Our second annual board retreat was held a week ago and, once again, a big thank-you goes out to Marie Breaux, our intrepid president, and her husband for hosting us in their home and—even more important to New Orleanians—feeding us! Thank you also to Vice-President Nina Calvo for bringing a humongous apple pie, Treasurer Karen Kersting for honey from her bees, Social Media Chair Serena Jones for juice and to new Chapter member Pam Ebel (also a new National Bookwoman editor) for champagne with which we toasted our efforts at the end of the day.
Though goals and plans inevitably change as the Chapter year (September through June) unfolds, usually due to circumstances beyond the control of an all-volunteer organization, we’ve found it necessary to dream big and then focus on reality. Without the dream, we’ll never know what great things we might be capable of. With this thought in mind, we were especially gratified to have several new members, as well as long-time member Melinda Palacio, join the board at the retreat. Any volunteer organization is only as good as its active members; and attendance and involvement at the retreat is pointing us forward, toward a very good year.
The focus of the retreat was programming, including fundraising, which is an essential component of our being able to support the “community of the book”, one of our stated goals. During the retreat, it was suggested we have more publishing industry-driven programming and that a ‘pitch’ event giving writers the opportunity to meet with literary agents would be highly welcome. Similar events have been hosted by other chapters, but unlike in NYC, New Orleans doesn’t have a pool of agents to draw from, so an event like this one will take long-term planning. Please let us know if you can help. Among other suggestions, new members in attendance proposed a project whereby volunteers donate their time and expertise to evaluate and consult on manuscripts via an online submission service. We’re also hoping to have events to learn about the work of our many accomplished writers.
The retreat has become an important step toward fulfilling our mission, but it was also fun to discuss, listen and brainstorm together. Even if you were not able to attend in person, we are always open to ideas. Fundraising continues to be an evolving challenge and we’d love to hear from you regarding it. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help out your Chapter and your fellow members in any way. With the kind of participation that started at the retreat, we are confident we will continue to have fun throughout our year as we support each other in our individual and collective endeavors.
— Teresa Tumminello Brader, Secretary