Calling All Vermont AAUW Branch Members:
Your Vote is Needed!
Summary of a Proposal to Restructure AAUW of Vermont
by Margaret Galgano, President
Change is in the air. When the board of AAUW of Vermont met in Middlebury in June 2013, we discussed the ongoing challenges of recruiting new leadership and filling empty positions on the state board, at the same time that Vermont’s branches have vacant positions in their own officer slates. After considering other options, we focused on restructuring our statewide organization by downsizing its administrative structure and programs. We have developed a proposal, but to move forward, we need the approval of the members of Vermont’s four branches in Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington and Middlebury. I am asking each branch to convene a vote of its members—in person or by mail or email—before November 15, 2013.
Our proposal, in a nutshell, is to replace our current nine-member board with a three-person steering committee (administrator, treasurer, secretary), the minimum positions required by state law. This committee will oversee the routine operations of the streamlined statewide organization and hold an annual meeting, as required by Vermont state law, and other meetings as needed. But the authority for setting policy and for continuing AAUW of Vermont—or disbanding it at some future date—will rest with the members of our branches, not the steering committee. Fortunately, we will have the option to conduct most meetings, elections and other business electronically or at branch meetings.
We will also suspend our statewide programs, such as the Green Mountain AAUW Newsletter, state conferences, and scholarships. But we will maintain the website with current contact information for each branch and any other information our branches may provide. This proposal doesn’t “freeze” us: we will be at liberty to add members to the steering committee and reinstate or initiate new programs as we go along.
The proposal also calls for the suspension of state dues, so if it is accepted, we will quickly return any state dues we have collected for 2013-14 to the branches, and in the future, members will pay only branch and national dues. Since we still have some money in the bank, about $4,000 as of June 1, 2013, we propose to hold on to it as a reserve to pay outstanding bills and cover the costs of maintaining the website.
It is important to note that the restructuring will not affect the operations of our branches, nor the membership of branch members in national AAUW. Branch treasurers will still collect and send in national dues. And a streamlined AAUW of Vermont can still advocate on behalf of AAUW’s policy positions, as well as positions our Vermont branches have approved.
Here are a few other details. The members of the steering committee will serve two-year terms, with the first steering committee rotating off on June 30, 2016. That spring and in even years thereafter, as long as our branches want to continue with this structure instead of changing it or disbanding, we will form a nominating committee and hold elections so the terms of the newly elected steering committee members can start on July 1. Three members of the current state board have volunteered to be candidates for the three positions for the first election in 2014.
We have worked diligently with national AAUW on developing this proposal and revising our bylaws accordingly. If the proposal is approved by the majority of our voting branch members, national AAUW is already on board.
Your branch president or co-presidents will explain how your branch will conduct its vote. This summary covers the primary changes; I urge you to review the full proposal and revised bylaws posted on our website (www.aauwvt.org), ask questions and cast your vote. The votes of all branch members will be tallied for the record, and the current full state board, which includes representatives from each branch, will cast the final and binding vote by November 15.