Modernizing NOW’s Structure (brief overview)

Terry O’Neill: We’re modernizing NOW for the 21st century. Patricia Ireland has spearheaded this.

Patricia Ireland: Terry charged the advisory committee to look at NOW’s structure and make it the most effective organization possible. We went to national board and spent two days brainstorming what helps us get our goals and what doesn’t, and what we can modify to enhance and improve. We came up with ideas and sent them out, we’ll post them on the website.

We need to move forward to examine our structure. In 1996, the conference revisited NOW’s purpose and in 1998 NOW released a Declaration of Sentiments, but there has been no other discussion of structure. It’s been this way since 1977 so it’s about time.

We gave out a survey and made a working group about restructure, and made workshops for this conference to come up with ideas. We don’t want to come to any conclusions, just thinking.

Some of us are bylaws freaks but most hate bylaws, so even if it’s boring you have to be here if you care. Here are working group members.

Elisabeth Crum: I went from Indiana to DC for me, I’m the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of NOW. I’m part of this because it’s time to put fire in the pot of bringing young women in, making NOW my children’s organization. I’m also doing this because I love social media and it’s time for NOW to be tech-friendly. These are my objectives.

Janice Rocco: I’m a California native and I’ve been with NOW for 20 years, this is my fourth term on the national board. We have to talk about what this organization should be. I want to bring in new people and energy and get members engaged and want to be leaders. We have to have a conversation on feminism and where NOW is in terms of feminism and politics today. A structural change is needed, but a whole conversation is more needed so we can make strides for feminism, we need to have lots of conversations about what NOW stands for.

Linda Berg: I’m the former Mid-Atlantic regional director and a bylaws freak. I’m the Chair of Structure and Process Committee, so my job is to make sure the rules are followed. The rules often get in the way, so that has to be fixed. They were written pre-cell and Internet days, they need to be updated.

China Fortson: I’m the Northwest Regional Director, I’m one of the Wild Women of West. If you look at this committee I’m the only diversity, so NOW has to be diversified.

Sonia Ossorio: I’m the NYC NOW president. I want NOW to be as important to women in 21st century as it was in 20th. The War on Women has intensified. This isn’t an easy process or a short one, but we love NOW and we’re passionate about it so we can be a strong 21st century organization.

Ellie Smeal: This is long overdue, but we’re doing it now so it’s okay. We don’t notice the structure when it’s okay, so we’ll do it now and be stronger and defeat the War on Women and get lots of members.

Janet Canterbury: This is an opportunity to examine how we can be more effective, that’s the bottom line. Don’t let structure get in way. Give flexibility to local groups.