meeting or conference.
      Electing board members at the National Conference would really curtail the input of the grassroots on their election. Many people can only get to National Conferences when they are nearby. So your board would lose key items of diversity – urban versus rural, large state versus small state and, probably, affluent versus poor.

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  6. Some of us actually work together within our Regions. I think keeping geographically close Regions is important. Regions are not just for electing national board members. I would suggest that any way we are divided up that it should be not too large for a Region not to be able to meed occasionally and work together. Regions helping each other out and working together should be encouraged!

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  7. Look, the electoral districts don’t need to be comprised of states or states near each other at all because it is just a way to divide our 66,000 people into manageable sizes to elect national board members. One could just do it alphabetically by your last name, alphabetically by your state of residence, by zip code of your mailing address, or your chapter number as long as the voting districts are the same size in voting power. Take geographical proximity out of the mix of your thinking because we will not be having regional conferences to elect regional national board representatives any more under the current proposed bylaw amendment. Until we can get to accessible electronic and mail voting to directly elect national board members, we just need a way to divide people up into smaller groups at the national conference to elect national board reps. As to whether we will have 6 or 7 electoral districts with 2 or 3 members each is a budget decision. What is the cost of each national board member to our budget?

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  8. Now that the proposed bylaws have been posted, I’m commenting here re: regions vs electoral districts. The following is an alternative proposal/compromise for seven regions based SOLELY on membership rather than on electoral districts that don’t reflect who we are. This is based on communications – emails and phone calls held over the last 2 months with members of the NOW grassroots.

    THOUGHTS BY NOW MEMBERS ON REGIONAL BREAKDOWNS

    General Overview

    Over the last 2 months or so, members of the grassroots of NOW from around the country started emailing each other regarding the proposed 6-electorial district design of NOW’s current nine regions. The electoral district proposal was based on Congressional districts, media markets, and other metrics that many of us did not quite understand. After some initial discussion, it became clear that many members want regional breakdowns to be based solely on NOW membership in the belief that NOW’s regions need to reflect the membership in a fair and reasonable manner.

    So Marian Bradley contacted Patricia Ireland and asked her for information on NOW membership and more details on how the Modernization Committee came up with their six-region electoral district proposal. She also asked for a current summary of NOW’s membership broken down by state, which she received on March 1, 2015.

    Then Joanne Tosti-Vasey, taking the comments asking for regions based solely on membership used the state membership breakdowns to create proposals for newly revised regions.

    Currently there are nine regions. The Modernization Committee presented six electoral district regions as a new proposal in order to reduce the size of the board. Working with the nine as a maximum and six as a minimum, we initially created three proposals based on membership size of each state:

    • A Nine-Region model that could either keep the current 27 member board size
    o These nine regions would either maintain the current 27 member board or It could be used to reduce the membership of the board to 18 members with each region only electing 2 board members for that region; and
    o If reduced to 18 members, each region would always be able to elect one board member. If they choose to do so, they could also elect a second member who is a person of color (and/or a person with a disability if the second seat were to be turned into a Diversity seat rather than solely a person of color seat). Note, regions could theoretically have two people (2×9=18 total board members) elected who both meet the person of color requirement of our current bylaws.

    • A Six-Region model was created to mirror the Modernization Committee’s idea of six regions but in this case, based on NOW membership rather than any other criteria. This results in a potential board size of 18 elected members on the board In this scenario, there would be two seats open to anyone. The third seat in each region would be open to either a person of color or a person of diversity.

    • A compromise Seven-Region model was also created based solely on membership. This results in 21 members on the board with one seat for each region held for either a person of color and/or a person of diversity (e.g., person with a disability)

    These three models were then sent out to some grassroots members around the country and feedback was requested. The six-region model was universally discounted. The consensus was that this model is geographically too unwieldy to be workable. This is particularly true for the western half of the country where states are geographically large and membership is relatively smaller.

    After reviewing all of the comments we received from the grassroots, we have decided to present the seven-region model based solely on NOW membership to the NOW WordPress site because most of the grassroots members who responded said they preferred the nine-region model, but could live with the seven-region proposal. Below we will summarize both the seven and nine-region models and the discussion that ensued. Maps depicting the current nine regions and the proposed seven-region revision can be found at http://civilrightsadvocacy.net/about/proposal-for-seven-now-regions/ since we cannot attach images to this NOW website.

    The Two Regional Models

    General NOTE: There are 39 people who are not represented in any region either currently or in our two proposed models. Decisions where to place these people need to be made at some point, but due to the small numbers, they do not affect the relative size of any region. These members are listed as “Foreign” residents (27), Canadians (1), and members of the military serving in the Americas (2), Europe (7), and Pacific (2).

    Current Nine-Regions

    The current nine regions were created two decades or more ago and no longer represent the makeup of NOW throughout the country.

    Currently (as of March 1), the smallest region by membership is the Mid-South (Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana) with 1,611 members. The largest region is the Southwest (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands) with 12,640 members. See http://civilrightsadvocacy.net/about/proposal-for-seven-now-regions/ for the map of the current 9 region set up; this FYI, is the map that was presented during the webinar in January on regions

    The alternative Nine-Region Model.
    This model we presented retains the idea of 9 regions with either 18 or 27 board members. It is based solely on membership size. On March 1, 2015, there were a total of 66,120 members of NOW across the country.

    California has 10,535 members. Due to its overwhelming membership size as compared to the rest of the country, it was suggested to make California its own region.

    That left the remaining 55,585 members to be split up among the other proposed eight regions. The remaining eight regions would therefore, on average, each contain approximately 6,948 members. Using this as a target, the remaining 8 regions were created with membership sizes ranging from 5,527 to 7,665 members. Here are the proposed nine regions with membership counts for each region:

    • California – 10,535 members (a stand-alone state)
    • New York – 6,948 members (also a stand-alone state)
    o Contains all New York state members + the one current virtual chapter whose majority of their 11 members reside in New York)
    • “East Coast Central” region – 7,665 members
    o Delaware
    o New Jersey
    o Ohio
    o Pennsylvania
    • “Northeast” region – 5,527 members
    o Connecticut
    o Massachusetts
    o Maine
    o New Hampshire
    o Rhode Island
    o Vermont
    • “Southeast” region – 7,178 members
    o Washington, DC
    o Georgia
    o Maryland
    o North Carolina
    o South Carolina
    o Virginia
    • “Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Islands and nearby” region – 6,690 members
    o Alabama
    o Arkansas
    o Florida
    o Kentucky
    o Louisiana
    o Mississippi
    o Puerto Rico
    o Tennessee
    o Virgin Islands
    o West Virginia
    • “Lake Michigan” region – 6,641 members
    o Illinois
    o Indiana
    o Michigan
    o Wisconsin
    • “Central” region – 7,257 members
    o Iowa
    o Kansas
    o Minnesota
    o Missouri
    o North Dakota
    o Nebraska
    o New Mexico
    o Oklahoma
    o South Dakota
    o Texas
    • “Western and Pacific Islands” region – 7,640 members
    o Alaska
    o American Samoa
    o Arizona
    o Colorado
    o Guam
    o Hawaii
    o Idaho
    o Montana
    o Nevada
    o Oregon
    o Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
    o Utah
    o Washington state
    o Wyoming

    The Proposed Seven-Region Model

    This model is a compromise between the six- and nine-region models based on current membership. It reduces the number of regions and the size of the board to 21 members. States are placed within regions based solely on membership size. On March 1, 2015, there were a total of 66,120 members of NOW across the country.

    Our goal was to create these seven regions containing an average of 9,445 members. Using this as a target, we created the seven regions with membership sizes ranging from 8,163 to 10,535 members. Again California stands alone as a region state. Go to http://civilrightsadvocacy.net/about/proposal-for-seven-now-regions/ to see a map of these seven regions.

    Here are the proposed seven regions with membership counts for each region.
    • California – 10,535 members (a stand-alone state)
    • “New York and Pennsylvania” region – 9,859 members
    o New York
    o Pennsylvania
    o The one current virtual chapter (New York based)
    • “Northeast and Mid-Atlantic” region – 10,424 members
    o Connecticut
    o Delaware
    o Massachusetts
    o Maryland
    o Maine
    o New Hampshire
    o New Jersey
    o Rhode Island
    o Vermont
    • “Southeast and Atlantic Islands” – 9,565 members
    o Washington, DC
    o Florida
    o Georgia
    o North Carolina
    o Puerto Rico
    o South Carolina
    o Virginia
    o Virgin Islands
    • “Great Lakes and nearby” region – 9,179 members
    o Illinois
    o Indiana
    o Kentucky
    o Michigan
    o Ohio
    o Wisconsin
    o West Virginia
    • “South and West” region – 8,345 members
    o Arkansas
    o Arizona
    o Kansas
    o Louisiana
    o Missouri
    o Mississippi
    o New Mexico
    o Nevada
    o Oklahoma
    o Tennessee
    o Texas
    o Utah
    • “Northwest, Prairie, and Pacific Islands” region – 8,163 members
    o Alaska
    o American Samoa
    o Colorado
    o Guam
    o Hawaii
    o Idaho
    o Iowa
    o Indiana
    o Minnesota
    o Montana
    o North Dakota
    o Nebraska
    o Oregon
    o South Dakota
    o Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
    o Washington State
    o Wyoming

    Comments from Reviewing NOW members

    After creating these proposed regions, we sent out a PowerPoint set of slides visualizing these regions as well as an excel spreadsheet to the reviewing group. Go to http://civilrightsadvocacy.net/about/proposal-for-seven-now-regions/ to see aslide visually depicting the current nine regions and the proposed seven regions.

    Comments on Six Region Proposal Based on Membership Only

    There was a general consensus that the six-region proposal is unworkable. This sample of comments are indicative of the kinds of the comments we received on this proposal:

    • The 6 region proposal is way too huge of a geographical area to be representative of the membership.

    • NOW regions should first and foremost be represented by actual NOW members not media outlets. The six region model does not answer the issues of how to increase participation and voting on a regional level which is why many people wanted to look how our regions were divided in the first place

    • Being in the NW Region my only negative thought is that if we only have 6 Regions the NW Region will be huge geographically which may make it a bit unwieldy since we are a region that actually does do some work together as a region. For voting purposes and delegate selection I think all of these will work, including if we only have 6 Regions. (note, this was the only somewhat positive comment we received regarding the 6-region model)

    Comments on the Seven v. Nine Region Proposals Based Only on Membership

    There was a mixed review about the seven versus nine region models. In general people preferred keeping nine regions with some agreeing that the seven-region model was a decent compromise. These are a sampling of the comments we received on the seven and nine-version models:

    In Support of the Nine Region Proposal

    • I don’t see the need to compromise to make an ill-conceived idea more acceptable.

    • My preference is also 9 regions, and to encourage the regions to actually help with chapter development, etc – do some real work. If regions do what they were originally intended to do, then it is essential that they are not so big that they can’t accomplish anything. Eliminating a few board seats is not the answer; let’s use our board members and insure that they are working within the regions.

    • I support the current model [9 regions] with real change coming through clear responsibilities for board members and fewer in person meetings for the entire board.

    • Diversity-related comments supporting the continuance of nine regions
    o When we look at the make up of the boards today and past there’s not a lot of DIVERSITY with the way it is structured (for whatever the reason that is). To go to a smaller number of regions will not be good for women of Color to participate as board members
    o It is wrong to reduce the board at a time when women of color are joining and becoming chapter leaders.
    o We have few enough women of color already and fewer board slots mean fewer sisters of color at a time when we need more, many, many more.

    In Support of or Willingness to Support Seven-Region Model

    • The layout of 7 regions is the best compromise, since the goal seems to be fewer board members. Six is way too few and nine doesn’t help us lower the number of board members ultimately.
    • My feedback is that I prefer the 9 regions and can live with the 7 region proposal.

    General Comment about regions

    There was one general comment about all of the regional proposals that gives the general sentiment of many, but not all, who responded to the email:

    [Rather than dealing with makeup of the regions,] Our modernization efforts should focus on grassroots NOW chapters and how the regional reps can build and support them. Putting those chapters into a larger pool are the opposite of the direction we should be heading.

    Joanne Tosti-Vasey
    Mid-Atlantic NOW Regional Director
    At-Large Member, Pennsylvania NOW Executive Committee
    Vice-President-Action, Ni-Ta-Nee NOW (PA0555)

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    • Joanne, thank you for your hard work and for making composition of the regions clearer. I was inclined to support the nine regions to get any cohesiveness even though the center is huge. However, the swath across the north and west seems to have more in common. That is my major concern. The Board members should be representatives of their region, people grassroot members will feel comfortable consulting with their concerns.

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  9. I like the idea of electoral districts and using them to both make us geographically diverse and control the size of the national board at the same time.

    Several commenters have decried the small number of people voting for national board members whether in regional meetings every two years or at a national conference where few from long distances away will have a chance to be there to elect their national board members. Electronic voting is an alternative that is possible and should be strongly considered along with the provision of mailed ballots for those without internet access.

    The AAUW is now in the period for members to vote on candidates for its national board. Learn all about it quickly at this link: http://www.aauw.org/resource/national-election/

    The AAUW method requires that each member have a pin. In AAUW’s case, they put the pin on the mailing label of the magazine they send every member. However, a postcard from our national action center would do as well since we no longer have national paper publications. That postcard could contain a message about how to obtain a smail ballot through a phone call or letter to the national action center using the pin number provided. The cost of what the AAUW is doing for its national board elections needs to be obtained to see if the cost of wider participation is doable compared to current or any non-electronic proposed method.

    In reviewing the AAUW materials you will note additional differences in selecting candidates for its national board. It might spark some thinking about the best way to do it.

    Mary Pollock
    Legislative Vice President
    Michigan National Organization for Women

    Great Lakes Region Director
    National NOW Board of Directors

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    • Board members should represent NOW members or we loose all concept of grassroots.

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  10. I tend to agree with you about not reducing the size of the board or number of regions. I do not think our number is “unruly” and it affords greater participation.

    I actually find regions to serve a greater purpose than just electing national board members. Members, and especially active ones, in the NW Region do communicate with each other and share ideas. In fact, recently Marian Bradley (Montana NOW) spoke at a meeting of Central Oregon Coast NOW and also attended a NOW – Oregon Board meeting. I more frequently communicate with members from my region than I do members from other regions. I find this communication very helpful.

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  11. Your comments make eminent sense to me, Susan. It is not any increase in democracy but sacrificing it to make the board less “unwieldy” by cutting the number to 6. It further reduces the democratic element by electing the board at national conferences which are continually affected by lesser numbers from chapters that must come long distances and have added expenses. When chapters have to spend time fundraising to send delegates it can cut into their activism work, especially if they are a smaller chapter. Regional elections in the northwest at least have more people attending than go to the national conference.
    Linda Malanchuk-Finnan
    Thurston County NOW, WA state

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  12. The only purpose regions serve is to elect members of the national board. Cutting the number of regions to 6, and reducing the number of board members rather drastically makes the process even less democratic than it already is. In general, holding board elections at the National Conference, and permitting only those in attendance to vote still allows the board to be chosen by the tiniest fraction of the membership. And because those voters are not delegated, they represent no-one but themselves.
    I wish we could find a way to do one of two things: Have the board members elected through state organizations, perhaps with some rotation method, or have online or mail in voting so that all members who wish to do so can vote. Until we can manage either of those, we should leave things as they are. Having 6 regions does nothing to solve the real problem of how board members are chosen.

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  13. Linda Malanchuk-Finnan, Thurston County NOW (WA state)
    I like some of your points about alternative ways to do voting for regions, Susan. I can see what there are advantages and disadvantages to both ways, having regional conferences and voting there or voting at national conferences. I like the ability to decide per region and also to have flexibility within the region. It is hard for us to go to Alaska to vote but if we look at some electronic possibility, it could give us better involvement and democracy.

    I might suggest that California be its own region due to both its size and its membership density. I think the Northwest would feel more likely to have its ideas, concerns, perspectives be heard that way. Not that any large state automatically trumps another but logically where more chapters are working and fighting for our rights, there is the likelihood of louder voices. Then where there are fewer chapters over bigger spaces, we may NEED a voice to describe our situation and struggles.

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  14. I have an alternative proposal. I am on the board and agree wholeheartedly that it is too big to function well.

    What if each region/district got to elect a minimum of one board member and if they met a diversity requirement, was given the chance to elect a second board member. That would cut down the size of the board by about one third (from about 30 to around 20).

    I have heard people in regions that are dominated by one giant state (CA, TX, NY, etc) express that if we had a maximum of 2 board members per state, there should be a rule that no state could have more than one board member. That way, some regions/districts aren’t solely represented by people from the one giant state. Currently each region can elect 2-3 (depending on whether they meet the diversity requirement) and there is a rule that no more than 2 can represent one state. If we brought the max number of board members down to 1, it would make sense to bring the rule about max numbers of board members from a single state down, too.

    If people are concerned that the best two candidates are from one state and maybe no one from another state wants to run, we could allow the region/district to override the one board member per state rule with a super-majority vote. The number that is a super-majority could be 2/3 or it could be calculated based on membership in each state (so all of the voters in one giant state can’t constitute a super-majority). There are ways to ensure fairness here as well as flexibility.

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    • I guess I have been out of the loop, too long, but I never considered the size of the board unwieldy. It’s size meant a wide range of voices were heard. Feminists are not all cut from the same cloth and it doesn’t hurt anyone to hear other opinions. I’m sure reading a lot of them tonight. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited so long to respond to Patricia’s e-mail.

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  15. From Linda Malanchuk-Finnan, Thurston County NOW: I totally agree. I think it may also be part of a change in a way of thinking that is part of the idea of a smaller board and solving problems. I think there is a political problem of looking away from membership recruitment that is tied to political grassroots organizing. All our national financial membership activity takes place around mail campaigns with money requests because it is the way others do it and it is simpler. I believe it helped get us out of our financial hole along with other serious actions and discussions, but is it the way forward for the future? I don’t see it. Chapters are asking for more help on political campaigns and for tieing membership to them. There has been no political explanation for six regions other than a smaller board and definitely no explanation for what the new districts are supposed to do within their own boundaries. What kinds of campaigns might be expected from a given district and so what is the justification for the suggested array of states within given districts? I would appreciate hearing more on this.

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  16. When I heard the phrase “Give or Get” I wasn’t sure what it meant. A little bit of discussion quickly clarified the meaning. Give or get refers to some kind of requirement or expectation that a Board Member either donates or they fund raise. No set amount was envisioned.

    I didn’t like it without quite knowing why. So I set to mulling the matter over for a few days. My first thoughts were: location, location, location. Geography effects fund rising. Not every one lives in an area were fund raising for NOW on a large scale is practical. I thought back to my own time on the Board and realized that my living in a big liberal city created certain expectations of what I could/should do. I can best explain these expectations in a non-monetary context. The Board was discussing what Board Members could do to become part of or at least be a resource for one’s local newspaper’s editorial board. I laughed. When asked what was funny my answer was that my local daily was the New York Times. I suggested that National should be the one’s to work on that particular local newspaper. Living in the right spot was not enough. So my first bit of mulling lead me to knowing that the ability to “get” might be linked to location but I no closer to what was bugging me.

    My second bit of mulling lead me to a friend who at one time was on the board of a large well funded political non-profit’s PAC, that had a very large required “Give or Get” for it board members. My friend didn’t have either the “Give” or the ability to “Get” the amount of money that was required. The very rich men on the board very much wanted the wisdom of this particular feminist so they pitched in to make up her “Get”. I was now much closer to what is wrong about “Give or Get”. The ethics of this particular group were above reproach but it could have been a very different situation.

    My antenna was quivering. A flat out “Give or Get” was wrong but I and countless Board Members had worked on fund raising for National NOW events and issues so maybe it was the requirement part that was my problem. I got as far as “a willingness to engage fund raising activities” as one qualification among others.

    This seemed workable for about 20 seconds. I realized I had been concentrating on the get and trying to figure out what was wrong with it. But there is a give, which means you can buy your way out. AND that’s the rub. You only have to “get” if you can’t “give” and that’s discrimination of the worst sort. That’s an exemption from what should be a duty based on class. If you are poor you have to get but if you have money you can give instead.

    This being NOW there is history. In the very early 70’s at a particular Regional Conference women unable to pay the registration fee had to work at the conference and wear different color badges. The conference, its decisions and resolutions, every thing about it was protested and declare null and void. It was, I believe, the first time we confronted our own classism. While no one has suggested anything so dumb since, we constantly struggle as individuals and as an organization with access and the cost of that access.

    So no “Give or Get” as a qualification or requirement or expectation. But that understanding would not preclude “a duty to engage in and cooperate with National NOW fund raising activities.” The idea being that everyone has to help get but no one can buy their way out.

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    • From Judi Polson, NOW-NYC: I completely agree. A “give/get” requirement for Board members works for the Metropolitan Opera or Metropolitan Museum of Art–those are great non-profits where wealthy people and their corporations can compete to outdo each other in their “generosity”, And to be fair, the rest of us do gain some side benefit from that competition. But it doesn’t work for a feminist, grassroots organization that challenges existing social norms. From my perspective, give/get is classist and a non-starter for NOW.

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    • I agree wholeheartedly about the inherent classism. I also want to point out that there are wonderful feminists who don’t have the personal wherewithal to launch fund raising activities. They should not be excluded from the Board.

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  17. Size and election of National Board

    Regions
    I need to get something out of the way. If new regions are created the people living in them should have the opportunity to name themselves as the Heartland did a number of years ago. This may seem silly to some but naming is a powerful thing and we should respect that power. We could create some simple rules like no names of people and the whole conference votes on all the names.

    Size
    I am not as concerned with the size of the Board as I am with the place of election and the relationship between the grassroots membership and the National Board. A board of 18 with 5 officers (that’s not a typo) would be fine.

    Place of election
    I agree with the idea of a National Board elected at regional caucuses at National Conferences. The Regional caucuses would indeed insure geographic diversity and help with Conference site bias.

    Relationship between the grassroots membership and the National Board
    If the National Conference remains the supreme governing body of NOW, then that body should be able to elect the group which is charged with carrying out the policies established by them. This increases the ties between the Board and the electorate. Furthermore having the election at the National Conference facilitates the formation of national slates representing interest groups with common goals. It also encourages a diversity of skills as the desire for such diversity would be part of slate formation.

    Terms
    I would like to see 4 year staggered terms with 1/3 of the Board elected every 4 years.

    Qualifications
    The current qualifications are inadequate. I believe a least 2 years as a chapter or state officer or state wide issues chair should be required.

    Proposals 2 &3
    I am completely opposed to any form of governance, which has one group electing a higher group, which elects a higher group. It gives me the heebie jeebies. Reminds me of the Central Committee. Remember when the US Senators were elected by their State legislators. No

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  18. My biggest concern about lowering the number of Board members (so that it is “smaller and more efficient”) is that it moves NOW away from the grassroots. Yes, more Board members means more opinions and is “less efficient”. But the results are not as good.

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    • Greetings, Steve. How do we know that “the results are not as good”? In terms of grassroots representation, fewer regions with more equal membership gives the board a more accurate grassroots feel. I agree that the six regions may be too small. the seven regions plan looks best to me.

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  19. Linda Malanchuk-Finnan
    Thurston County NOW (Washington State)
    My remarks stem from the most recent NW regional/state conference discussion as well as our firm trust in grassroots organizing for NOW as what sets us apart from other groups and what is our strength when it comes to political issues. First was that Board elections should not take place at National conferences. That is not democratic and leaves states which have to send people the farthest sending fewer due to financial concerns. Someone mentioned some regional gatherings having only 25 to vote on a representative. Having 25 is certainly better for such elections to represent our area than three at a national conference. You can also piggy-back state and regional conferences to make it feasible to come together.
    Second, The regional divisions of six do not make the best sense. Simply basing such divisions on membership numbers or media centers leaves out how these regions are to develop political collaboration. Nothing has been said about the politics of selecting states to be in the same regions, yet that is a big concern for the northwest. We want to have some commonality of political issues and environments. For example, Montana has little in common with Texas or New Mexico, yet is bunched in simply as part of “the West”. As part of the northwest region, we have had some opportunities to work together.

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    • Linda, I come from a region that has almost 4 times as many members as yours yet we have the same number of board members. I look at the new regions as a bringing greater equality to to the grass roots. If we kept the old regions but you had one board member and we had four would that be better?

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    • I think what works for some regions doesn’t work for others.

      I would like to see each region (or district, or whatever we want to call them) decide for itself whether to hold elections at a regional conference or at the national conference. Some regions will decide to hold them at regional conferences. Some will decide to hold them at the national conference.

      An alternative could be that if NOW does allow some kind of virtual voting (or voting my mail!), elections could be held that way.

      As chapter president of a chapter that hosted the last regional conference for our region and that has traveled far away to attend regional conferences, it neither organizing a regional conference nor traveling for 10 hours round trip to attend one is a very good use of our time and energy. We also have some active members whose health or physical ability to travel prevent them from taking long trips just to vote at a regional conference. I find that undemocratic.

      I would love to see options for ways to vote for board members that don’t involve hosting or traveling to a regional conference. But I would say that it should be optional. If regional conference voting is working for some and they don’t want to vote at the national conference, let’s not force anyone to do what doesn’t work for them. So either let regions decide how to hold elections or hold elections virtually or by mail.

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