President Wilkerson’s Annual Review

By Karen Wilkerson, President of LWVPBC

I am so excited to report on the past year of our League. It has been a tremendous success!

Let’s start with membership. At the close of March 2017, we had 575 members. Yup, 575. That number included more men, more young Leaguers, and more active members. Thanks to our membership chair, Darlene Kostrub and her team, these new joiners have had wonderful orientation sessions and have immediately become involved in our work. Welcome to you all. And thank you to our sustaining members who have attracted these new recruits. Your continuing support and efforts have made the League an attractive organization. We are the place to be.

Nancy Cohen has led the focus on planning and addressing our growing needs. We have preserved the important parts of our heritage and mission while adapting to the new world of technology and mushrooming membership numbers. To save money, we abandoned our storage unit and replaced printing and mailing costs with direct technology delivery to members for our membership directory, newsletter, and notices. This has saved us thousands of dollars and provided faster distribution and ability to make timely updates. In fact, our newsletter (renamed NEWS) now comes to us twice a month instead of just once a month.

NEWS is just part of the revised and expanded communications plan headed up by Caela Farren and her team. April 1 brought our new web site. What a swell job. It is user friendly, attractive to see, full of timely information, and a resource for members who want to learn more about us and get involved in our activities.

We are now focusing on social media so you will continue to see our expansion of quality communications to members and the inquiring public. Hey, we are in the grove….or in newer verbage…we are snapping.

Remodeling the infrastructure of our League was a necessity. It was time to truly evaluate our needs and revamp our delivery system. We asked each committee to prepare a plan outlining their anticipated work for the coming year. It had to include definitive work plans that included methodologies and metrics. It also had to include individual committee budgets (both income and expenses). All of this information was reviewed by the Finance Committee chaired by Sid Breman.  Sid then helped us put together the proposed budget that will be presented to you today. Not only is this a budget that offers members a transparency of how funds are allocated, it is proof to our donors and sponsors that we know how to watch our pennies and that we monitor goals and accomplishments. This new accrual budget will let us project cash flow so that we can consider the best way to preserve League funds.

Now, let me tell you about our Advocacy team that is headed by Debra Chandler. We now have observer corps at all county commission meetings, all county school board meetings, and……seven municipalities. In addition, Debra has been appointed to the sales tax revenue oversight committee of the county. Fifteen members attended the recent Legislative Days in Tallahassee. Our voices will be even more powerful.

Our new Development Director, Joyce Sullivan, has been a powerhouse of energy. She is securing underwriting, assisting committee chairs with grant applications, getting sponsorships, and more. We are so lucky to have her on board.

Our 90,000 November election printed and online Voters Guides were  well received. We have also just published a Directory of Elected Officials. In addition, several committees have developed presentations for our Speakers Bureau, written information handouts, and staged information meetings.

Our attendance at monthly Hot Topic luncheons has grown, and we added Cool Topics to offer Saturday and evening meetings. These Cool Topics have been well received and will be expanded to five or six sessions this coming year.

Our new committee, Civic Education, is off to a rousing start. We sponsored a Government Bee for county high school teams and are working with the School Board staff to upgrade and expand civic education for students and also adults.

Our Education Committee has its hand full. There are bills in the Legislature and budget proposals that will weaken our public school systems in Florida.

These types of giant projects were successful because of the teams of volunteers that our organization has. We are so fortunate to have such talented members who are generous in sharing their knowledge and time. Will the present Board members please stand. Will the committee chairs please stand. Will everyone who has done volunteer work during the past year please stand.

Please give them a hand.  This is how to get thing accomplished. This is how we grow. This is how we build our future.  This is how we are  effective. Our mission is to be a strong grassroots organization. You give us this strength. Thank you.

And thank you for letting me be your president. What an honor.