Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE

New York State Membership Report

Membership Team: LWVNYS board members Betty Ann King (North Country), Suzanne Stassevitch (NYC), Dare Thompson (Mid-Hudson) plus off-board members Susan Schwarz (Rivertowns and Westchester Co. ILO), Lisa Scott (Smithtown and Suffolk Co. ILO), Kathy Stein (St. Lawrence Co.), and Carole Torok Huxtable (Utica-Rome).

Tough political times at least have translated into membership growth and the state as a whole increased its membership, a wonderful new trend which happened in spite of the disbandment of the Harrison and Somers local Leagues. We welcome a new and very energetic Members-at-Large (MAL) unit in Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties and also note that the Saugerties League has just merged with the Mid-Hudson Region League, increasing opportunities for members in both communities.

We extend congratulations to the many local Leagues whose membership numbers grew or held firm: Albany, Brookhaven, Broome/Tioga, Buffalo/Niagara, Cazenovia, Chautauqua, Cooperstown, Geneva, Huntington, Mid-Hudson, New York State (MALs), New York City, North East Westchester, Oneonta, Port Washington, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rivertowns, Rochester, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schuyler, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Syracuse, Utica/Rome, White Plains.

Our mission is to put ALL local Leagues on the “growth list.” Efforts include:

Regional Meetings, held in years without a state convention, took place in NYC on March 17 in Schenectady, April 7 in Cortland, and April 14 in Rochester. (A Westchester meeting had to be canceled because it conflicted with March for Our Lives and couldn’t be rescheduled.) Laura Bierman, Jennifer Wilson and I attended all three. Judie Gorenstein attended the Cortland one.

Local League turn-out was good and conversations were lively and energizing at all of them. Topics this year included League management, candidate events and other voter service activities, engaging new and younger people as members and activists, civics, and “You’re richer than you think” – how Leagues can maximize all its assets, not just money. A thread running through all discussions was the challenge of remaining non-partisan in a time when voters are increasingly polarized. It’s not easy to be both the trusted “adult in the room” and a relevant, engaged activist, and we constantly need to be creative and tough as we collectively monitor and discuss our Leagues’ behavior.

At all three meetings we introduced the LWVUS Transformation Roadmap, which outlines a new way of operating for the whole LWV and includes the new pithy mission statement – “Empowering Voters, Defending Democracy.” For those going to the national convention in Chicago at the end of June, the Roadmap is must reading. Ultimately the LWVUS transformation will transform state and local Leagues, as well so all League leaders should at least read the executive summary.

While nothing beats face-to-face meetings, Grassroots Phone Calls also give local Leagues an opportunity to interact with one another and with state League leaders about important League and public policy issues. These have been about engaging youth, voter service, advocacy issues and more. Both Betty Ann and Judie have also set up On-Going Communication Systems via Facebook (re engaging youth) and Google groups (re voter service) which all interested members are welcome to join.

Meetings, phone calls, and online groups all supplement on-going e-mail and online communication from the state League via

  • State Board Updates (SBUs)
  • the state Voter
  • the constantly updated website (www.lwvny.org) where basic League documents are found (e.g. Impact on Issues, In League), latest action at the Capitol or voter service information is highlighted, training handouts are posted, SBUs, Voters and local League newsletters are archived, and so much MORE can be found.

And the LWVUS management section has just been newly revised too. Go to:

https://www.lwv.org/League-management.

Last but hardly least, local Leagues have learned that having a Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) COACH helps them:

  • keep on track with the plans they’ve made
  • remember to use “best practices”
  • incorporate new League-building tips sent on monthly by LWVUS.

Current coaches are Lisa Scott, Kathy Stein, Dare Thompson, and other leaders as appropriate. They consult regularly with our national coach Melissa Currence of Cincinnati, OH who is a past member of the LWVUS Young People’s Task Force and a current nominee to the LWVUS board. If your League would like a coach or if you would like to BE a coach, contact Lisa Scott, state MLD coordinator, at lisawscott@gmail.com.

The Membership Team members and all LWVNYS staff and board members welcome your questions and comments any time. It is the grassroots work you all do that makes the League a truly unique and powerful civic organization, and we are here to help you stay strong. Use us!

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