Welcome to the 2017 BWI General Meeting
Greetings! Thank you for taking the time to join the BWI General Meeting, which takes place from November 15, 2017-November 19, 2017. The General Meeting is an opportunity for volunteers to vote on candidates for the national Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is responsible for governing BWI, developing policies, oversight of funds, representing the needs of our stakeholders, and charting the course for the future of the organization.
Below you will find instructions for casting your vote for the 2017-2018 Board of Directors, as well as other information that we typically share during the annual meeting. Should you have any challenges with navigating this page, locating your voting information, or anything else related to the general meeting, please contact us.
Welcome Message from Kat Chaffin, BWI Board President
Thank you for joining us at the 2017 annual meeting of the voting members, and for dedicating your time as volunteers of our organization. At the heart of Babywearing International is its core of dedicated volunteers who run every aspect of every chapter with care. It is through your hard work, educating your communities on the benefits and practicalities of babywearing, that we’ve been able to exist these past 10 years.
Back in 2007, I don’t know if BWI’s founders could have foreseen the growth of this organization to what it has become today. Our chapter volunteers make a difference in so many lives throughout the country by providing education and support at no cost and without any payment besides the good feeling of having helped someone have an easier time caring for their baby. It is truly a selfless endeavor, and I appreciate each and every one of you and everything you do.
Our organization has seen many changes in 2017, some of which you have seen, and some of which have been behind the scenes. Throughout the year, the board and staff have focused on internal processes aimed at making our organization function more efficiently. We have created and amended policies, procedures, and infrastructure with the goal of fostering a more sustainable organization that can grow and flourish in the future. In addition to our executive director hired in 2016, this year we developed a new staff position. As Chapter Manager, Jillian Droppo has taken the reigns in supporting our chapter support team.
We hope that you’ve seen an increased effort in our communication with you, the chapter volunteers. We’ve sent newsletters monthly and delivered them to each of you individually in an effort to ensure updates reach every volunteer as soon as possible. We’ve conducted surveys, launched a helpdesk system, and engaged in conference phone calls to gain greater insight into your concerns. We’ve released a new chapter and volunteer handbook, redesigned and revised our website, and refined the mediation program to better suit chapter needs. This year alone, we were able to support over a dozen chapters through transitions.
Necessary groundwork has been laid within the chapter support team to launch new and exciting programs in late 2017 and early 2018. Programs related to reopening for new chapter affiliation, providing chapter support toolkits for success, implementing a new diversity and inclusivity initiative, refining the chapter benefits program, and other new developments that support chapter leadership.
The coming year will bring new possibilities. We look forward to introducing a new advanced volunteer designation, new membership structures and opportunities, and changes in your options as chapter affiliates of a national organization.
In addition to maintaining and supporting the chapter program, our board and staff have reached outside BWI this year to further promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice. We have formed a relationship with an organization called Baby Carriers Provided, which is an initiative for providing access to and education on baby carriers in public health organizations, as part of a new initiative to increase our education and outreach beyond the scope of local meetings. We’ve also formed an external relations team tasked with fostering new and deeper relationships with manufacturers in the baby carrier industry.
Our board of directors has worked well together this past year, and each member has contributed to the whole in a meaningful way. Our new board members in 2017 have truly stepped up and gotten their minds into the inner workings of our organization, providing great new insight to us all. This year, one of our most valued and long-standing board members, Kathy Low, has chosen not to run for re-election. If you know Kathy, you know she’s one of the most dedicated and hard-working volunteers BWI has, you’ve seen how much she cares about babywearing as a whole, and about BWI as an organization. She and her many contributions will be sincerely missed, and our board wishes her and her family the very best in what is to come.
Finally, I’d like to leave you all with my admiration and respect for all you do. I know it’s not been an easy road, and the fact that you’re here at this meeting and reading my words gives me hope. The trust you place in this board is not taken for granted, and we appreciate your patience and candor in this time of transition for BWI.
President, Board of Directors
Candidate Information and Voting Instructions
The BWI national board of directors is comprised of a minimum of 9 individuals and a maximum of 11 individuals. Nine seats are currently filled, and once current seat is up for reelection. There are currently three seats available and three candidates. Click here to view information about each candidate.
Election Buddy System
In the past, many volunteers expressed frustration with the voting system used in TBW. To address this, we are using a new voting system called Election Buddy. All volunteers who are current on dues will be sent an email containing an individualized voting link/access key. Your link can only be used by you and cannot be shared. If you did not receive an email, check your spam folder, verify that you are current on your dues, then contact the Help Desk to receive a voting link/key.
When you are ready to vote, you may choose all three candidates or only the candidates of your choice. You can also abstain from voting.
Annual Meeting Discussion
Annual meeting discussion takes place in TBW. Discussion participation is not required. This is the last year we will be using TBW for the annual meeting, as we are pursuing alternate options for discussion platforms and other communications. To post questions and comments about topics related to the annual meeting, click here. You will need to login to TBW.
News and Updates
In 2017, the Board of Directors approve the first Strategic Plan for BWI. The strategic plan describes how we will prioritize services, activities, and other goals over the next two years. Support of chapters and chapter leadership is the top priority in the strategic plan, resulting in several new initiatives that will help chapters better navigate leadership changes, chapter sustainability, membership development, volunteer recruitment, diversity and inclusion, and more. Download the strategic plan.
Draft 2018 Financial Outlook
The 2018 budget will be discussed during the November board meeting and adopted at the December board meeting. A 2018 Financial Outlook is available for volunteers to view and the final budget will be included in the December newsletter. The 2018 budget includes income and expenses related to the International Babywearing Conference as well as income forecasts related to reopening for new chapter affiliation in January 2018, an expanded sponsorship program, and the launch of an exciting new national membership program. Expenses include chapter benefits such as insurance and MyTurn and administrative overhead.
Communicating and Engaging with BWI Volunteers
After listening to chapter leadership during the October listening sessions, we have launched a new project that is focused on providing spaces for volunteers to engage with BWI and for chapter leadership to seek support. We are currently exploring which features can be integrated into this system, such as individual volunteer profiles, a skills badging program, the ability to “friend” and share information with other volunteers, and breakout spaces for chapter leaders, library coordinators, etc. We are also exploring the potential of moving dues renewal away from TBW and instead using the BWI website for these transactions. After we finish the review process, this new platform will launch in early 2018. If you would like to join the project committee, please email email@example.com.