Remarks from Carol Spruill, incoming president

Remarks to NC Women’s Forum

Carol Spruill, President for 2012-2013

I would like to present Pat this gift as a token of our appreciation for her extraordinary leadership this year. This birdhouse, handcrafted in the Philippines and sold by 10,000 Villages, is for your beautiful deck where you have entertained us so graciously this year.

I started to give myself a gift – a pair of really big shoes. Then I realized that Pat had given me these already.

Thank you for this gift, Pat. But your big shoes are impossible to fill.

Pat has given this organization her heart and soul, and time, and money this past year.

She has generously, and anonymously until I out her – paid the bills for food for some of our events, and even sponsorship registrations when she thought the Women’s Forum should be represented with other women’s organizations.

I will not be doing that – so get in our paid memberships so we will have the funds to thrive!

Pat has devoted a huge portion of our year to organizing a whole new organization – NC Women Matter – to galvanize the women’s vote.

She has generously agreed to stay on as head of this effort until the November elections. Thank you, Pat.

She has taken so many initiatives. One was the Recruitment Party last fall. She asked all board members to go through their Rolodexes and miraculously, everyone did. We invited many women to a fun evening at Pat’s lovely home. Neill McLeod gave a rousing speech on our history. Many new women joined as a result of that exciting evening.

I will carry on this tradition at my house sometime this fall and invite all of you to visit your Rolodex and think of the women you want to invite. Of course, all who give me names are invited to the event! And all who bring a dish are invited to the event!

Pat took the initiative to have our first Board Retreat in a long while. I will continue that tradition this summer and that will be the first meeting of this very exciting and energetic board that Karen and Pat recruited – thank you Karen and Pat for that! I want to thank Linda Suggs for returning to the position of Secretary, and to thank Valerie Fields for returning to the position of Treasurer. Not everyone is good at doing these essential jobs so it is crucial to have your talent. I thank Lisa Grafstein profusely for agreeing to be our Vice-President and the promise that brings of her future Presidency. I thank all the new members of the board who are joining us and those who are returning, as well as those who are “retiring.” We have another talented and energetic group for our leadership this year and we will have lots of fun.

Pat took the initiative to get our long-talked-about Membership Survey out during her administration, under the leadership of Anne Franklin – thank you Pat and Anne for that!

The response was incredible – 37 of you took the time to give very thoughtful feedback. Nearly one-third of our members responded.

I have combined some of my thoughts about what I would want to do in my year as President with some of the wealth of ideas that you gave us in your responses to the Membership Survey.

I will devote the rest of my remarks to what I hope will be new initiatives this year. I welcome your feedback, your additional ideas, and, of course, your time and talents to make this happen.

You are an incredible group of people, in an incredible organization, and I want us to take full advantage of this – both for the health of our organization and its mission, as well as for the enhancement and enjoyment of our lives.

As an organization, we already have activities that have purpose. Our website states, “The Women’s Forum of NC is a vehicle through which women are effective agents for constructive change by speaking out and taking action on public issues, through the development of potential women leaders, and as a force for the enhancement and enrichment of the lives of all women.”

We do and have done this through:

  • the creation of the NC Center for Women in Public Service, that we still give money to, as we are able.
  • the monitoring of “super boards and commissions”
  • and now NC Women Matters

And we already have a wealth of activities

  • Monthly luncheons in the Triangle
  • Luncheons in other areas of the state
  • Our bi-annual statewide meetings

Further, our website states:

“The Women’s Forum of NC provides women of proven influence and high personal achievement opportunities for strengthening personal development through exchange of information, expertise, ideas and experience, as well as a strong support network.”

The following are ideas for doing more of this.

I would like us to take advantage of our network, and talents, and positions, and knowledge, for many mini activities:

  • MANY = as in lots
  • MINI = as in smaller subgroup activities that don’t depend on all of us being available at the same time.

For lack of a better word, I’ll call these Field Trips.

Here are some examples:

  • Attending a trial before Superior Court Judge Manning in the on-going Leandro case. Linda Suggs has already volunteered to take a small group with her and then go to lunch afterwards for her to lead a discussion on education issues.
  • While we are talking about courts, how many of you have attended a session of the NC Supreme Court or Court of Appeals? We have many members who sit on these courts and they can alert us to a case that might be of interest to our members – we could go as a small group and plan an activity – or tour afterwards.
  • [Note: audience members responded that the Court of Appeals is about to hear the Leandro Case on appeal in June – an opportunity to combine both suggestions above. Several members will work on describing this opportunity and we will be sending you information on it.]
  • Let’s get physical! Maybe Anne Franklin will take members for a hike to draw attention to the Walnut Creek Corridor. [She confirmed that she will.] Anne also mentioned activities around advocacy for public transit, development of the “Festival in Motion,” and she said, in general “…get folks outdoors, amplify the value of the natural and human environment…” and other ideas.
  • Many of you know the General Assembly all too well, but others might appreciate an “insider tour” and lunch there.
  • How about an insider’s tour of the Asheboro zoo with a follow-up discussion of privatization proposals?
  • Might our members want a tour of the School of Math and Science? (One of our newest members is Vice-Chancellor Melissa Thibault.)
  • Members suggested field trips to:
    • the Sandhills to learn about our state’s pottery tradition; or a theatre outing to support the NC Theatre;
    • the Walnut Creek Wetland Center
    • Exploris Middle School
    • the Urban Design Center
    • the Poe Center
    • Marbles
    • the AIA building
    • the Museum of Natural Science
    • a trip to Interact or other DV centers
    • a trip to Greensboro and the Civil Rights Museum
    • [Members made other suggestions from the floor including the History Center in New Bern and the Research Center in Kannapolis.]

I’m not promising that all this will happen this year. But any of these activities, or similar events, can happen if you are inspired to organize one of these outings.

We also have ideas for programs. Here are examples in, or inspired by, your survey responses:

Substantive topics through member expertise:

  • Food sustainability – one of our members is founder of the NC Farm Center for Innovation and Sustainability, is active with community supported agriculture, and is working on path-breaking research – does this suggest another field trip?
  • Integrative medicine – an explanation, followed by a yoga session?
  • Disability Rights
  • Gender identity and LGBT issues
  • Medical coverage and reform
  • The role of nonprofits in the state
  • Funding of public education, and the recruitment and retention of high quality public school teachers
  • Criminal justice system reform
  • Immigrants’ rights
  • Rural poverty
  • And many more

We could offer skills training as well, possibly including sessions such as:

  • time management
  • speech-making tips
  • Myers-Briggs training – Kendall Hageman has already agreed to conduct this

Other mentions:

  • Getting us more involved in the annual Emerging Issues Forum – perhaps registering as a group to attend
  • a program on the life of public service in retirement
  • starting a public interest career

A couple of ideas for taking advantage of this, I’d like to run by you:

  • For next spring’s biannual meeting, would enough of you be willing to go to Greensboro? Pat suggested Friday night at the Civil Rights Museum and Saturday at Bennett College – a historically Black women’s college – at its Global Learning Center.
  • For next fall’s bi-annual meeting, might you attend a longer Saturday session where we break up the day in, say, four workshop periods with, say, two sessions each? This might be a good time to put a Myers Briggs training option at the end of the day.

On the survey, you have anonymously volunteered:

  • to work on growing the membership
  • to do program development
  • to Chair the membership committee
  • to do program logistics
  • to be a writer and editor
  • to teach and train
  • to do voter turnout
  • to serve on the board
  • to do Myers Briggs training
  • to be in charge of organizing regional meetings
  • to seek out good lunch venues for monthly meetings

For god’s sake – who are you?

I will be sending you emails and asking you to identify yourselves.

I will also send a template for you to describe and volunteer to lead projects and field trips – How many spots are available? What is the minimum number for the activity to proceed? If there is any cost to members to attend, what is it? Is it a set date, or a negotiated date for those interested? Etc.

I could go on, but we need lunch. We will continue to develop these ideas with the board this summer and you will be hearing more.

In the meantime, please go ahead and send me emails. I promise to respond after my son’s wedding on June 2.

Thanks for all you did this year and for all that we anticipate you contributing this year, and thanks again to Pat for a spectacular year!

I look forward to our fun and productive times together this coming year!




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