Spring 2012: Letter from the president – Spring board retreat

Better Kat picBy Katherine Ann Rowlands

You know it was a good weekend when you’ve had to wash 12 champagne flutes and 64 wine glasses. But even better than the party was the reason for such celebrating.

The JAWS Board of Directors met for its Spring Board Retreat at the end of April, tackling an impressive agenda over two days of meetings in Berkeley, Calif.

Top of the list was an update to our five-year strategic plan. Previous boards had done the hard work of creating a baseline document for 2007-2012 to show potential funders that we not only have a strong track record of serving women in journalism over the last quarter century but also a viable and sustainable roadmap for the future. Our updates will carry our leadership group through 2017, addressing specific areas including programs and services, membership, external relations, communications, fundraising and development, finance, human resources and governance. We reached consensus on most areas and will be able to share the final document with members on our web site in June.

Our conversation was aided by a comprehensive membership survey that we conducted in March and April, providing strong endorsement for what JAWS is doing and some direction about what we ought to do more of.

Highlights include:

  • building a year-round slate of programs to meet the call for regional events serving many of our members who may not be able to attend CAMP;
  • setting a target membership base of 750 by 2017, reflecting an overwhelming desire to expand our reach and offer the JAWS experience to more women in journalism;
  • shifting the annual budget to reflect more earned income and less reliance on donations so that we have a more stable financial base, in part through slightly higher membership dues, a move away from subsidizing CAMP registration fees, the offering of paid training events during the year, and selling more web ads and CAMP sponsorships;
  • a push for more fundraising, supported by professional printed and online materials to inform potential donors and a variety of ways to give, including Donate for Good online, our annual campaign, an online auction, more personal outreach and a longer-term effort built around JAWS @ 30 in 2015.
  • more frequent communication with our membership through a monthly, online bulletin sent by email and posted on our website.

Thanks to all our members who participated in the survey. We value your feedback. And thanks to all of our members who sent in renewals before the March 31 deadline. We are proud to have you among us.

Katherine Ann Rowlands

JAWS President