Monday, September 3, 2012

Musings on the NOW Conference: Modernizing NOW's Structue (Brief Overview)

This post is part of a series discussing the 2012 National Organization for Women (NOW) Conference: Energize! Organize! Stop the War on Women. You can read my notes on this session here.

The second session that I attended at the NOW conference was titled Modernizing NOW’s Structure (Brief Overview). At the conference, a summit was dedicated to brainstorming ideas about making NOW’s governmental structure more conducive to accomplishing goals. This overview session was intended to give conference attendees a taste of what the summit would be about.

NOW President Terry O’Neill introduced Patricia Ireland, a former NOW President and current Advisor to the NOW National Board, as the person who spearheaded the effort to modernize NOW’s structure. Ireland explained that the purpose of the summit is just to brainstorm what works and what doesn’t, not to come to conclusions.

Ireland then introduced the other members of the working group.

Elisabeth Crum, a National Board Member and Regional Director, wants to get younger women involved in NOW and make the organization more social media-friendly.

Janice Rocco, a National Board Member, discussed her desire to put NOW in the national spotlight.

Linda Berg, a National Board Member, mentioned how often the rules get in the way of progress, and how she wants to fix that.

China Fortson, a Regional Director, expressed her desire to increase the diversity within NOW.

Sonia Ossorio, the NYC NOW President, wants to make NOW’s presence in the 21st century as forceful as it was in the 20th.

Eleanor Smeal, a former NOW President and Advisor to the NOW National Board, wants NOW to be strengthened in order to defeat the War on Women.

Janet Cantebury, Advisor to the NOW National Board, explained how she looks forward to giving local NOW chapters more flexibility.

I appreciate the fact that Crum’s objective is to make NOW an organization that’s friendlier to younger women’s needs. The feminist movement in general is having a hard time transitioning into the Third Wave and giving leadership roles and exposure to younger women, so it’s good to know that NOW is very much aware of the need for young feminists to take the reins. I’m also glad that Fortson mentioned the need for more women of color in NOW, since it is a noticeable dearth.

Another thing I liked about this whole summit is that it shows that NOW leadership isn’t afraid to admit that the organization isn’t perfect and that there’s room for improvement. One often hears of businesses that fail because people at the top didn’t want to hear and do anything about major obstacles, so it’s good to know that NOW’s leaders are aware of the fact that there are problems that need to be resolved.

While I didn’t attend any more sessions of the Modernizing NOW’s Structure summit, this overview was enough to show me that there are existing problems, but some serious stuff is going to be done to fix them. I’m really looking forward to seeing the changes and how they impact NOW’s tireless women’s rights advocacy.

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