In 1991 the Network’s founder Sandra Thompson and a small group of colleagues created the Winchester Multicultural Network which has grown over the past 26 years into a respected, go-to community organization. From that small initial board, the Network expanded into a 20-plus board with several chaired committees, a first part-time executive director, and then a full-time director.
Under the leadership of our current Executive Director Aba Taylor, the Network has successfully
- increased its programming,
- moved into closer collaboration with other regional human rights and social justice organizations such as VISIONS, Inc., Essential Partners, and Community Change,
- convened civic gatherings and other innovative initiatives,
- and is currently chairing the statewide network of Human Rights commissions,
- served frequently in a consulting and resource role, and
- become an even more integral member of community and area work on issues of inclusion, diversity, multiculturalism, equity, and justice.
Now our own internal structure increasingly needed attention! Network governance had become confusing, particularly for a now professionally-led non-profit. Not only was the twenty-person Board performing all the usual, traditional fiduciary responsibilities, its members served as a volunteer staff, sustaining and supporting the mission and its work in a very hands-on manner. In researching best practices and with the support of external consultation, we were finally ready to “graduate” from this unusual combination of continuing as an all-volunteer organization (AVO) while being led by an Executive Director.
The New Board
In June 2017, the organization voted to approve the needed by-law changes, creating a new, more traditional non-profit Board of Directors. The Network now has a newly elected Board of seven. Juanita Zerda, president, says the four words that identify the group are “Experience, Innovation, Strategy, and Action. We have veteran and new-to- the-Network colleagues; members guiding a new vision and others focused on developing impactful strategies. All of us are committed to working hard and smart to advance and strengthen the Network’s mission.” Serving as vice-president is JP Robins, as treasurer Robin Smith, and as clerk Sandy Thompson. Also on the Board are Michael Bettencourt, Susan Lewis, and Mayra Rodriguez-Howard. Read biographies.
Re-Constructed Committee Organization
Most now-former “Board” members enthusiastically chose to continue as hands-on volunteers on the Steering Committee, under the supervision and leadership of the Executive Director. Additionally, new community members and their talents are being welcomed to the committee. Further refining and restructuring of Network committees are underway, so stay tuned for updates here.
In 2018, we expect to continue digging deeper, as The Network begins designing its anticipated strategic plan for another effective three-to- five years of promoting awareness, understanding, and action around personal and systemic oppression.
Check-In on Our Progress
- Log-in to our website regularly to see photographs and articles on our events, links to related news articles, and relevant events posted on our community calendar.
- Call the office and volunteer your expertise and your passion for civil rights. With the new steering committee structure, there may be just the place for you!
- Invest in building an inclusive Winchester community and the surrounding towns with your financial support.