National Conference Re-cap, or, We Need to Do Better, NOW Sisters

I was really excited to head to the National NOW conference a few weeks ago. It was in Orlando, Florida, and I gave myself a few days before and after the conference to relax and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

On Friday morning I attended an awesome workshop on media coverage of sexual violence and came away with some great ideas for how to improve said coverage. It was great to be in a room full of folks who were just as outraged as I was about media coverage of things like sexual assault and child sexual abuse, and to brainstorm ways we could make positive changes.

It was an election year this year, and I volunteered to help the first all women of color officer ticket win the election. I attended a workshop later in the morning on Friday in which both women on the ticket spoke about their experience building coalitions, lobbying legislative bodies, and creating social change. It was at that workshop that my conference experience changed dramatically.

Behind me at the workshop sat two women who were wearing t-shirts supporting the other folks running for election, Toni and Gilda. While one of the women on the panel was talking they made rude, fairly loud comments about her experience and abilities. I was shocked that they would be so blatant with their comments, though others around me didn’t seem to notice. I didn’t say anything at the time (bad on me) but I did mention it to the women on the panel, and pretty much everyone else I ran into after the fact.

I tried to shake off the icky feeling and enjoy the rest of the conference, but other things that happened made me more upset.

I spent Saturday morning at the campaign table, talking to folks and handing out information. It reminded me very much of running my own campaign and it was pretty fun. While another volunteer and I were standing near the hallway that led to the rooms where the workshops were being held, a young woman who worked for NOW came up to me and told me that her and her colleagues had had a horrible time leading a workshop. A few older women had made them feel stupid for not being able to figure out a technology issue, and one of them even made a racial remark that prompted one of the staff (a young woman of color) to leave the room.

Later on that morning, after the candidates for President and Vice President had given their speeches and completed a Q & A session, an older white woman came up to one of the candidates on the all women of color ticket and started to scream at her. She then proceeded to do the same to several campaign volunteers, saying things about playing the race card, being racist, not respecting older feminists, etc. Keep in mind RACIAL JUSTICE IS LITERALLY ONE OF OUR SIX CORE ISSUES.

I had seen NOW members’ unfriendliness toward young feminists at National Conferences in the past, but I had never witnessed such outright hostility and racism. It was upsetting and disappointing, to say the least. It’s also something that needs to be addressed, and I hope the promises that newly elected NOW President Toni Van Pelt made in her acceptance speech to address these problems are not empty ones. We’re watching and we’re waiting, and we will hold NOW leadership’s feet to the fire on these issues. If we are going to be a feminist force to be reckoned with than we need to make sure that everyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, age or any other identity – feels welcome in our organization.

 

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Letter in Response to MN NOW Award

At our State Conference on March 25th we awarded Hillary Rodham Clinton our Charlotte Striebel Long Distance Runner Award. While she was unable to accept the award in person, she did send us a lovely letter in response. Click the link below to read the letter.

20170326 MN NOW greeting

Reflecting on 2015, Looking Ahead to 2016

As we ring in the new year let’s take some time to reflect on the great things we did in 2015 and look ahead to 2016.

In January, MN NOW activists attended the Women’s Economic Security Summit. The Summit was a great opportunity to learn more about the advocacy and public policy work that remains to be done following the passage of the Women’s Economic Security Act in 2014.

In March, ERAMN, including several MN NOW activists, lobbied at the state capitol in support of efforts to finally pass the ERA. By the end of the legislative session a resolution asking Congress to remove the ERA ratification deadline was passed by the Senate. Victory!

We held our annual State Conference at St. Cloud State University in April. Attendees worked on feminism-inspired collages, heard from some fantastic speakers, and bid on some great silent auction items. We recognized a few of our awesome Minnesota NOW activists for their efforts and elected new officers to the board. MN Valley NOW hosted a screening of Paycheck to Paycheck in April and MN NOW had a presence at Planned Parenthood’s annual solidarity rally.

A few of our athletically-inclined members ran in NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota’s “Run for Your Rights” 5K in May.

In June we tabled at the Pride Festival in Loring Park. We handed out some snazzy fans made by a MN NOW member that included pictures and info about some amazing LGBT activists. The Cackle of Rads trivia team, featuring MN NOW members, took home their third straight first place trophy at the Minnesota Women’s Consortium’s Trivia Perusal.

We celebrated Women’s Equality Day in August, with a happy hour at Honey in Minneapolis. Senator Sandy Pappas and Representative Rena Moran talked what inspired them to get involved in the fight for constitutional equality and discussed next steps we can take in Minnesota to make it a reality. We also recruited a few new activists at our Activist Open House.

MN NOW participated in the annual SlutWalk event in October. The speakers were powerful, the performers were great, and the solidarity among the marchers was inspiring. We held the first meeting of our feminist discussion group, Feminist Forum, at the end of October. We’d like to continue this group in 2016 – if you’re interested in hosting a discussion let us know!

In November we participated in Give to the Max Day and raised over $1,200 for the MN NOW Foundation. We also held another Activist Open House and set our priorities for the coming year at our board meeting.

Looking ahead to 2016, we’ve got another great state conference in the works. We’ll continue to host our Activist Open Houses and table at events like the Pride Festival. We’re hopeful that we can accomplish more legislative victories on our core issues this year, including passage of the ERA legislation that ERAMN is supporting, a special session to address racial inequalities in Minnesota, and changes to sexual assault and domestic violence policies.

Moving Our Feminism Forward: NOW’s Revised Bylaws

At the National Conference in June, activists from around the country came together to decide on revisions to NOW’s bylaws. Some highlights include an updated (finally!!!) statement of purpose, a few changes in the process for electing national board members, and use of undelegated voting at the national conference. You can read the full revised bylaws below.

NOW Bylaws

The name of this national membership organization of women and men is “National Organization for Women, Inc.” (NOW).

ARTICLE II.  STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

NOW’s  purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.

ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP

Any person who subscribes to NOW’s purpose shall be eligible to become a member of NOW and upon payment of national dues shall be enrolled as a member, with all rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereof. All members of subunits of NOW must be members of the national organization. No person who subscribes to NOW’s purpose shall be excluded from membership, segregated, or otherwise discriminated against within the organization.

Article IV.  SUBUNITS

Section 1. Chapters

A. Members residing or working in a given state, county, municipality, or a regional or metropolitan area shall be encouraged to form a chapter, or members may join or form virtual chapters that are not tied to a geographic region. A chapter shall consist of no fewer than ten members, formulate bylaws consistent with these bylaws, convene and operate for the stated purpose of NOW, and elect its officers. Chapters shall be chartered by the national organization upon meeting these requirements.

B. The policies and programs of each chapter shall be defined by its members so long as such policies and programs are not contrary to those enacted by the national bylaws, National Conference or National Board.

C. Membership in a chapter and voting privileges in the election of chapter officers shall be open to all NOW members who meet the chapter dues and length-of-membership requirements, if any; provided however that members may be voting members of only one chapter. All persons elected to leadership positions in the chapter must be members of NOW.

D. The local, grassroots chapters are the building blocks of NOW, serving as the focus of feminist action.

Section 2. States

A. Each state and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (hereinafter referred to as a state) which does not now have an existing state organization may apply to convene a state organization with the approval of a majority of the chapters or members of that state. States shall be convened and chartered upon meeting requirements set by the National Board or National Conference. States must continue to meet such requirements to maintain their state status, subject to the removal of their state charters in accordance with the procedures set forth in Article XIII, Section 2. State organizations shall convene chapters within their state, with the exception of virtual chapters, which shall be convened with the authorization of a national officer. If a state organization fails to approve or disapprove a convening request within 60 days, the national organization may convene the chapter.  State organizations may convene and support local networks or task forces within the state which are not independent entities.

B. The policies and programs of each state organization shall be defined by its members and chapters so long as such policies and programs are not contrary to those established by the national bylaws, National Conference or National Board.

C. Membership in state organizations and voting privileges in the election of state officers shall be open to all NOW members who meet the state dues and length-of-membership requirements, if any; provided however that members may be voting members of only one state organization. All persons elected to leadership positions in the state organization must be members of NOW.

D. In states without a state organization, that region’s Regional Director, in consultation with the regional Board members, may appoint a State Coordinator/President to serve until elections are held, not to exceed one year.

Section 3. Electoral Districts

A. There shall be electoral districts, each of which shall elect National Board members (hereinafter referred to as Board members or, collectively, the Board or National Board).

B. Membership in an electoral district and voting privileges in the election of National Board members shall be open to all NOW members who meet the length-of-membership requirements set forth in Article VII, Section 5 hereof; provided however that members may be voting members of only one electoral district. National Board members from each electoral district shall be elected in accordance with Article VII, Section 5 hereof, and such other requirements as may be proposed by the National Board and adopted by the National Conference.

Section 4.  Affirmative Action

Subunits shall have an affirmative action plan aimed at increasing diversity of participation at all levels of NOW.

ARTICLE V.  INTERNATIONAL AFFILIATES

The national organization may establish affiliates or may affiliate with existing organizations in other countries to promote feminism worldwide.

ARTICLE VI.  OFFICERS

The national officers may delegate such duties as may be necessary to allow them to implement the performance of their office, but they may not delegate their responsibility. The officers shall constitute the Executive Committee and be responsible at all times to the full National Board and to the members.

Section 1. Titles and Duties

A. President. There shall be a President who shall be salaried and shall be a voting member of the National Board. The President shall be the principal spokesperson and chief executive and financial officer of the organization, shall call the meetings of the Board, the Executive Committee, and the National Conference and shall preside at these meetings. The President shall also serve as the Chair of the NOW PAC.

B. Vice President. There shall be a Vice President who shall be salaried and shall be a voting member of the National Board. The Vice President shall preside at all meetings in the absence of the President, keep the minutes of the meetings of the Board, the Executive Committee and National Conference, be custodian of the records, and perform such other duties as may be delegated by the President and Board. For corporate purposes, the Vice President shall be designated Secretary/Treasurer. The Vice President shall serve as the Treasurer of the NOW PAC.

C. Upon a three-fifths (3/5) vote of the National Board at least 180 days before a national conference at which officers are elected, the Board may, after taking into account the organization’s projected 4-year budget and other factors it deems relevant, establish one or more additional Vice President positions, which may be salaried and which shall have the responsibilities and duties as determined by the Board.

Section 2. Qualifications and Terms of Office

A. All national officers shall have been members of NOW for at least four years immediately prior to election and shall have served at least one year as a chapter or state officer or National Board member. Each term of office shall be four years and shall begin 30 days following the election at the National Conference.  Each officer shall serve no more than two consecutive terms.

B. In the case of officers elected to fill a vacancy under Article XII, their partial terms shall not be considered in determining the term limitation.

Section 3. Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall be composed of the national officers. Where action is necessary between meetings of the Board, the Executive Committee may act on behalf of the Board, provided that the action is consistent with existing NOW policy. The Executive Committee shall report all of its actions and decisions to the Board. A meeting of the Executive Committee shall be held only after adequate notice to all officers. The Executive Committee may meet by any means, such as a conference telephone call, which will allow the officers to confer as a body.

Section 4. Nominations

Nominations for officers tickets shall be submitted to the Nominating Committee in writing at least 90 days before the election Conference, provided that nothing in this shall be interpreted to require tickets for the election of national Board members in the electoral districts. Each officer ticket submitted to the Committee must contain a nomination for every officer position. Nominations shall not be taken from the floor.

Section 5. Elections

One of the proposed officer tickets shall be elected by a majority vote of the eligible members present whose preferences are counted in the final tally at the National Conference. If there are more than two officer tickets nominated preferential voting shall be used, and balloting shall be conducted according to the parliamentary authority prescribed in these bylaws.

Section 6. Salaries and Fees

A. The Board shall set the salaries of the paid officers for the next term, except that officers may not vote on matters of officers’ salaries.

B. All officers who receive honoraria as a result of their elected position shall remit to the NOW general fund one hundred percent of the said honoraria minus expenses.

ARTICLE VII.  THE NATIONAL BOARD

Section 1. Composition

The National Board shall be composed of the national officers and the Board members elected by members of the electoral districts.

Section 2. Duties and Powers

A. Administrative

The Board shall manage the affairs and control the funds and property of the organization; approve all appointments; and adopt necessary rules and regulations, provided that none of the Board s actions shall conflict with or modify the actions or directives of the national Conference or be inconsistent with the purpose of the organization.

B. Action

The Board shall develop and plan the action agenda and submit it to the National Conference for approval, implement conference resolutions, and facilitate national actions and the exchange of information.

C. National Board members shall be responsible to present the concerns (including actions and programs) of the states and chapters within their regions to the National Board and to report National Board decisions to the states and chapters within their regions. Further duties of National Board members within their regions may be defined by their region’s bylaws and policies.

D. At the beginning of each Board term, each Board member shall declare their personal commitment to give or get contributions and/or NOW memberships, taking into consideration the Board member’s resources, including contacts, geographic location, existing responsibilities and other relevant factors.

Section 3. Meetings

The Board shall meet at least three times each calendar year at the call of the President or at the request of one-fourth of the Board members. At least thirty days’ notice shall be given for regular meetings of the Board. At least seven days’ notice shall be given for special meetings.

Section 4. District Election of Board Members

A.  There shall be six electoral districts which shall be drawn every ten years, following publication of the U.S. Census information, by the National Board with the approval of the National Conference.  The electoral districts shall have roughly equal numbers of NOW members and such other characteristics as the Board and Conference may approve.  The first such districts shall be:

1.    Pacific – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington;

2.    Western – Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah, Texas

3.    Heartland – Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin;

4.    Southern – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee;

5.    Eastern – Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia;

6.    Northern – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont.

B. Each electoral district shall have no fewer than two (2) members elected to the National Board.  Any electoral district with a delegation that includes a person of color shall be entitled to three (3) members elected to the National Board.  No more than one (1) National Board member shall be elected from any one state.

Section 5.  Procedures and Standards for Elections

A. Any NOW member who has been a member in good standing for at least two years immediately prior to the date of election shall be eligible to serve on the National Board. Board members must remain residents of the electoral district from which elected in order to remain on the Board.

B. All National Board members shall be elected at district caucuses held during NOW’s annual national conference in even-numbered years or at a district conference held in March, April or May of even-numbered years.  All members of the electoral district in good standing whose dues are received by the national organization or its appropriate subunits at least ninety days prior to the national, district in-person, or online district conference and who are present may vote.  Minimum procedures shall be:

1.    The National Board members must be elected by a majority of the votes cast.  Preferential or cumulative voting is permissible.  In preferential voting, Board members must be elected by a majority of preferences counted in the final tally.

2.    At least sixty days’ notice in an every-member NOW publication must be given of elections for National Board members.

3.    Electronic voting in accordance with procedures adopted by the national Board and approved by the National Conference is permitted, provided that it must be conducted in a secure, affordable and accessible manner.

4.    The procedure for nominating National Board members in the electoral districts shall be the same as that for nominating officers of the national organization.  The State Coordinators in each electoral district or their designees shall serve as the nominating committee for that district.

5.    Districts must notify the National Action Center no later than January 1of an election year that the election will be held at a district conference.  The State Coordinators and National Board members in each district who are not running for election or re-election shall select the site for a district election conference.

Section 6. Term of Office

A. National Board members elected in the electoral districts shall hold office for a term of two years or until their successors are elected.

B. Board members shall take office at the close of the National Conference in the year in which they are elected.

C. No Board members shall be eligible to serve more than two consecutive terms. In the case of Board members elected to fill a vacancy under Article XII, their partial term shall not be considered in determining the term limitation.

D. Any National Board member who is absent from three consecutive National Board meetings for which reimbursement is provided shall be automatically removed from the National Board without recourse to Article XIII, Section 2, Removals.

Section 7. District Directors

One National Board member from each electoral district may be designated by the district to serve as the District Director of the district.

ARTICLE VIII.  MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS

Section 1. National Conference

A. There shall be an annual meeting of the membership (hereinafter referred to as the National Conference or the Conference) which shall rotate through the regions, with separate rotations for election and non-election conferences, and shall be held for the purpose of transacting the business of the organization.

B. The National Conference shall be the supreme governing body of NOW.

C. The Conference shall be held in the month of June or July, and at such other times as the membership may decide by written petition of ten percent of the membership or a majority vote of the National Board. The Board shall fix the exact date and place of the national Conference and give at least sixty days’ advance notice thereof in an every-member NOW publication. It shall make arrangements for hotel and meeting place accommodations and determine the Conference agenda.

D. In the even-numbered years, the National Conference shall include a special issue or constituency summit in the event that NOW Foundation does not sponsor such a summit.

E. No membership meeting at any level of NOW shall require NOW members in good standing to pay a registration fee or any other fee in order to participate in the business events or activities of said meeting. No distinction of any kind shall be drawn by the Conference or the Committee between those able to pay fees over and above basic dues and those unable to pay such fees.

Section 2. Voting Privileges

A. Only members in good standing whose dues are received by the national organization or its appropriate subunits at least ninety (90) days prior to the Conference and who are duly registered and in attendance shall be eligible to vote at the Conference. Each member in attendance shall have one vote.

B. Use of the unit rule is prohibited. There shall be no proxy voting.

C. A quorum shall be twenty-five percent of those members registered and eligible to vote and shall include one officer and two other National Board members.

Section 3.  Participation in Conference

The National Conference shall be open to all NOW members, who shall be entitled to speak whether or not eligible to vote.

ARTICLE IX.  COMMITTEES

Section 1. Nominating Committee for the Election of Officers

A. Election.  The members of the Nominating Committee shall be elected in their electoral districts. There shall be one member from each district. The committee shall designate the chair from among its members.

B. Duties.  The Nominating Committee shall not endorse an individual officer ticket and each member shall maintain strict neutrality regarding all tickets.  The Nominating Committee shall:

1.    Publicize and distribute in an every-member NOW publication information on the deadlines for submission officer ticket information. These deadlines shall be set by the National Board.

2.    Accept officer ticket nominations from members.

3.    Determine each nominee meets the qualifications as described in these bylaws.

4.    Provide uniform information sheets to be submitted by the officer tickets.

5.    Assume responsibility for the distribution of information on all eligible officer tickets.

6.    Publish and distribute officer ticket information in an every-member NOW publication at least thirty days before the Conference.

Section 2. Standing Committees of the National Board

A. The Board shall organize itself into committees so as to best accomplish its work.  Committees may include but are not limited to:

Membership

Action and Programs

Structure and Process

Fundraising

Finance and Budget

B. The members of the standing committees shall serve for the duration of the term of the administration under which they serve.

C. The standing committees shall report to the Board at regular intervals and to the membership at the annual Conference or through an every-member NOW publication.

D. The President shall designate the chair of each committee subject to the approval of the National Board.

E. The chair of a standing committee shall be any NOW member unless otherwise provided for in these bylaws.

F. The members of the standing committees shall be appointed by the Board.

G. The functions and duties of the standing committees shall be designated by the Board.

Section 3. Advisory Committee

There may be a National Advisory Committee appointed by the Board which shall consist of a chair appointed by the Board and not more than one-hundred NOW members who shall serve two years. The Advisory Committee shall be available to the Board for advice and consultation as requested and for assistance in fundraising. The chair shall be a non-voting member of the Board and shall serve for a term of two years, the completion of the term to be at the close of the National Conference in odd-numbered years.  The Advisory Committee shall assist in the identification and cultivation of potential major donors to NOW.  At the beginning of every Board term, each Advisory Committee mameber will declare their personal fundraising commitment for NOW, taking into consideration the Advisory Committee member’s resources, including contracts, geographic location existing responsibilities and other relevant factors.

Section 4. Special Committees of the National Board

There shall be other committees which do not have the authority of the Board for management of the corporation, but which may advise the Board, officers, and membership-at-large, or may perform such other duties as the Board, National Conference, or President may wish to assign. This will include a permanent task force of young feminists aged 30 or under to be appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the board to advise the Board of Directors and National Conference on matters of agenda, leadership recruitment and issue prioritization regarding young feminists in NOW, and a permanent task force on racial justice to be appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Board to advise the Board and National Conference on matters of agenda, leadership recruitment and issue prioritization regarding feminists of color in NOW.

Section 5. Committees to Implement Conference Resolutions

There shall be committees to implement Conference resolutions. Such committees can be established and their membership and direction be determined by the National Conference, the President, or the Board. Chairs of such committees shall be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Board.

Section 6. Composition

Although a committee or task force may allow participation by non-NOW members in its activities, all positions of responsibility or decision making authority shall be held by current NOW members.

ARTICLE X.  FINANCE

Section 1. Fiscal Year

The fiscal year shall begin January 1 and end December 31.

Section 2.  Dues

A.  Annual dues shall be paid on the anniversary date of the day on which the member joined. The amount of dues shall be set by a two-thirds vote of the Board, which shall establish regular and hardship dues. Any member whose dues are in arrears for one hundred and eighty (180) days following the anniversary date on which the membership was first recorded in the national records shall be dropped from membership rolls one month after the mailing of a warning notice that the membership has become delinquent.

B.  NOW members shall pay annual dues to National NOW, which shall be responsible for forwarding state and chapter portions (rebates) to the appropriate units.  Rebates shall be sent at least monthly.

D. The membership of persons who remit national dues during a National Conference shall take effect upon adjournment of the Conference.

Section 3. National Budget

The Finance and Budget Committee shall prepare a proposed line-item budget for the fiscal year by October 1 of the prior year. The budget, after having been published in a NOW leadership mailing, shall be approved by a majority vote of the members of the Board present and voting at a meeting preceding the commencement of the fiscal year on January 1. After the budget is adopted, an abbreviated version will be printed in an every-member NOW publication. Review and revision of the budget may occur at any regular or special meeting of the Board by a majority vote of those present and voting, with subsequent notification to the membership indicating a summary of the revision and current financial experience to date.

Section 4. Audit

The results of every audit shall be available to the members upon request.

ARTICLE XI.  GRIEVANCES

Grievance procedures shall be determined by the National Board.

ARTICLE XII.  VACANCIES

Section 1. President

In the event of a vacancy in the office of President, the Vice President-Executive shall immediately assume the office and duties of President.

Section 2. Other Officers

In the event of a vacancy in any other national office, the Board shall appoint any member of NOW who meets the criteria for elective office in the national organization. Officers so appointed shall take office within thirty days of the appointment.

Section 3. National Board Members Elected from the Electoral Districts

A. Vacancies in electoral district National Board positions shall be filled by any member of that district who meets the criteria for national office and is elected by a vote of two-thirds of the State Coordinators and the remaining Board member(s) of that district.

B. The existence of a vacancy shall be consistent with the provision of Article VII, Section 4, B.

ARTICLE XIII.  RECALL AND REMOVAL

Section 1. Recall

A. National Board Members Elected in Districts.

A petition signed by ten percent of the membership of the region shall initiate the recall of a National Board member elected from that region. The petition shall designate either a Conference vote or a postal ballot as the method of recall. The National Board has the responsibility to carry out the mandate of the petition. In the case of a postal ballot, the voting procedures shall be in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

B. Officers

1. A petition signed by ten percent of the NOW membership from each region shall be necessary to initiate the recall of a national officer. Recall charges shall be filed with the Vice President-Membership. Time for collecting signatures shall be no more than 120 days from the date of publication of charges in an every-member NOW publication. Petition signatures shall be filed with or mailed to the Vice President-Membership. Mailed petitions shall be postmarked no later than midnight of the 120th day.

2. Grounds for recall must be stated in writing and submitted to the Vice President-Membership. Stated grounds for recall must appear on each individual petition. Petitions shall be limited to no more than thirty signatures per page.

3. A petition containing the required number of signatures, after having been filed with the Vice President-Membership, shall be certified by the VP-Membership within fourteen calendar days. Both the officer subject to recall and the person(s) filing the signatures shall be notified in writing of the status of the recall petition by the Vice President-Membership within three days of the date of certification or failure thereof. The required number of signatures shall be determined by the total national membership at the time of the National Conference prior to the date of the filing of recall charges with the Vice President-Membership. After certification, recall notice must be published in the next every-member NOW publication.

4. The original filing of charges and each petition shall designate a postal ballot as the method of recall so long as the recall vote shall be in accordance with the procedures for election. In case of a postal ballot, voting procedures shall be in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. The National Board has the responsibility to carry out the mandate of the petition.

5. The postal ballot shall be mailed to all delegates elected to attend the prior national Conference. The recall vote shall be approved by an absolute majority of delegates. The time for delegates to return ballots shall be no more than seventeen calendar days.

6. Under no circumstances shall the time for recall extend beyond ninety days after the date the recall signatures have been certified by the Vice President-Membership.

Section 2. Removals

After notice and opportunity for a hearing, the National Board, by a two-thirds vote of its actual membership, may remove any officer, Board member, chapter charter, or membership if the Board determines the actions in question are contrary to the purposes of NOW and injurious to the organization.

ARTICLE XIV.  AMENDMENTS

Section 1. National Conference

These bylaws may be amended by a three-fifths vote at the national Conference, provided that:

A. The amendment is proposed by either a majority vote of the National Board, 500 members, two state organizations, or fifty chapters.

B. The proposed amendment is submitted to the Board at least 120 days in advance of the national Conference for publication in an every-member NOW publication.

C. The existent bylaw plus the proposed amendment is published in an every-member NOW publication at least sixty days prior to the meeting of the National Conference.

Section 2. Postal Ballot

These Bylaws may be amended by a referendum of postal ballots in which a majority of the valid returned ballots show approval of the change, provided that:

A. The amendment has been proposed by either a majority vote of the National Conference, the majority of the Board, 2,000 members, seventeen state organizations, or one hundred-fifty chapters.

B. At least sixty days before the mailing of the ballots, an announcement is made in an every-member NOW publication, including the existent bylaw, the proposed amendment, and pro and con arguments written by representatives of opposing sides.

C. The above announcement is repeated in the ballot mailing.

Section 3. Publication of Amendments

The National Board shall print in an every-member NOW publication announcements of all amendments submitted to it within proper deadlines by proper bodies as defined in Sections 1 and 2 above.

ARTICLE XV.  PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

Except as herein provided, all proceedings of NOW shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

ARTICLE XVI.  DISSOLUTION
Section 1. Method

The corporation may be dissolved in the following manner: A petition for dissolution signed by ten percent of the members of each of a minimum of fifteen chapters spread across at least three electoral districts shall be submitted to the National Board. Upon the certification of the signatures on the petition a postal ballot to dissolve the organization shall be sent to all members and shall require a two-thirds vote of those valid returned ballots to uphold the petition to dissolve.  Costs for this are to be covered by those chapters that are petitioning.

Section 2. Disposition of Assets

Upon the dissolution of the organization, the National Board shall, after paying or making provisions for payment of all liabilities of the corporation, dispose of all the assets in a manner appropriate to that purpose or to such organization or organizations as shall at the time qualify as devoted to the purpose of NOW.

National Conference Re-Cap

I was fortunate to be able to attend NOW’s national conference in New Orleans a few weeks ago, thanks to a scholarship from DC NOW. I arrived at the Hyatt Regency in NOLA on Friday afternoon, just in time for a quick bite before the next structure modernization plenary.

IMG_2647
The view from my hotel room, which inspired me to reflect on everything that happened (and didn’t happen) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina almost 10 years ago.

We spent a good chunk of the weekend learning about, debating, and voting on long overdue proposals to modernize NOW’s structure. It was intense and exhausting but well worth it as we made significant progress in our efforts to make NOW a more smoothly functioning, welcoming, and intersectional organization. Bylaws changes will be published soon, and we’ll write another blog post on the topic once that happens.

While most of the conference was dedicated to structure modernization we also had the opportunity hear from some amazing activists and leaders and attend interesting and informative workshops. The awards plenary on Friday afternoon honored two amazing women, Kathleen Gasparian and Deon Haywood. Gasparian began her career in immigration law working in the International Student Affairs Office of Loyola University. She went on to earn a JD from Loyola in 2002, and was then selected for the Attorney General’s Honors Program and served as a judicial law clerk for the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Gasparian, noting the large number of immigrant children fleeing violence and poverty who had come to New Orleans, founded “PB&J Pro Bono and Juveniles”, an effort to recruit and match pro bono attorneys with immigrant children who have recently crossed the U.S. Southern border and who cannot afford legal services. In the first round of the project, pro bono counsel was provided to over 69 children. Gasparian’s success in bringing multiple groups together to help immigrant children was inspiring and refreshing given recent political debates that have dehumanized immigrant children and families.

Deon Haywood, who received the Mastrobuono Award, is the Executive Director of Women With A Vision, Inc., a New Orleans-based community organization founded in 1991 to improve the lives of marginalized women, their families, and communities by addressing the social conditions that hinder their health and well-being. In 2009, Haywood oversaw the launch of WWAV’s NO Justice Project, a campaign to combat the sentencing of women and trans* people arrested for street-based sex work under Louisiana’s 203-yr-old “crime against nature” felony-level law, which resulted in a federal judicial ruling and the removal of more than 700 women from the sex offender registry. In 2012, WWAV’s office was set on fire and everything was destroyed. Authorities determined that the crime was aggravated arson but a suspect was never identified or apprehended. Despite the loss, WWAV forged ahead and continues to do important work around the issues of sex worker rights, drug policy reform, HIV positive women’s advocacy, and reproductive justice outreach. Haywood is a fearless, kick-ass feminist and we hope to hear more about WWAV and their great work in the future.

On Saturday we heard from a panel of experts on the topic of organizing for the 2016 election. You can see a video of the PAC Plenary on NOW’s Yotube channel.

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PAC Plenary Panelists (and NOW leaders), from left to right: NOW President Terry O’Neill, Tania Tetlow, Eleanor Smeal, Dr. Janet Canterbury, moderator Patricia Ireland, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, Barbara Arnwine, NOW Vice President Bonnie Grabenhofer

Saturday’s keynote plenary provided an opportunity to learn about recent work in the fields of reproductive justice, media representation of women, and public education.

All in all it was a great conference. I met some fabulous young feminists, learned a lot, and got to be a part of the important structure modernization process.

Meet our speakers on intersectional feminism

This year’s Minnesota NOW State Conference features the following theme: Love Starts Here, Love Starts NOW…..FOR ALL.

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This is a kinder, gentler version of the words writer Flavia Dzodan used when she famously declared on the blog Tiger Beatdown: “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bull****!”  She wrote:

…while I am screaming at you, I am also asking, nay, DEMANDING that you scream with me. And I am asking that you become as angry as I have been…. Because without anger and without righteous indignation and without the deep, relentless demand for change, my feminism, YOUR feminism, everyone’s feminism will fail.

We are fortunate to have four activists from diverse backgrounds who are joining our conference for a morning discussion of intersectionality, its importance to the feminist movement, and how it will strengthen our collective goal of a more just, peaceful, and equitable world.

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FARHEEN HAKEEM is a leader, educator, and community organizer who has done extensive anti-oppression work in fighting Islamophobia and building solidarity in many activist communities.  She is currently terming out as National Co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. Professionally, she is Director of Membership and Communication for worker collective.  In addition, Farheen has been instrumental in including Muslim women voices in forums such as electoral politics, feminism, child welfare, leadership development, immigrant rights, and collective liberation.  As a joke, Farheen likes to say, “I wear many hats, but only wear one hijab.” Farheen was born and raised on the north side of Chicago, with her two brothers from immigrant parents. Her parents were small business owners. She graduated from a public high school and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Oberlin College.

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LIZA SCOTT  is an activist at heart, and currently works with the homeless at the Harbor Light Center-Salvation Army in Minneapolis. She has worked on a variety of issues that are important to her including, civic engagement in her American Indian community with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, where she was Chair of Native Vote Alliance of MN (NVAM), advancing American Indian women in their communities and mainstream society through the White House Project, and most recently, worked as a community organizer in the exurbs and rural MN for Minnesotan’s United for All Families–the campaign that helped defeat the marriage amendment this past November.

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ANDREA JENKINS is a poet, writer and multimedia visual and performance artist. She has been a part of the local poetry community for several years, earning awards, fellowships and commissions during that time. She is a Senior Policy Aide to the 8th Ward City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden and serves on the boards of OutFront Minnesota, Forecast Public Art, and SMARTS. She has one beautiful daughter, Nia, and an equally beautiful granddaughter, Aniyah. Andrea co-curates Intermedia Arts’ Queer Voices Reading Series with John Medeiros. In 2010, Andrea was selected to be a Naked Stages Fellow, supported by the Jerome Foundation, to produce a one-woman show loosely based on her manuscript Black Pearl. She was also a 2010 Intermedia Arts VERVE grant recipient for spoken word poetry.

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ROXXANNE O’BRIEN is a community organizer from North Minneapolis. MN NOW connected with Roxxanne through a Facebook page that she created called “Undoing Racism.” Roxxanne tackles the serious problems that plague her community ranging from corporate pollution, police abuse, unjust foreclosures, violence, disparities in education and jobs for people of color and inequities in our justice system.

For more information on the conference, including how to register, visit our website: http://www.mnnow.org/events/2013_conference.htm

Andrea Jenkins’ bio & photo from Intermedia Arts–the rest were provided by the speakers.  

Announcing the Minnesota NOW 2013 State Conference!

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Visit our website and register securely online!  You can still get the early bird rate of $50, which includes morning coffee and lunch.

Don’t forget to make plans to join our pre-conference Feminist Fun Friday, featuring Kato Karaoke and a fundraiser for CADA, an organization providing services and support to those experiencing domestic violence in southern Minnesota.

See you in Mankato in May….when the spring will be here and the snow will be melted…we hope…

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