EXPLORATION: the action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it.
Each year the Presidents of AAUW Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, who make up the Lehigh Valley Inter-Branch Presidents Council (IBPC), meet to discuss common goals and issues. One perennial concern is a lack of volunteers willing to assume leadership roles in the branches. In January, 2017, the IBPC decided to commission an exploratory committee, made up of a few members from each branch, to discuss the pros and cons of merging. The merger committee met several times throughout the year to brainstorm over ways to (1) provide a sample of mission-based programming for all three Lehigh Valley branches; (2) create a forum for soliciting feedback from the membership of the three branches; and (3) suggest the next step forward. Since a recurring concern of members involves the financial ramifications of a merger, the Bethlehem Board of Directors presented several specific questions to National AAUW. It appears that National does not have a set procedure for the merging of branches, leaving unclear how current assets of the branches would be handled.
Last month the IBPC decided to recommend that merger discussions be suspended, allowing time for National AAUW to develop more specific merger guidelines. The Bethlehem Board of Directors has approved the IBPC’s recommendation that the time is not right to move forward with merger discussions. The three branches will, however, continue to collaborate where possible to promote our shared mission across the Lehigh Valley.
My special thanks go to the members of the merger exploratory committee, Mary Dawson and Linda Robertson, Bethlehem; Rosemary Baker, Fran Kennedy, and Nancy Butow, Easton; and Karen Pfeifer and Judy Trach, Allentown, for their collaboration to produce an exciting year of AAUW programming and their willingness to “think outside the box.”
Don’t miss the program on March 3 from 10:30am to Noon at Foy Hall in Bethlehem. Grace Spruiell Hochella will take us on an historical journey through the African American experience with slave narratives and music. See you there!
Cathy Kotanchik President