I haven’t posted blogs for the past few months, so I thought I’d share a little bit about what I have been doing. Here’s a blog I posted on the Women’s Center for Leadership site earlier this summer.
Have you seen that TV show “Love It or List It?” Couples collaborate with two experts: a designer who attempts to renovate their current home, addressing their issues so they will love it, and a realtor who tries to find a new home with the things they need. I always want the home owners to make the modifications and improvements they need to stay. I like the idea of building on the past and improving a home full of memories. I enjoy the creative process of envisioning how that home can adapt with the family. I am always a little disappointed when they throw in the towel and move, which is sort of ironic because my husband is a realtor. For me, there is something about the emotional connection to the home and optimism for the future.
When I took the role of President of the Board of Directors for Women’s Center for Leadership in January, I took some time to take stock in the organization, our mission, and the broader non-profit environment in Portland. During that time, non-profit WEO (Women Entrepreneurs of Oregon) announced they were closing their doors. The reason was outlines on their web site:
“As we wrapped up 2013 and assessed the future these areas became brutally clear. WEO has:
- Declining membership.
- High turnover and low retention year after year.
- Fixed costs increase to run organization over the last 3 years
- Limited volunteer pool who are tech savvy.
- Overly saturated market for women’s groups.”
I am certain other women’s non-profits in PDX have been seeing some of these same indicators for a while. This was a wakeup call to the me and the rest of the WCL Board. It forced us to review our current operating model. We thought a lot about the future of WCL and discussed our concerns about the point of the oversaturated market for women’s groups. The last thing we want to do is to compete with other women’s groups! We want to support women and help develop the competence and confidence of the next generation of female leaders in Portland (and beyond). We envision a world that embraces the merits of diverse leadership teams. And to achieve this, we realized we have to renovate the organization.
We set a goal for 2015 to undergo renovation to make sure the WCL vision and programs serves more women in our community. To do this, we need to understand our audiences (especially younger women) at a much deeper level, and parlay what we learn into the monthly events offered by WCL today and future offerings.
As an all-volunteer working Board of Directors, we cannot execute this reinvention alone. We are similar to the family that knows they need to change their living situation. With the help of a creative team and experienced craftsmen, we can make positive changes.
In 2015, WCL will be revamping its programs, but not on our own. We will be tapping into our creative and experienced community – our members. We want your help co-creating a Women’s Center for Leadership that will be relevant and vital. We want an organization that spans generations, allows for mentoring and connects women to information and resources they need to advance into leadership roles, start a business or take on new career challenges. We also want to reach out to local companies and centers of excellence to form partnerships, and to invite individuals – men and women – to join us as speakers and advisors. But, we want to know what you want. You may be invited to attend focus groups or receive surveys via email. Please take the time to provide input on what you need (or may need in the future) and how you want to get involved. Feel free to make a suggestion or start a discussion in the WCL LinkedIn Group. We welcome your feedback and input.
This organization has served me in my career by providing the connection and support I needed over the years. It’s like a home with great memories. I want to honor that past and build on the dedicated work of so many women in Portland since 1999. I am an optimist. I believe we can renovate this organization and build community at the same time.
We want you to “Love It,” so please get involved.
Together, we can renovate this organization to serve our local community for years to come.