In looking at what DFW has achieved towards our 2020 Vision, the pieces that stand out the most over this year are our partnership with the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Program, welcoming the voices of our members into more areas of decision making than ever before through committees and volunteering, and continuing to present life-changing and inspiring projects and issue education for our members. I’m excited to share a more in-depth look at our achievements.
Voices of our Members
Two years ago, an anonymous donor provided the funds for a weekend retreat for our volunteer Regional Leaders. The retreat was held in Chicago and it was the first time ever that our Regional Leaders met face-to-face! This gathering was a resounding success for our volunteers and for the operations of DFW, and it became clear that this needed to be an annual event that we budget for every year.
Our 2016 Regional Leader retreat was held in Atlanta at the end of September. This retreat was particularly important because over the past year, the group of Regional Leaders has transitioned to the Regional Leader Committee. The transition from a “group of leaders” to a “committee” is important because now major DFW decisions are being made by extraordinary women who are members, DFW volunteers, and who represent the members from their regions with empowered and bold voices. The RL Committee has created sub-committees to address key issues, making recommendations about technology that will affect users of our website, how we recognize and appreciate our chapters and volunteers, how we will grow the number of chapters, how we structure our grassroots support of chapters, and setting the standards for how we serve our members. I’m so excited about this because as we grow, we are growing our decision making into all parts of the organization!
Here is a video I shot during the retreat last month (and it makes me tear up).
Featured in the video are : Peggy Smith, Mid-Atlantic Regional Leader; Terri Abraham, Southeast Regional Leader; Barbara Harris, Heartland Regional Leader; Patty Karabatsos, West Regional Leader; Helen Borland, Southeast Regional Leader, and Karen McCune, Northwest Regional Leader.
For the first time, we have established a board committee to oversee the results of the membership activities and to ensure that our mission and vision are central to all we do. The Member Education and Engagement Oversight Committee (MEEOC) is just beginning to operate under board member Sandy Ward. This committee will have reports and/or representation from the Advocacy, Regional Leaders, Summit, and Diversity Committees.
Additionally, we have our Volunteer page up on our website, and we have been recruiting volunteers for all kinds of opportunities for members to engage with DFW at a deeper level. Please keep an eye on this page.
In 2015, we identified diversity and inclusivity as an organizational strength we are lacking. We are known for creating greater understanding across oceans through our grants and partnerships. However, we recognize that we need both the presence of diverse voices AND to be reflective about how we do and don’t honor all identities, backgrounds, and experiences in the organizational culture of DFW.
Co-Chairs Denise Woods and Karine Sar are on track to hold their first committee meeting before the end of the year. We look forward to the journey ahead in diversity and inclusion and updates directly from this committee.
Our Grassroots Advocacy Program is part of our work to engage members in creating change in the way the world works for women and girls. Our goal is to give members the education and tools to speak out for policy change which effects how the U.S. funds and approaches international development.
Co-Chairs Betsy Dunklin and Diane Smock are also on track to hold the first full Advocacy Committee meeting before the end of 2016. In 2017, we will be creating processes for how issues are chosen.
The Summit will be in the spring of 2018 and we will be posting details as they become available.
Soon we will be releasing a request for proposals (RFP) for companies to apply to be the travel provider for DFW’s Travel Program. From this RFP, we plan to choose a travel provider and will re-launch our travel program! Stay tuned.
Grants and Partnerships Program
I hope you have had the opportunity to visit our Partnership page to learn about the projects we have funded through the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn program. We are thrilled that we are funding projects at “the last mile” in areas that are new to DFW – Mongolia, Micronesia, Kyrgyz Republic and more. In the near future we will be announcing Google Hangouts in which we are interviewing Peace Corps volunteers working on projects in Mongolia.
As we look to the future and growing the funding for our Grants and Partnerships, we know that we will have new opportunities to make an even bigger impact for women and girls in the world. To this end, the Grants and Partnerships Oversight Committee is embarking on a year-long investigation, with experts and readings, to bring ideas forward. We continue to be committed to maintaining the intimate chapter environment that is centered on the monthly featured grantee, but we also look forward to how we can make increased and sustained change to the way the world works for women.
Growth and Outreach
You may recall that our 2020 Vision includes expanding our membership from 8,000 members to 20,000 members. Again, with our commitment to keep small and intimate chapters, our growth will be achieved by increasing the number of chapters. With the Regional Leaders, we will be launching our first ever growth plan in 2017! There will be a role for all to play and we will look forward to rolling this out in 2017.
As you can see, the 2020 Vision is guiding our activities and we are making great strides towards these goals. Your support through your chapters and in the 13th Month Annual Appeal is critical to our grantees, to our education program, and in the community-building in our chapters. As always, thank you for your generous support – it is a joy to be on this journey with you!