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Letter from the National President Evelyn B. Wofford, Summer 2021

More Reflections

On May 22, the Hayward (California) Arts Council hosted an online reception to support the fifth annual “Celebrate Women!” NorCal multimedia exhibition, which runs virtually until July 17. The National president of NLAPW was privileged to attend and was reminded once again of the tremendous talent that exists in this phenomenal organization. Following the reception, Pat Doyne of the Diablo-Alameda Branch, one of the five Northern California branches that make up the NorCal Association, wrote to Branch President Winnie Thompson:

“This afternoon’s reception showed the cooperation among five NLAPW branches and among all those Pen Women facilitating videos, speaking, performing, and hosting. It was a benchmark event and will be referenced as an example of what partnership can look like. Cheers!”

Indeed, it was a prime example of the way in which our membership has adapted to the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and embraced the use of technology, whether it wanted to or not. This president is extremely grateful for all the invitations to join Zoom meetings and to be a participating member of many branches.

It has been heartening to see Pen Women from one coast to the other attending presentations by Pen Women that they may never have otherwise been able to hear. I have no doubt that this sharing will continue even after the pandemic frees us from its social constraints.

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Poster for NorCal’s “Celebrate Women!” show

Increasing membership continues to be one area of concern among most of the branches. Recently, I have attended several branch meetings that have highlighted activities that can be used to increase awareness of the League and to generate an interest in joining. The national chair for membership development has appointed several subcommittees to address areas of concern. In the past three years, there have been at least 12 articles in our Pen Woman magazines relative to membership.

I wish to highlight some ideas (there were many more than these few) shared at two Zoom meetings that I have attended recently. Wilma Davidson and Diana de Avila of the Sarasota Branch (Florida) shared the following:

  • Be sure that your current membership is actively engaged in your branch activities. Energized and active members generate interest in the organization.
  • Arm your members with materials that they can distribute about the League and the branch, such as brochures and business cards that include the NLAPW logo.
  • Train your membership chair to be a scout in the community and to follow through with member suggestions from other branch members.
  • Train your membership to cultivate potential members who can benefit the organization and contribute to the community. Personal contact is still the best means of garnering new members.
  • Branches that can afford to give student or community awards have found this to be a very good means of recruitment.

Julie Cohn and Mary Fineman of the Diablo-Alameda Branch shared these ideas:

  • Target an age group that may have a particular interest in NLAPW, such as established professionals in the middle-aged and older group, or up-and-coming professionals in the 18-to-35-years age group. This younger group may wish to have mentors or guidance for growing in their field. The established professionals may wish to have an association with like-minded individuals.
  • Research sources for potential members — colleges and universities, social media, other organizations.
  • Contact potential members by phone or in person. Briefly share what NLAPW is and why you belong.
  • Invite potential members to events such as concerts, workshops, exhibits, and certainly to branch meetings. Currently, these may be online.
  • Assign branch members in the same or a similar field to follow up with a recruit, explaining the benefits of belonging to the League, offering mentorship if that seems appropriate, and connecting them with opportunities to enhance their career.

Branches across the United States are regularly recruiting new members. I know this to be true because the League has gained 74 new members during the COVID year of 2020. This number is more than in 2019 and certainly shows that “creatives” can be creative regardless of the circumstances.

For the branches that appear to have lost some of their enthusiasm during these COVID months, perhaps some of these suggestions will be an encouragement to begin anew the effort to help our branches grow.

The mission of this organization is “to encourage the production of creative work of professional standard in art, letters, and music; and through outreach activities, provide educational, creative, and professional support to members and nonmembers in these disciplines.” Our purpose is to encourage and support the arts in our communities.

The essence and the heart of the organization reside in the branches and in the individual members-at-large who promote the arts wherever they may be. The National office is an administrative entity that allows the membership across the United States to function. Executive Assistant Lisa DesRochers-Short and I are here to help individual members and branches in any way that we can. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, concerns, suggestions, or just to talk.

See President’s Letters Archive for past letters.