Letter from incoming President Lisa Vaas

30 Oct 2016 7:34 PM | Lisa Vaas (Administrator)

Hello, hiking kayaking biking walking jumping diving swimming women!! It's August while I'm writing this, so I hope your summer's going great? If we don't get this to you until fall, then switch that to past tense, please! As in, I hope you HAD wonderful adventures in the outdoors, met some new friends and/or hung out with old friends, and enjoyed whatever part of the outdoors you found yourself in, all without too much sunburn, chafing, scraped knees or exotic tropical disease acquisition.

So here I am, writing to you in my new role as president of our much-beloved organization.

"Say what, now?" say those of you who missed the 2016 Gathering. (Where were you?! We missed you!)

OK, to bring you all up to speed, here's what went down at the Sargent Center in New Hampshire over Memorial Day weekend:

1. The board met without a president. We knew that was coming, as our former president, leader extraordinaire Kim Otis, had already let us know she was stepping down. (Please do read her farewell letter in my previous post).

2. I offered to step into the gaping hole left in Kim's wake.

3. The board said "Yes, please!" and thus I became your new Fearless Leader.

4. Besides Kim, the board of Women Outdoors said good-bye to two other extraordinarily hard-working, smart, highly valued members who served vital roles in the organization for years and years: Treasurer Anna Desousa and Regional Contact Coordinator Kathleen Long.

5. Cherished newsletter editor Franny Osman and layout editor Stein Feick, who've put their bottomless talent to work for a magnificent number of years to bring us this vital publication, resigned. As it now stands, we don't have anybody taking their place, though April Judd has been working on getting out one last print newsletter. Want to take over as magazine editor of the print edition? Drop me a line, at president@womenoutdoors.org, In the meantime, I'm working with a newish WO member—the uber talented Gina Kamentsky—to put together an e-newsletter that will be keeping you up to date on everything the board is working on. Some of you have had the pleasure of going on trips with Gina already. Let me tell you, she's as talented at graphic design as she is at paddling in rough waters and portaging over crazy distances!

6. We had yet another fabulous, fun Gathering, brought to us through the hard work of the staff at Sargent Center, the women who lead our workshops and activities, and our incredible Gathering coordinators, Elissa Mattson and Alice Sherard, and of course our registrant, Anna Desousa. We hiked, we listened to a marvelous keynote from a woman who's taken her two daughters hiking all over the world, of course we dragged those two daughters into a skit at the talent show even though mom had figured they'd all leave after her talk, we practiced kayak rescues in Half Moon Pond, under Bonna Weiler's wonderful instruction and in her great boats. And holey moley, the water was bathtub warm! Global warming is a catastrophe, I know, but wow. It was easy to jump in that water this year!

Before we get to anything else, please join me as we all bow our heads and send out waves of gratitude to everybody I just mentioned, as well as all the other treasured board members, past and present, to all of you who came to the Gathering and made it so much fun, and to those of you who we still love and who we hope can come to the Gathering in 2017 and beyond.

So, anyway. I got a call from Western Mass. Regional Contact Nira Harper Hinard the other day, and she asked me, "So what's the story, are you the president now?"

I hemmed and hawed and finally said YES! I had appended the word "Acting" to "President" when I offered to take on the role at the Gathering, since my current board term is up in 2017 and I'm not sure how long we can keep chugging along without a Treasurer and a Regional Contact Coordinator: two roles required by our bylaws.

But for now, we're functioning. I'm the president. We're having a good time. We just had our fall retreat at Stump Sprouts in Western Mass. We have new blood on the board. Thankfully, Anna's agreed to serve as treasurer as we hunt for her replacement (somebody with QuickBook and accounting skills—know anybody?! If so, get in touch: Treasurer@womenoutdoors.org!).

The result of the board retreat and the hard work of the Gathering Committee that was formed at the Gathering: We have exciting news to share about the Gathering. That deserves its own post. Stay tuned!


With deep affection,

Lisa Vaas

Eastern Mass.  


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