President's Corner — July 2015

C O M M U N I T Y   •   C O M M I T M E N T   •   C O U R A G E

Greetings! I finally have a moment or two to share some good news with you and to give a more personal glimpse of The Hague.

  • Hiring Staff
  • Executive Session
  • Update JAPA/WILF
  • Database/Communication
  • Short personal comments on The Hague

Hiring Managing Director

I promised to keep you up to date on our hiring process for a Managing Director primarily focused on finance and fundraising. Here's the good news: Since the notice of application went out a little over three weeks ago, 46 applications were received, which is very good as summer time is usually quite slow. Out of the 46 there are at least six (6) very qualified applicants... really outstanding applicants! And, yes, they were made aware of the salary range @ 50K+.

After the Personnel Committee has a chance to discuss the applicants, the candidates will be contacted for interviews with personnel committee members. Tentatively a July 31 meeting will allow the committee to discuss their recommendations on who should move on to the second and last round of interviews by the Personnel Chair, the Board President and other selected officers. Early August is our hope for the second round of interviews.    It appears we will be able to achieve our goal of having someone on board by Labor Day. The first round of interviews by Personnel Committee members starts this week.

Executive Session

In conjunction with hiring a new staff person, the WILPF US Board will do our best to make certain that the Managing Director enters into a solid and productive relationship with the Board. We have an unfortunate legacy of not retaining our staff. In order to facilitate a new and reaffirming working space, I called an Executive Session of the WILPF US Board for this week to better define the responsibilities of the positions that the board was elected to carry out. It is a time for self-reflection.

The purpose of this EXEC SESSION on accountability of board committee chairs is to understand the current problems and offer solutions to the question of responsibilities and accountability for the chairs of our standing committees, which will serve as a model for other committee chairs. We are indeed a membership organization, fundamentally dedicated to our grassroots activism and we need to be functioning at our highest level. However, there is no model of successful leadership that does not require accountability for workers or volunteers.

The meeting will consist of roundtable discussions of solutions, with the goal of defining what makes a successful Chair and Committee, how to measure our impact, to provide the supports necessary for success, to maximize our potential. We aim to create a culture of cooperation, civil discourse, team work and carrying out the responsibilities that we were elected and/or volunteered for. We want MORE member participation, more effective use of our time. To get there, working together and trust in our fellow members is a critical first step!


(I sent the following notice to WILPF US Board): WILPF International has a new Treasurer - Kerry McGovern from Australia. She shared with us that she has the maternal DNA of a bookkeeper...she is the fourth generation in her family. Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend much time with her. However, I did contact her last month and informed her of our position vis-à-vis the claim filed with NY Attorney's Office - Charities Division. I explained that I was told by Nancy Ramsden (former International Treasurer) that the United Nations Office and International WILPF may be considering continuing pursuing some sort of litigation, and I wanted to know the status of their claim against JAPA as soon as possible.

A few days ago, she responded notifying me that Linda Belle and she have set up a Skype meeting for this week. I will keep you informed.

I also sent a plea to Tura Campanella Cook (president of JAPA) to honor our withdrawal from the claim by sending us the $100K due to WILPF US. It appears that they are waiting to see what happens with UNO/INTL.   I am committed to healing this rift asap. 


We have been investing some of the funds from Growing WILPF into improving our IT infrastructure. We recently completed a long overdue clean-up of WILPF's database. We will be moving the data to Donor Perfect, our selected new database product, in the near future. Before the data can be transferred, we are customizing Donor Perfect to best meet the needs of WILPF. Within a few months, WILPF will have a greatly improved and enhanced database tool. 

Another area where we are making changes is the communication tool that we use for groups to communicate with one another which has been a long-time source of immense frustration. After experimenting with a few products (causing more frustration, I know!), we have come up with a service that seems to be working better. We have tried it with the Board and, if it continues to offer improved performance, will be moving all of the listservs over to it. 

A personal glimpse of The Hague

I first went to Amsterdam along with WILPF US colleague Jan Corderman. Walking along the narrow brick sidewalks of Amsterdam, dodging the onslaught of bicycles that whizzed by too close for comfort, I thought of that gravel, dust-filled lane I walked down when I was a little girl in Iowa. Meandering down it, I daydreamed of the "outside" world and today I was there. But not as a tourist, rather as a member of a 100 year old group of women struggling to keep our vision and mission vibrant and working around the world. Bringing once again the hopes and voices of PEACE to The Hague, where, I might add, there were fewer bicycles and smoother sidewalks and less chance of meeting the ground unexpectedly.

The title of the Conference Program: Women's Power to Stop War: Uniting a Global Movement proved to be a title with substance and power! Women from all around the world, all of our 33 Sections were represented [3 new Sections: Cameroon, Ghana, and Israel; 2 new groups, Nicaragua and Uganda] and we, WILPF US, can be proud of the role we played in getting them to The Hague. The WILPF US Board approved $25,000.00 to be sent to WILPF International to support the travel of those women who could not otherwise afford to attend the Congress. It was a blessing to meet these women. Thank all of you for giving our delegation and particularly myself a chance to share these formative experiences with each other and our WILPF Sisters.

At the last minute on the Sunday morning before the Conference, I invited all the Section Presidents to the place I was sharing with other WILPF members. About half of presidents showed up and we had a great time — nearly 2 1/2 hours! Our primary purpose was to take this unusual opportunity to meet face-to-face... Palestine, Lebanon, Ghana, Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Nepal, Cameroon, Philippines, and US. We hope to keep the communication going and expanding to all of the 33 to create a community of section presidents! 

I came back with a renewed admiration for our foremothers and the possibility of all of us preserving their heritage of strength and fortitude during very difficult times.

Yours in Solidarity and Service

Mary Hanson Harrison

WILPF US Section