NLAPW National Level News

(See more news: News from Pen Women and Branch News.)


Letter from the National President Evelyn B. Wofford, Fall 2018

Cleaning the Garden — Still

Just so there is no misunderstanding, I abhor, despise, and detest weeds, and I hate all the physical activities necessary for their eradication. I began my tenure as president ridding the gardens at Pen Arts of weeds, and I am still trying to ride herd on the pesky little devils.

Many maintenance tasks befall the president of NLAPW, and having been on the board for the past four years, I was very much aware of what lay before me. Unfazed, I have tackled the issues as I would if I were handling them at my own home.

I have cleaned or replaced air conditioner filters (12 thus far); tackled drainage, plumbing, electrical, and appliance issues; made sure that the refrigerators were operating properly and were clean (all three of them); washed and folded bed linens and towels after the departure of guests; cleaned bathrooms (there are nine of them); dusted, vacuumed, swept, mopped as required (the two- or three-person cleaning crew works three hours a month, and this building has 21 rooms).

Some of the brush and weeds that NLAPW President Evelyn Wofford has been clearing at Pen Arts.

Maintenance issues I can handle — but these weeds.

Certainly, administrative tasks fall under the purview of the president. After all, administration is what the presidency is all about, isn’t it? How wonderful to be able to talk to League members, to officers of branches to address questions, to offer aid when problems arise or congratulatory remarks for achievements, to interact with board members as plans for the League are made! How important to see that policies and procedures are followed, a functioning filing system and database are in place, regular office hours are established, financial checks and balances are established, national board members understand and accept the responsibility of serving at the national level, and officers at the branch level understand and accept their responsibilities as well!

Administrative tasks I truly enjoy — but these weeds.

So why am I subjecting myself to the heat and humidity of this oppressive Washington summer? Because first appearances make a difference.

The first thing that a visitor sees when approaching the Pen Arts building is the garden area. I want a visitor to notice the deep-red blossoms of the crepe myrtles and the bright purple of the althea blooms, the sunny yellow flowers of the daylilies, which are struggling to maintain an appearance, and the purple spikes of the monkey grass border that fronts the beds. The weeds have to go so the garden can make its statement.

Pen Arts and NLAPW through its Board of Directors are making a statement as well. Numerous guests have visited these past several months, welcomed in most cases by the League’s charming Presidential Assistant and Director of Operations and Events Janea West.

The June board meeting was well attended and board members immersed themselves in the business of directing a nonprofit corporation. They studied the bylaws and standing rules of the League; familiarized themselves with policies and procedures; looked carefully at the League’s financial condition; and discussed very seriously how the League can address its mission of providing educational, creative, and professional support to members and nonmembers in the disciplines of art, letters, and music.

Among the actions that have been taken by the board are a revival of the League’s webinar and workshop initiatives for professional development and creative inspiration, opening Pen Arts for neighborhood events and tours, and promoting the fact that members and their families can stay at Pen Arts for a very reasonable fee while they visit Washington and can even stay for free if they perform assigned tasks for the League.

Webinars and workshops are already being advertised, and Pen Arts has hosted two musical events. On the evening of June 23 following the board meeting, the board and many local attendees were treated to a musical concert by pianist Grace Reid, violinist Simone Shuffet, and cellist Romain Olivier Gray. On Saturday afternoon, Aug. 4, neighbors were treated to a piano performance by Cameron Fuhrman, a doctoral student in piano performance at Eastman School of Music. 

On Sept. 1, Pen Arts was the venue for a reception given by friends and relatives of centenarian and World War II code breaker Angeline Nanni, celebrating her birthday and honoring her accomplishments. On Sept. 7, our newly renovated gallery space will be open to the public as part of the Dupont Circle First Friday Art Walk.

The flower that is our organization continues its struggle against the weeds that seem determined to asphyxiate it. There is a crisis of leadership at the branch and at the national level. An issue that has been raised by branch presidents is that it is difficult for them to find members willing to serve as an officer.

At the national level, several key offices remain unfilled. While applications for new members continue to be submitted, renewals of membership continue to decline. While cost-cutting measures have been severe, expenses for goods and services continue to increase.

And then there are the big surprises. In March, the League received a property tax bill for the tax year Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018, in the amount of $32,632.16 — of which half was due and paid in March and the second half to be paid in September.  On Aug. 14, the League received a revised property tax bill (prompted by an earlier inspection of the premises) for the same tax year of $49,275.40 due in its entirety by Sept. 15. Of course, this action is being challenged on several levels — but a major WEED.

One final weed that I will mention is negativism. I am not a Pollyanna, but I do believe that most hardships (read “weeds”) can be overcome by hard work, courage (out of absolute necessity the Board of Directors has voted to increase dues for next year by 42 cents per month — that is $5), and a positive attitude. I trust that all of the members of the National League of American Pen Women, Inc. believe in this organization as strongly as this administration does.

 — Evelyn Wofford


Scenes from Des Moines

Shutterbugs at the recent Biennial were asked to take photos in and around Des Moines for their chance to win some cash and booty. Pen Woman Sandy Huff sponsored the contest. Prizes were $25 for 1st place, $15 for 2nd, $10 for 3rd, and extra goodies for honorable mentions.

Winners were: 

First place: Darlene Yeager Torre, Central Ohio Branch

Second place: Anne Baehr, Pensacola Branch

Third place: Lucy Arnold

See the winning entries, plus honorable mentions and others.


Recent News

Reimagining PenWomen Online for Ongoing Professional Development

By Candace L. Long, NLAPW President (2014-2016)

New NLAPW President Evelyn Wofford asked me to propose a way to revive our webinar (i.e., online training) initiative called PenWomen Online.  Webinars were an important part of our outreach training from 2012 to 2016.

History of PenWomen Online

I became a member of the NLAPW Board of Directors in 2010. With a decadeslong background in broadcast production and a commitment to developing new revenue streams, I proposed PenWomen Online to the board and spent the first year surveying members’ needs and researching the logistics required to bring it to life.

Our first webinar, “How to Create an Online Presence,” was offered free and featured Lynne Spreen as the instructor. It took place Feb. 21, 2012, with a total of 20 participants. Once the board saw the potential of reaching members and

Pen Women online

 nonmembers from all over the country for an hour of professional development, our excitement built. We began the trial-and-error process to arrive at a reasonable webinar fee to help offset WebEx expenses and, at the same time, develop a new revenue stream by offering training that appealed to all classifications.

Since 2012, we have offered 24 webinars to some 300 participants and generated close to $2,500.

Our most popular topic, “Writing for TV and Film,” featured a writer-producer panel of experts: Maureen Sappéy (whose book, “Letters to Vinnie,” is in development as a TV series), Marilyn Atlas (an award-winning producer and personal manager of actors and writers), and the late Claudia Ann Reame, (writer/producer of a miniseries based on the life of her ancestor, Vinnie Ream). This webinar “sold out” with 28 participants and netted the League $390 for that one 60-minute webinar training.

Going Forward

During 2018-2019, the League will repackage and offer the top-eight recorded webinars, one a month from September through May:

• “Writing for TV & Film”

• “Weaving Historical Research into Your Books”

• “Wired for Creativity”

• “10 Keys to Writing Your Memoir”

• “Spreadsheets 101”

• “Intellectual Property for Creatives”

• “Composers Forum”

• “Artists: To Jury or Not?”

• “Professional Development in 3 Easy Steps”

Step 1: We will promote each recorded webinar through Constant Contact.

Step 2: If you want to view it, click on the PayPal link and pay the $20 fee. 

Step 3: We send you a link to download the webinar to your computer to view whenever you like.

We hope PenWomen Online will be part of your own professional development. Or, smaller branches may wish to use these archived webinars in their monthly meetings.   

Let Us Produce Your Webinar

Many of you produce truly great work deserving of its own webinar story. If you are interested in how to package what you do for online training, please contact me for particulars.

New Membership Developments You May Not Know About

By Bev Goldie, 2016-’18 National Membership Development Chair

It was a pleasure being your national membership development chair for the last administration. As I hand over the reigns to the next chair, I’d like to share a few updates and resources that you may not know about.

Here are highlights from the last two years:

  • We welcomed almost 25 percent more new members in the past two years than the previous two.
  • The NLAPW Board extended an invitation to Melania Trump as an honorary active art member. (Her jewelry designs qualified her). We received a letter back from the White House declining our request last January.
  • All of the applications for each type of membership classification are online and include instruction sheets as well as frequently asked questions.
  • There are two videos at that can be used in recruitment and retaining members. The newest one, “Why Be a Pen Woman,” is an inspiring tool to show perspective members.
  • There is a webinar pay-per-view on to learn how to use Excel for members. Perhaps these skills could assist the branch treasurers.
  • There are new guidelines prepared to assist any member to start a new branch.
  • We welcome performers and instructors now with our allied professional classification.
  • We now have a plaque at Pen Arts to celebrate the winner of the branch with the highest percentage of growth for each calendar year. Pensacola, Florida, was the first recipient, with an unbelievable 73 percent growth! (Read more in Branch News.)
  • We’ll update the names of the new credentials officers on the applications in the next few months. We’ll send a Constant Contact email to roll out this information.
  • Did you know that if you assist the National Headquarters office with at least four hours per day of approved tasks, you can stay overnight for free at the Pen Arts Building? You would need to call in advance and make arrangements. The rest of the time, you can explore D.C.!

We depend on you to tell us if there are any new ideas to attract or retain new members. Please stay in touch with the new Membership Committee and keep up the good work!