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Governor’s Message

SIA & Status of NAR
Saturday May 4, 2019
General Session


Over the course of our Soroptimist history we have had many changes. Sometimes we do not openly accept change, but like so many things in life, change when done right, can lead to new and exciting adventures. Over the past decade we have seen many changes to membership, funding, leadership and how we view our relationship with clubs, regions, federations and being an integral part at the International level.

This past January SIA Board of Directors after reviewing healthy region reports and doing a feasibility study determined the necessity to possibly integrate regions along the eastern seaboard.This past fall, a task force was developed to explore possible options for integrating The NER with our NAR region. There was discussion about the status of all regions on the east coast, ours, the Northeastern, the South Atlantic and Southern regions. The SIA board has recommended that the Northeastern Region and the North Atlantic Region, be combined. SIA put together a task force which includes, Heidi McNamar, past SIA Board member, Iesha Brown, SIA Senior Director of Membership and Leadership Development, NER Governor, Ruby Mercado, NER Governor-elect Beth Peterson, NAR Governor-elect Diane Savidge, and NAR Governor Peggy Gentile-Van Meter.

Beginning last fall, phone conferences and email correspondence began to discuss ways to incorporate our two regions. Membership is a key factor in combining our regions. Although we have been maintained a stable membership, and many clubs have increased membership, the NER, has experienced declining membership and has just ten clubs in their region. We are all aware that there is tremendous encouragement for all regions to not only increase membership, but to try to add new clubs to our regions.

Your NAR Board has had several conversations about this merger. Your board has been kept informed after each phone conversation and sent emails that have transpired. As you can imagine,  there have been many mixed emotions about such a merger. One issue is the concept that our name, The North Atlantic Region would no longer exist, as well as the name Northeastern Region. Several suggestions have been made about what the new name would be.

As Soroptimist, we want what is the best possible outcome for both regions. There is a lot of work to be done in order to combine our two regions and several key decisions that will need to be  made, such as a new name for the combined region, governance structure and new bylaws. The task force is having a face to face meeting in Montreal while we are attending the annual Governor’s Round Table. SIA states that this effort could take up to two years and as the process continues it is business as usual for both our regions.

As far as your NAR board, let me tell you that we have questioned and discussed many avenues. The 100th anniversary of Soroptimist is very near, and we know that our region has played a very instrumental part in its’ development for almost as long as Soroptimist International has existed. Many of our clubs in the North Atlantic Region have passed their 80th anniversaries, some have passed 90.

As Soroptimists we should always strive to do the best for all involved. No Soroptimist club or region should ever feel that their existence is not important. We should always do what we can to help members, clubs, and regions when possible. We do not have a crystal ball to see what our future holds as a a region. What we do have is dedicated members and leaders that want to look at possible changes in a positive manner, to research, to ask questions and offer solutions.

So… what do we do now? What the NAR board needs from you is number #1, trust, #2, patience, and #3 time… time to reflect and consider the possibility that the NAR may grow by a district with 10 new clubs, and may have a new name. Please keep in mind, that we will always be the members we are, we will maintain our general structure, and will always be doing what we can for women and girls.

Between now and tomorrow, I encourage you to talk to your NAR board members. The board meets for a post conference meeting and I will ask board members to recap your outlook based on conversations with you. Once you return to your clubs, I encourage you to discuss this with your members. Clubs not represented here I hope will do the same once the Governor’s memo is sent. Sometime next week, the region secretaries will send a governor’s memo to all club presidents. The email will include this memo as well as the original HQ’s memo that outlines all the issues that SIA has looked at. The email will ask Presidents to collect questions/concerns from their members and forward these to me. I will compile these emails and send a copy to the Board. I will take your comments and questions with me to Montreal and present them at our meeting.

I promise you, that as we receive information and answers to our questions that clubs will be kept informed through their Presidents. The North Atlantic Region Board truly believes in  transparency. Let us remember, that we are all Soroptimists and as Soroptimists we should pull together and hope that decisions made are decisions based on input from you, the members who make Soroptimist what it is.

Governor Peggy


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