In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Women's Media Group in 1999, past presidents of the group were asked to put down their memories of the events of their term of office. These reminiscences appear at the end of this history of the group. It is intended that each retiring president over our next 25 and more years will add on her memories to remind us, as these pieces here do so well, how we got where we are today.
In the early 1970s, several women, friends and publishing colleagues, began meeting for lunch every now and then to talk about their jobs, their lives, their plans and hopes for the future. By the autumn of 1974, the group of five -- Judith Daniels, Elizabeth Crow, Joni Evans, Eden Lipson and Carol Rinzler - decided the time had come to form a club.
In the beginning the club grew exponentially as each of the five founders invited colleagues to join in on discussions of forming a club of like-minded women in the communications industry. Within a few months there were fifty members in the group and work would soon begin on choosing a name, writing bylaws and electing officers.
From the start the lunches, first at the Four Seasons, then here and there until settling at "21," have been ideal settings for members to pick up industry news and gossip and do business in an informal manner. As Anna Quindlen, writing in The New York Times, put it: "If nobody makes deal qua deals, they do find out whom to call if they want to place a book, sell rights, generate a feature story or find an agent."
Members also have the chance to listen to outstanding women who share their wisdom, experience and concerns with us - to name a few of our luncheon speakers over the years, Molly Ivins, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Beverly Sills, Susan Isaacs, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Wendy Wasserstein, Lani Guinier, Gloria Steinem, Christie Hefner, Ruth Reichl, Faith Popcorn.
WMG has actively worked from the earliest days on such issues of concern to women as support of the Equal Rights Amendment and public funding for abortion. We have reached out to fund intern programs for deserving young college women and provide instruction on agenting, editing, and television production for New York City high school students interested in careers in communications. And not the least, WMG has minded its own, putting into place support systems for loans and health insurance for members and after-hours classes on investment expertise and computer know-how.
Three salary surveys have given members the opportunity to compare their own financial status with that of other members. Comparing these salaries to those of Women in Advertising or Women in Communications showed that WMG members are earning substantially more than these peer groups.
Remembering the past during the compilation of the pieces that follow was for this member a particular pleasure as people and places and events of the last quarter century paraded by. Those members who also go back to WMG's early years will share that frisson of remembrance; newer members will find much to marvel at in all that we have done. Good work to be sure and what a lot of fun we've had - at the anniversary parties at the Cos Club and Sotheby's, the weekends in the Hamptons and, always, gabbing about it all at lunch. —Carolyn Anthony
In the beginning...there were dreams. If one then-member's vision had prevailed, today we would have our own Women's Media Group Building, with gym, sauna and dining room.
All of us on the first board — Anne Mollegen Smith, Sally Arteseros, Lisa Hammel, Joni Evans, Virginia Barber, Barbara Blakemore, Suzanne Levine and Betsy Osha — realized that we must grow from the "let's just invite a friend" stage to formal membership. To do so we needed a plan, and I have memories of testy meetings of the Bylaws Committee. Two clauses that exist today came about after especially trying sessions.
Although we wanted to set an admissions policy, we were uncomfortable with exclusionary language. Words like Elitism! Snobbery! Discrimination! Blackballing! flew around the room. After setting out pretty mild and straightforward criteria for membership: "She must work in a publishing company," one committee member raised the question, "What if Margaret Mead wanted to join? Wouldn't we have to turn her down?" This horrifying idea gave rise to what we called the Margaret Mead Clause, with which we promptly admitted two lawyers, Harriet Pilpel and Nancy Wechsler, and photographer Jill Krementz. Margaret Mead never joined.
In putting together the bylaws, the committee referred for guidance to the rules of a number of existing clubs and organizations, all of which outlined processes for jettisoning members who might pose a danger to the rest of the membership and the good name of the group. What did we know? So we followed suit, thinking that perhaps some day we just might want to dismiss a badly behaved member. We called it the "Swinging from the Chandelier Clause" and, of course, have yet to invoke it.
Fortunately our generous natures, rather than any real foresight, had us put in a clause allowing for career changes, so there is no expulsion if a member changes her profession or place of work.
As president that first year, I remember the serio-comic lunchtime discussions over what to call ourselves. Carol Rinzler always joked about The Friends of Scarlett O'Hara. Cynics came up with The Friends of Margo Channing. We opted for dignity in the event of a long run when we chose our present name.
I can still recall the great excitement of that first year, the newness of we weren't sure what. It turned out to be a seismic shift in the role of women.
It was nineteen seventy-something when Sally Arteseros invited me to a lunch with about 18 or 20 other professional women in creative fields. I was the fiction editor of Redbook at the time, and we published 38,000-word condensations of 12 novels a year, and around 50 short stories annually, about a dozen of those from "unknown" authors we found in the "slush" pile. Along with women writers we felt Redbook had a right to discover and publish early—writers like Mary Gordon, Susan Allen Toth, Jane Smiley, Jane Ciabattari, Anita Shreve—there were male writers sending their fiction to us because no-one else was listening—Vietnam war chroniclers like Tim O'Brien and Robert Olen Butler, for instance, and gay writers like Michael Cunningham and David Leavitt. So agents and book editors watched Redbook's fiction pages for new talent. Redbook also competed for the pick of the booklists with other women's magazines like Family Circle(where the brilliant book shark Myrna Blyth lurked ready to excerpt the filet from the next bestseller right out from under our nose) or like McCall's (where the beloved and respected Barbara Blakemore and Lisel Eisenheimer presided over books and fiction) or with Reader's Digest (who could make our $7,500 for condensation rights look like chicken feed). So the idea of a monthly lunch for what Judy Daniels called "high level shop talk" was wonderful.
But it was more than book news and agent referrals. It was the mid-level power talk of ambitious, capable women who had good jobs and were close enough to the best jobs to smell them, taste them, maybe get them.
What a peer group we were, learning to hire our younger selves as secretaries and learning not to apologize to them for wanting our letters typed. Learning to negotiate the salaries we deserved. Learning from each other. One WMG salary committee included Betsy Wade (copy chief of the foreign desk of The New York Times at the time), Kathleen Fury (articles editor of the Ladies' Home Journal), Suzanne McGanney (Dell Publishing) and Paula Bernstein (star reporter for the Daily News). We had such a good time that for many years thereafter we had annual salary committee reunions just to hang out. I remember Paula's theory that women in business should wear suits because the obvious presence of breasts made male colleagues and bosses uncomfortable in conference with them, but we should wear high heels and flattering skirts that looked good from the back because those male colleagues were sure going to look us over when we couldn't catch them at it.
And such a lot we had to learn. By the time our luncheon crowd was regularized with a board, bylaws and elected officers, our first president, Judy Daniels, was starting Savvy magazine with Dominique Browning (now editor-in-chief of House & Garden) as her assistant. I had left Redbook to be managing editor of a start-up magazine (later folded) that McCall's was backing, with Kathy Fury as the editor-in-chief. Nora Ephron, who wrote a witty column then for Esquire and sometimes for New York Magazine and had connections at the Four Seasons, had booked our luncheons into the private dining room there.
There, in august splendor, up the stairs from the reflecting pool and through the heavy, silent wooden doors, we met and talked and argued. We argued about whether it was okay to save seats or should seating be random (yes); about name tags and whether we should wear them (no); about what to call ourselves. It was during my term that we finally selected Women's Media Group, a sufficiently dignified name, suitable for putting on expense accounts (for those members fortunate enough to have them).
Women's Media Group did indeed emerge as a genuine power circle. For instance, when Redbook had published Sula by the then little-known Toni Morrison, even though the book got great reviews and was nominated for the National Book Award, its sales were not impressive. When Redbook excerpted her next book, Song of Solomon, we determined that this talent should not be passed over and we lobbied for her to speak wherever we had connections, to serve on the faculty at Bread Loaf. I spoke to Betsy Osha, then booking guests for the Today Show, urging her to have Toni on to read from her new book. Betsy listened, Toni read, the book established Morrison as a major voice in American fiction.
Like Sally Arteseros, WMG's third president who these days works as an independent editor, I find corporations make better clients than owners or bosses. My consulting team has just launched Scientific American Explorations, and Latin Girl is also one of our clients. But about the most fun I've had with start-ups was the hot pink feminist political newsletter, the Getting It Gazette, which made its debut at the 1992 Democratic and Republican conventions. Without the support of WMG members, the Gazette would simply never have Got. And the world would've been a duller place.
Much appreciation goes to the members of the board during my presidency: Esther Margolis, Sally Arteseros, Wendy Weil, Joni Evans, Suzanne Levine, Betsy Osha, Patricia Bosworth, Suzanne McGanney.
During my presidency we continued to meet at the elegant Four Seasons, never mind the jump in price to $21 per lunch. Although we had few speakers, concentrating on networking among ourselves and our guests, among those who informed and entertained us was Christie Hefner of Playboy on "Playboy's Image of Women."
Board meetings were held at Wendy Weil's office at the Julian Bach Agency. On the board that year were Barbara Blakemore, Fredrica Friedman, Betsy Osha, Lucy Rosenthal, Elaine Markson, Suzanne McGanney and Patricia Bosworth.
One of the things I am proudest of from my term was hiring Barbara Cohen as our business manager. She was so well organized and I think she brought the managing of the group to a new level of professionalism. A book designer, she designed our WMG letterhead, translating the pride and professionalism we were feeling in the world of media into a visual symbol.
After welcoming 11 new members, our terrific board - Kate Medina, Nan Robertson, Carolyn Anthony, Fredrica Friedman, Lucy Rosenthal, Elaine Markson, Terry Lee and Rhoda Weyr—got down to business. A few special events during WMG's fourth year stand out in my mind.
Though many of our members wanted more frequent guest speakers at our luncheons - speakers were a rarity in those days—others wanted to remain solely a networking group. So we polled the membership on that subject and others, chiefly whether WMG wanted to be more politically involved. The upshot: a majority wanted more guest speakers, though no more than six a year, and yes, a majority did want more political involvement, though as a not-for-profit entity, we could not take political action as a group.
In the midst of the struggle to persuade states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, the American Booksellers Association was holding its annual convention in Chicago, though Illinois had refused to ratify the ERA. And when we learned that the following year the ABA would be in Atlanta, Georgia being another non-ERA state, we sent board member Elaine Markson to Chicago with a petition demanding that the 1981 convention site be changed to a state that was ERA-friendly. Elaine recalls that ABA officials gave her a small table to work from in a remote corner of the room. She promptly picked up the table and moved it to the center, where she stayed. She got a heartening response to the petition, hundreds of signatures. Even so, the convention was held in Atlanta the following year. And the ERA was never ratified by a sufficient number of states to become law. We at WMG were proud, nevertheless, that we had taken a stand.
That summer, when a hot contest was in the offing in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, we invited the three leading candidates to appear on a panel to be moderated by Betsy Wade. The three candidates accepted—former New York City Mayor John Lindsay, Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who had served on the Watergate Committee, and Bess Myerson, Commissioner of Consumer Affairs in the Koch administration. It was a fairly decorous exchange (maybe the Four Seasons setting inhibited them?) but it got us some press coverage. (P.S.: Holtzman won the Democratic primary but Al D'Amato, the Republican candidate, prevailed in November.)
In the fall, we proposed amending the WMG bylaws regarding membership to include women in films, TV and radio - hard to believe they were ever not included - and the amendment, need I say, passed.
In 1981 the burning issue before WMG was whether the group should have a purpose, or whether this was simply a place to meet old friends in the communication industry (mostly publishing) and make new ones. I believe we actually took a vote on it, and the socializers won over the activists by a considerable margin. Nevertheless, we supported members who demonstrated in favor of the ERA, and worked to defeat anti-abortion forces.
Most of our concerns were less weighty in those early years and some of them, by now, familiar. With the help of the splendid board - Emily Boxer, Lucia Staniels, Jennifer Josephy, Terry Lee, Rhoda Weyr, Kathy Fury, Carolyn Anthony and Judy Daniels - we undertook a search for a new place to meet after the Four Seasons threatened to raise its prices (a compromise was arrived at and we stayed). There was an ongoing debate about how often we should invite speakers to address the luncheon gathering - another aspect of the activist/socializer bifurcation. At Carol Rinzler's suggestion, we initiated the Foul Air Fund, which put together members seeking summer help and members' children in need of vacation jobs. We discussed initiating an annual WMG award, but that never happened. We also discussed setting up a loan fund for members, which came to pass two years later in Linda Exman's presidency.
I also remember from those days Joni Evans announcing her impending divorce to the membership at large at a lunch, and Carol Rinzler taking the floor to announce she was leaving publishing to go to Yale Law School. I remember the long-running debate over our name and I especially remember a hilarious meeting of the nominating committee at my apartment when we spent a half hour putting together a slate, and the rest of the evening discussing cosmetic surgery.
Action on issues the members care about, professional and personal support, a bit of frivolity and lots of friendship characterized the Women's Media Group in the '80s, as it does today. It's a combination that works.
Sex and money. That's what it was all about: what else is new? What fun it was to walk through the Pool Room of the Four Seasons, head held high, knowing that the wanna-be-seens might be looking to see who we were. Then up the steps, through the doors to the private dining room and closing those oh-so-solid doors behind us, leaving the Pool Roomers to wonder, "Who are those women, anyway?"
Of course it was expensive, $31.50 per lunch. Discussions at board meetings among members Linda Exman, Ruth Cavin, Jennifer Josephy, Gloria Norris, Betsy Wade, Carol Rinzler and Judy Daniels usually included: Could we keep the cost down? What about our less-fortunate sisters who'd lost their jobs (publishing being, then as now, a place where that happened all too often). Any discreet, compassionate way we could get the unemployed to lunch without their paying for it? (Did our gender opposites at the University Club have such concerns?) We were forever checking out other, possibly cheaper, venus. The Waldorf would give us a better rate: Still, did we really want to give up the power walk through the Pool Room? No. Maybe—this was suggested at one board meeting—we could ask the Four Seasons to cut out red meat to save money. Everybody was on a diet anyway.
On the outside, from the Pool Room tables, it must have looked as if we had arrived. We wore shoulder pads, we were getting ahead like crazy. I remember when one of the founding members bought herself a gorgeous full-length mink coat. That was a vivid marker of change for women of my generation who remembered that in their parents' days it was men who bought furs for women, often ugly little mink stoles complete with paws. And for a little while it was true that we were moving ahead, and fast. It was also true that behind our own closed doors we were quietly taking salary surveys that revealed (surprise!) that we were still earning less than our male counterparts; movement seemed breathtakingly fast and excruciatingly slow at the same time.
We talked about whether we could make a contribution to the ever-threatened abortion rights movement without endangering our tax-exempt status. Board notes reveal that we thought we might "perhaps present a tentative resolution on the right of free choice" (this phrasing as opposed to abortion rights). We decided to go ahead. I remember standing at the podium the next month and doing my best to announce without a trace of tentativeness that the board promised to give money to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League [NARAL] and sign a pro-choice petition. We needn't have worried: members responded with overwhelming approval and we took what I think was our first "political" action.
From the vantage point of our 25th year, it's fun to look back at WMG's 10th anniversary season. I believe 1983 was a watershed year for WMG.
My tenure as president coincided with a major shift in the makeup of our membership. For the first time, a mind-boggling one-third of our members were self-employed-freelancing or starting up their own businesses. Some of us had fallen out of love with corporate life and wanted to run our own shows. Others fell prey to "downsizing," a term not yet in common parlance, but the trend had begun and our board was alert to its ramifications.
The concerns of self-employed and unemployed members were addressed in several ways. WMG arranged to make group medical insurance available by affiliating our organization with Support Services Alliance. That year we also established a relationship for a time with four executive recruiters to provide career counseling for anyone who wanted to advance faster in her current field or explore the possibilities of switching gears-or careers. And work began on a loan program to provide members with emergency funds, if needed.
The board also focused on the need for women to take charge of their financial lives. We organized three evening seminars on the subject, as well as a luncheon program on "Women and Finance." Seeds were sown for the first WMG investment club. On the recreational side, WMG members became eligible to join TDF (Theatre Development Fund), thanks to the good offices of Betsy Wade.
My fondest memory of my year as president was getting to know so many of our members. In particular, working with an outstanding board - Anne McCormick, Wendy Lipkind, Ruth Cavin, Lisa Drew, Joan Gelman, Lisel Eisenheimer, Carol Rinzler and Betsy Wade—was a special treat. In addition to the employment and financial matters, the minutes of our board meetings reflect an ongoing concern with broadening WMG's membership to include more women of color. The paucity of African-American colleagues in our industry was especially decried, and a special effort to locate and recruit candidates was begun. More representatives from radio, TV and film were also sought to balance the preponderance of members in publishing and print media.
To mark WMG's anniversary, a gala party, chaired by Anne McCormick, took place at the Cosmopolitan Club in February. (Milly Marmur raised her hand at a luncheon to ask how to dress for the occasion. "It doesn't matter, as long as you dye your shoes to match your dress," I replied, a response that for some reason brought down the house.) Carolyn Anthony wrote a history of WMG's first ten years for the festive event, describing WMG as a "club consisting of 169 of the ranking women in the communications industry."
One of WMG's Founding Mothers, Carol Rinzler, was fond of saying the original group got together to talk about "our jobs, our futures, boys and lip gloss." Carol succeeded me as president of WMG, and the baton I passed to her was (what else?) Chanel's "Glossimer." She would doubtless be pleased to see how the group has grown and now gives back to the community. But plus ça a change...
Carol Rinzler was a founder of WMG and became president in 1984. She was a hard-working, determined, and inventive president, traits that characterized her career as a writer, editor and attorney.
During her term, WMG, working with the New York Volunteer Program, sponsored a series of classes covering the field of communications at three New York high schools and a number of WMG members became part-time instructors. There was a determined effort to recruit new members from a mix of media and particularly to increase the number of Asian and African-American members. Work continued on finding a bank to handle the WMG loan fund, and a Watch Committee that would keep tabs on abortion rights, the ERA and other matters of concern to women was formed.
There was, again, a crisis as to where we would meet. The cost of a lunch was about to take a sizable jump at the Four Seasons and, besides, we had almost outgrown the space. We tested eateries here and there around town, a search that would continue into the next two years, and a retreat was held at Gurney's Inn in Long Island. More went on but the notes are incomplete.
Carol died unexpectedly at the age of 49 in December 1990. Were she here to write it, her summary of her presidency would be stylish, perhaps even a bit understated, for that was her way, and it would surely have been funny, for she was one of the wittiest women around. This must do instead as a way of saying, Well done! and, We miss you. - Carolyn Anthony
The presidency in 1985 was a busy, difficult and satisfying time when WMG took a number of important steps.
Board members of this term were Paula Diamond, Joyce Engelson, Mildred Hird, Betty Kelly, Milly Marmur, Julie Osler and Betty Rollins. Carole Baron, who started a term on the board but could not continue, was replaced by Audrey Edwards.
During the previous years, the board had discussed creating a fund that would quickly and discreetly help members with small loans for such needs as tuition or rent or clothes for an interview. With the approval of the membership, this came into being in 1985. Fast loans became available at Amalgamated Bank at a low secured rate, with backing provided by WMG's own funds. Using our joint strength to help a few of our own had great appeal.
The Group's second salary survey was reported by Gene Young, who headed the committee. The responses were fewer than in the first survey, mainly because members now holding big-title positions felt they would be too easily identifiable, but the results still helped members bargaining for new jobs or upgrading.
The high school enrichment project, headed by Joan Gelman, had an excellent second year at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School at Lincoln Center. In the next academic year, Beverly Schanzer and Loretta Barrett took over, and the program moved on to the A. Philip Randolph Campus High School at City College.
The most visible aspect of change was our search for a new luncheon site now that we had left the Four Seasons behind when the owners wrote that they were raising the fare from $38 to $80. Thus began our migrations to the Russian Tea Room, the Rockefeller Lunch Club at the Rainbow Room, the Atrium and the Yale Club, where we stayed for a while. Not a good year that way, and the one month we tried a cocktail party rather than a lunch, we lost money.
Invisible to many members were the coalitions the board formed and the contacts we made in a period of feminist ferment. The board gave me permission to use the mailing list to send out a letter from Emily's List, the pro-choice political fund-raising organization. Although not all members approved, a number signed up. In addition, members provided information to the Law Department of New York City, then challenging the membership rules of private clubs in the city and attempting to learn about so-called "private" professionally oriented meetings at the Century Association, the University Club and the Union League Club, where exclusion might have had an adverse effect on women's careers.
When I became a member in the mid-70s, I did not qualify as someone with an above-the-fold title. I was invited because the sex-discrimination lawsuit against The New York Times was in full cry and WMG members wanted to endorse our efforts. I never expected to be president, but it was wonderful to become friends with people I might otherwise never have met and who have since become joys in my life. One of my sharpest memories is watching the light move and change with the seasons through the windows of Betty Rollins' living room where the board most often met. The members of this board made things possible, and we did a lot.
During my term the board was made up of Milly Marmur, Paula Diamond, Joy Cook, Jane Isay, Betty Prashker, Elaine Markson, Julie Osler and Audrey Edwards. We dealt with a number of issues during the year and several projects were introduced, among these, a study of WMG salaries and a WMG guide to services offered members.
There were some events that, though they had a promising send-off, were discontinued in time, among them an annual luncheon to which all members of Women in Publishing were invited and a once-only event sponsored by Barney's as a modified fund-raiser (we netted $750) that honored various women's groups including WMG. We continued our support of the Adopt-a-School program, that year under the guidance of Loretta Barrett and Beverly Schanzer. And though we discussed at length and at several meetings a proposal to sponsor a WMG Lifetime Achievement Award to be given to an outstanding member of the media, we failed to put it into place.
Consistent on-going debates were on some by now familiar issues as 1) Luncheon prices and venue 2) Whether to have programs at the luncheons, with a decision later in the year that we would go from none to two and 3) Whether to re-instate the verbal "bulletin board" feature at the lunches or distribute these personal (and personnel) announcements in written form, the latter format winning out.
We worked on the Adopt-a-School program, including the High School for the Humanities program that Elaine Markson set up, which I believe was one of our most significant accomplishments that year. On the networking front, we again invited members of Women in Publishing to a lunch, giving us an opportunity to get to know a younger generation in publishing.
What I remember with great pleasure are the friendships that came out of the board relationships, the bonhomie of meeting in each other's offices or homes and getting to know each other in an informal manner. On the board were Lorraine Shanley, Gay Bryant, Irma Heldman Greenwald, Joy Cook, Jane Isay, Betty Prashker, Marlene Sanders and Nancy Star.
In reviewing the minutes of the time I served, I note that we talked at several meetings about ways of connecting with women of similar interests and concerns outside our group. We brought up the idea of setting up a reciprocal arrangement for visitors whereby WMG members would host visitors to New York and we would be hosted likewise when we visited another city. We also discussed inviting representatives of other New York women's groups to join us for lunch occasionally and brief us on their goals. So far as I know, neither has been put into effect and perhaps these are ideas to pursue as we start our next 25 years.
I enjoyed my two-year tenure as president, particularly working with my boards—Judith Applebaum, Maureen Baron, Jackie Farber, Irma Heldman Greenwald, Carole Hill, Marlene Sanders, Nancy Starr and Phyllis Wender, and Sandi Mendelson, Rachel Ginsburg, Arlene Friedman, Beverly Schanzer, Susan Dalsimer and Judy Applebaum.
We revised the bylaws, worked with organizations such as Women in Need and Literacy Volunteers, hosted such guest speakers as Grace Mirabella and Sallie Bingham and were frequently preoccupied with the familiar question, Where to Eat. We tried the St. Moritz and the Harvard Club, looked into current prices at the Four Seasons and "21." We abolished August luncheons and instituted, for a short time, special interest tables at the lunches.
And we worried about the membership—was it broad enough? active enough? engaged? But then as now, there was a spirit to each lunch that made every one memorable - because of the person you were seated next to or the speaker or the informal conversation at the pre-lunch cocktail hour.
Even in 1990, we were still worrying two questions: Who are we? Where should we eat? These troublesome matters generated much discussion, and yet the Friends of Scarlett O'Hara generally believed that lunch, talk and networking constituted a great plenty, without adding speakers. I began my first board meeting by saying that I had a presidential fiat ready and unless they impeached me, those questions were going to be put to rest. We were going to add regular speakers to the mix, and we were going to move the lunch. Through the good work of Phyllis Wender, we eventually signed a contract with the "21" Club, where we've enjoyed good food and excellent speakers ever since.
Lining up our speakers meant a lot of our members worked long and hard to create lively lunches for us, listening to, among others, Linda Fairstein, Deborah Norville, Ronnie Eldridge, Faith Popcorn, Cathie Black, Linda Bird Francke, Christie Heffner, Flo Kennedy, Donna Shalala, Ellen Futter, Elizabeth Holtzman, Geraldine Ferraro and Felice Schwartz. We also had a panel on women in Russia, moderated by Marlene Sanders (and featuring journalist Yelena Khanga from Moscow) and in December the Bandersnatch Glee Club sang for us, thanks to Anne Mollegen Smith whose husband, David, was in the group.
Luckily we attacked the food and talk issues right away since, as the next two years moved on, general business consumed much of our time—rescuing the treasury, for example, whose downward glide was being carefully tracked by Arlene Friedman, treasurer for the first term. We hauled ourselves back into solvency without too much trouble and Lisel Eisenheimer, the next year's treasurer, looked at happier numbers. We were conscious in 1990 of beginning a new decade and of having emerged, we thought, from the getting and spending and me-firstism of the 1980s. Our board generally believed we ought to find ways of being more politically and socially active as a group. Through our speakers we achieved something along these lines, but we also had a pro-choice committee, a political action committee and a legal affairs committee to report on issues affecting women. Elaine Markson, Harriet Dorsen, Betsy Wade, Phyllis Wender, Selma Shapiro and Susan Margolis took the lead and helped involve our members with groups such as NARAL and Emily's List, as well as seeking out political speakers. Several WMG members joined with other women in publishing to travel to Washington to protest the gag rule that prevented health care providers from mentioning abortion. Ruth Whitney, then running Glamour, made an especially impressive speech before our assembled group, as did Faye Wattleton. The law was eventually changed and we believe that our turn-out helped.
I also asked the board to find some effective charitable organizations that needed volunteers. Sarah Lazin introduced our group to a day care/head start facility, The Friendly Place in Harlem; our members donated money and books and Sarah gave her time as well. Lorraine Shanley led our work with Women in Need during these years and we especially enjoyed playing Santa Claus to their children at Christmas, stuffing crayons, books, etc., into brand new backpacks, and in 1991 raised enough money to donate $1,200 to the organization as well. Elisabeth Scharlatt introduced us to "Bedtime Story Project," which, though billed as reading to children in hospitals, turned out to be a bit different, as my husband Ed and I discovered when we managed an activities room for an hour each week for children aged 5 to 14, all in wheelchairs, and not about to listen to a story.
Even though many of our projects come and go, WMG continues to be an organization that reaches out to others, whether through publishing programs in various high schools, our intern program, our aid to women in prison (through Joan Gelman's efforts) or through one of the many other programs we have sponsored.
As for WMG's Red Book, that grew out of my desperation when I tried to find out how things were supposed to work, and where in the devil was my copy of the bylaws and who took my membership list. The Red Book, a loose leaf notebook, explains it all, and succeeding presidents keep it up to date and add to it as they wish.
Working with members of the Board for two terms constituted one of the finer experiences of my life: thanks to Sandi Mendelson, Susan Margolis, Nina Hoffman, Lisel Eisenheimer, Susan Dalsimer, Audrey Edwards, Sarah Lazin, Beverly Schanzer in 1990 and Joan Gelman, Sally Arteseros and Elisabeth Scharlett, who with two-term members from 1990, served on the board the next year.
My tenure as president took place during a special time in WMG's history. The previous fall, the Clarence Thomas hearings had shocked and outraged us and there was a sense of community and purpose in the group that was reflected in our revitalized public policy committee, our growth in membership and our stimulating slate of luncheon speakers, most of them from the political arena. It was the election year of 1992 and many of us were eager to see a new regime in Washington. A number of us participated in a candlelight march for Clinton and Gore and we focused on political issues in our quarterly newsletter.
The lunches continued at "21" and our roster of speakers started off with Nadine Strossen, the dynamic head of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was followed by Geraldine Ferraro and, in the usually slow month of July, we had a big turnout for Ellen Malcolm, founder and president of Emily's List, the organization that supports pro-choice Democratic women seeking political office. Speaking of Emily's List, Joan Gelman came up with a fabulous idea: she designed a button featuring Dan Quayle's face behind a slash in a circle with the caption, "Just Say Noe." We raised over $8,000 for Emily's list selling them. Other speakers were New York Post columnist Amy Pagnozzi, journalist and author Jane O'Reilly, Laura Flanders of FAIR [Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting] and the late Nancy Woodhull, a founding editor of USA Today and trustee of Freedom Forum.
We conducted the third salary survey, thanks to Jane Ciabattari and Julia Kagan, and on the nuts and bolts side, instituted an initiation fee for new members so that we could hold dues steady. None of this would have happened without hard work from the board—Sally Arteseros, Lynn Goldberg, Anne Mollegen Smith, Joan Gelman, Martha Southgate, Jane Pasanen, Elisabeth Scharlatt, Nina Hoffman and Jane Ciabattari.
I was president in 1993—for one week. No, I was not impeached (we did not have an internship program then). I chose to step down when I was offered a demanding job at CBS News. As I mentioned in my resignation letter, CBS pays better than WMG (though the lunches are not as good).
However, even though my reign was short, it was fraught with accomplishments—too many to mention. My greatest: when I invented the Internet. My proudest: the fruit plate at "21." Modesty prevents me from going on. I still regret that I couldn't serve out my term—the money is looking better every day, and I miss the gavel.
When I was president we:
Many thanks to the hard-working board members during my two terms - Martha Levin, Jane Ciabattari, Lois Shapiro, Rhoda Weyr, Lynn Goldberg, Paula Bernstein, Genevieve Young, Daryl Alexander, Julia Kagan, Martha Southgate, Kathy Novak, Susan Richman and Arlynn Greenbaum.
We had a wonderful and productive year. Our board - Harriet Blacker, Gene Young, Rhoda Weyr, Arlynn Greenbaum, Daryl Alexander, Jane Isay, Julia Kagan and Beverly Schanzer - was smart, wise, fun and funny, active and committed. We had lots of ideas and accomplished a lot.
We launched the Culture Club with Master Class starring Zoë Caldwell and produced the first WMG tee shirt for members. Our computer class, already underway, was a sell-out and we made a $500 contribution to the Women's Feature Service which covered the UN Conference on Women and Children in Beijing.
But perhaps our greatest legacy was the start-up of the WMG Internship Program, whereby each summer two deserving women about to enter their senior college year received paid internships funded by WMG, a program designed to help bring into the world of media women who would not be able to afford non-paid internships. Our first participating corporations were Channel 13 and Putnam.
We experienced sadness as well, losing two of our most treasured members, Vivian Cadden and Lois Shapiro. It was a memorable year, for the work we did and the friendships we made.
I missed the handing over of the gavel at the March lunch in 1996. I was in Paris at the Salon du Livre but, just to show the reach of our membership, that same evening ran into fellow WMG member Maureen Egan at a reception given by Pamela Harriman at her ambassadorial residence. The rest of the year went by in a flash, with monthly board meetings filled with passion and humor.
Adrienne Ingrum, program chair, and her committee brought us writers Susan Isaacs and Letty Pogrebin, critic Margo Jefferson, Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, Hollywood producer Lindsay Doran, Helen Gurley Brown, Dr. Jimmie Holland, specialist in the psychology of cancer, and basketball pro Rebecca Lobo. Participants at our media panel were members Janice Castro, Linda Fasulo, Susan Ralston and Anne Mollegen Smith.
Harriet Blacker continued as point person for the Culture Club and Julia Kagan organized an Internet class for members interested in going online and establishing a website. The "21" Club called for a substantial increase in our luncheon price; treasurer Arlynn Greenbaum and I negotiated for several months to $50 a head.
The Rinzler Resource, a medical buddy system named after former president Carol Rinzler, was created. Carol had once commented that an horrendous hospital experience had convinced her that nobody should have to go to the hospital alone. The Rinzler Resource provides members facing illness with information about doctors, hospitals and treatments as well as personal support from a fellow member familiar with the medical problem. Gene Young proposed the idea and she and Rhoda Weyr got it started.
The WMG Internship Program, created during Selma Shapiro's term, was launched in the summer under the direction of Selma, Beverly Schanzer and Jane Isay. Adrienne Ingrum volunteered to help get the word out to recruit candidates and she, Selma Shapiro and Beverly Schanzer have continued to keep the program thriving. (Also, the board designated half of each initiation fee for the internship fund.)
Toward the end of my presidency I invited past presidents to a meeting to discuss how we would celebrate our 25th anniversary. Though it was three years in the future, I had served on the board during the 20th anniversary and knew how much hard work celebrations took. We had many ambitious thoughts—from writing a book to putting on a lecture series or a photography exhibition of great moments in our history, such as Gene Young editing Kissinger, Judy Daniels putting the Village Voice to bed, Betsy Wade on the picket line at The New York Times. The board approved three suggestions that would involve minimal expense: a benefit screening that would help create an endowment to fund our internship program, a panel and cocktail party honoring our literary lionesses, and this anecdotal series of reminiscences from past presidents of our first 25 years that would be incorporated into our history and added to each year by succeeding presidents. Serving as 25th anniversary chair of the celebration activities has kept me involved with the always interesting, powerful and witty group of women on WMG's boards for another several years. Boards just like mine, and all appreciation to Harriet Blacker, Gillian Jolis, Rhoda Weyr, Arlynn Greenbaum, Malaika Adero, Karen Daly, Jane Isay and Beverly Schanzer.
During my two years as president, we had active boards, hard-working members, nominating and entertainment committees and a fine business manager, Alix McLean, who collected dues, executive-produced our luncheons at "21" and edited the monthly newsletter. She also coordinated the printing of the Register, which Betsy Wade re-designed to include the bylaws and information on such member services as the Rinzler Resource, medical insurance and loan fund.
Both boards were committed to the continuing support of the internship program chaired by Adrienne Ingrum and Beverly Schanzer. At the request of the board, Susan Ralston set up the WMG Educational Foundation, which will be a tax-exempt foundation to receive contributions for our internship program for college students. Joan Gelman wished to reach younger students as well and arranged a weekly media course for students at Louis D. Brandeis High School. Our members enthusiastically volunteered to teach one day a week and when I showed up to talk about agenting with my client Mark O'Donnell, we were both intrigued to see that the words chlamydia and bourgeois were next to each other on the chalkboard, one presumed to be from a recent health class, the other a remnant of the lesson of the WMG lecturer the week before.
Our luncheons were glittering as always, climaxing with restaurant critic Ruth Reichl's wigged appearance. Linda Fasulo and Esther Margolis chaired the committee that arranged for journalists, magazine and book editors, authors, health professionals, politicians, lawyers and other stars to inform and entertain us. We continued our April Take Our Daughters to Work lunch and featured as speakers mother-daughter team Hilma and Meg Wolitzer in 1998, and Lois Wyse, her daughter and granddaughter in 1999. The Briny Breezes Motel in Montauk was the site both years of a carefree autumn member weekend when in addition to sing-alongs, massages and a modest bonfire, Jane Ciabattari continued to discuss plans for the celebration of our 25th anniversary in 1999 and the year 2000. Many thanks to her and to my board members—for '98, Linda Loewenthal, Gillian Jolis, Rhoda Weyr, Susan Ralston, Malaika Adero, Karen Daly, Gayle Feldman and Jamie Rabb; for '99, Susan Ralston, Gayle Feldman and Jamie Raab continuing for a second term joined by new members Betsy Wade, May Wuthrich, Beverly Schanzer and Irma Heldman Greenwald.
I was especially fortunate to be president during our 25th anniversary celebration. Thanks to the efforts and foresight of Jane Ciabattari, the three special events she envisioned all came to fruition. The first was this series of ongoing presidential reminiscences in the register. The second was a successful cocktail party and screening of Girl Interrupted, which also benefitted our Educational Foundation. The third was a stimulating panel on Media Strategies for the 21st Century featuring Lesley Stahl, Jane Friedman, Carol Wallace, and Alex Kuczynski, moderated by Marlene Sanders of Newseum/NY. Although the media panel technically took place a week after I passed the president's gavel to Andrea Chambers, Jane, Andrea and I planned the event during the course of my term with a constant stream of e-mails.
I was also fortunate that the long-awaited 401c3 tax-exempt status of our Educational Foundation was finally approved during my term. Thanks to Susan Ralston for her perseverance. I have volunteered to chair a fundraising committee; our goal is to create an endowment that will fund our Internship Program.
Reading my predecessor's entries, I realize how important the venue for our luncheons has been. One of my first duties was to negotiate our contract with The "21" Club, and I was pleased to arrange a modest ten percent increase and an 18-month contract. We continued our lively and enlightening lunches there with such notable speakers as Lynn Sherr, Nancy Evans, Anthea Disney, Natalie Angier, and Tim and Nina Zagat. Thanks to program chair Jane Wesman and her committee for their diligent efforts.
I tried a few noble, but not too successful, experiments such as a new member cocktail party and a member questionnaire. My savvy and supportive board and I came up with a few new things that did work: inviting guest speakers to be honorary members for one year (after that they can pay), getting liability insurance, dropping our health insurance program (no one was using it), and instituting a stricter dues policy—pay by April 30 or else! I thank every one of my board members: Robin Straus, Beverly Schanzer, Irma Greenwald, Lucia Staniels, Susan Ralston, Trish Todd, May Wuthrich and Andrea Chambers. Lisa Singer was a marvelous business manager. All in all, it was an exciting term.
We began this year still glowing from all the festivities celebrating our 25th anniversary. We could easily have rested on our laurels and continued the status quo. However, with the help of my terrific board, we launched a number of new initiatives all aimed at broadening our scope and reach.
First of all, we took a careful look at the organization's advocacy and outreach over the quarter century, and decided to consolidate our efforts into our Educational Foundation. We received official foundation status only last year, and felt we should start aggressive fund raising. Our goal was to create a permanent endowment that would allow us to expand our internship program. Arlynn Greenbaum agreed to be foundation chair and under her auspices we began aggressive fund raising, helped by the expertise of a professional fund raiser. We inaugurated the program in August and by March had received substantial donations from ABC-Cap Cities, Time Warner, Bloomberg, HBO, and Primedia, Inc., my own parent company. In addition, many of our own members reached out to a year-end call for donations. By the end of my term, we had raised $46,350, including $2,850 in individual donations. As a result, we were able to increase the number of Women's Media Group paid interns to four.
Our second goal as we entered our 26th year was to keep the organization as young, fresh and diverse as possible. We felt that it was enormously important to attract a wide group of new members from every branch of the media. To that end, we took a hard look at the membership rules created by our Founding Mothers, and decided to shake them up. We voted to allow members to nominate potential new members from their own companies, and to propose more than one candidate. As a result, we voted 37 new members into the organization this year and welcomed back two former members. We have a wide representation of new members not only from traditional book and magazine publishing but television and online.
Another priority for the Board this year was to heed a request we have heard from members from time to time and that is to have an evening program in addition to the monthly lunches. After much discussion, we felt it was important to offer what we hoped might be the first of many career workshops. Our February 6th panel on Women and Money in the Workplace, moderated by Marlene Sanders, provided tips and advice from three top career counseling professionals. We also opened our doors to members of other prominent women's organizations: Women in Publishing and the Publishers Publicity Association. While the attendance was relatively small, we felt we provided valuable information and solidified relationships with sister organizations.
Now, lest it sound like all our time was spent on educational and community service efforts, we also put a great deal of time and effort into our networking lunches at the "21" Club. Program Chair Mary Lou Brady and I worked hard this year to raise the bar on speakers. We determined that we would seek out high-profile women in the news. And we invited speakers from many different branches of media. To name just a few of our distinguished speakers, we heard author Marie Brenner talk movingly about her mother, one of the women profiled in her highly admired book Grand Dames. New York Times columnist Gail Collins spoke frankly about Bush, Gore and Hillary. We heard columnist Liz Smith dish about many topics, including her own sexuality. Political columnist Arianna Huffington gave us her views on the significance of the 2000 election. Helen Thomas talked about the trials of covering the White House. Harpers Bazaar Editor Kate Betts spoke about how tough it was to give birth to a new baby and a new magazine simultaneously. And a number of our speakers this year and their publishers were generous enough to let us take home free copies of their books! This is another tradition we hope to continue.
One other major board decision this year was to eliminate the loan program we offered to members through the Amalgamated Bank. The Board felt that to continue this policy was not fiscally responsible.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those with whom I worked so closely under my Presidency: Program Chair Mary Lou Brady; Foundation Chair Arlynn Greenbaum; Internship Chair Emma Sweeney; Nominating Chair Jane Ciabattari; New Member Chair Maria Campbell and my distinguished Board of Directors: Lisa Drew, Arlynn Greenbaum, Sally Koslow, Lucia Staniels, Robin Strauss, Trish Todd, Breene Wesson and Jane Wesman. And a special thanks to our able business manager, Molly Lyons.
Six months after I began my first term as President of WMG, our lives split in two: Before 9/11 and After 9/11. The events of that day knocked the wind out of us, and caused each of us—as women, media professionals, New Yorkers, Americans—to re-examine our personal and civic priorities and values. As an organization, the Women's Media Group had just begun reviewing its relevance, usefulness and mission. A "New Directions" meeting of present and former Board members and committee chairs had been scheduled for mid-September, but this was postponed until we began to rebound from our universal state of mourning and disorientation.
When we finally met in January 2002, a number of new initiatives were launched, and several members volunteered to provide leadership: Maria Campbell's New Members Committee proposed and implemented innovative ways for us to greet and integrate the approximately three dozen women who join WMG each year, beginning with a cocktail party in April. Jane Wesman put together several after-work seminars devoted to enhancing professional skills and motivation. Joan Sanger revived the Culture Club and organized an enjoyable theater party. Marlene Sanders and Judy Daniels began a discussion group that segued into our new, instantly successful "intimate dinners" program;dinners for 8 at members' homes that provide us with a chance to get to know one another in a smaller setting than the monthly luncheon.
The jewel in our crown is the WMG Internship Program, whose goal is to increase diversity in the media. Arlynn Greenbaum and her fund-raising committee—Grace Freedson, Gillian Jolis and May Wuthrich—raised more than $45,000 in 2001 and then astonished us all by raising another $45,000 during the dismal economic turndown of 2002. Thanks to Kathy Boyle, the president of Chapin Hill Advisors, these funds were invested wisely and prudently, to insure a stable base for continuing and even expanding the internship program. Indeed, committees led by Emma Sweeney in 2001 and Camille McDuffie in 2002 each recruited, interviewed and placed a half-dozen stellar interns, several of whom are now going on to begin their careers at major media concerns. We can—and DO—take great pride in this program.
The internship program was a factor in our development of a web site (www.womensmediagroup.org), as so many young women automatically assumed that they could find out about WMG by looking online. Thanks to designer Victoria Lau and our Business Manager, Molly Lyons, we launched a clean and comprehensive web site that has already saved us many thousands of dollars in postage costs and has made it easier for us to get our message out to prospective members, funders and interns.
The job of Program Chair is not an easy one. My hat's off to Linda Exman—who in the 2001-02 "season" enabled us to hear from several fascinating media women, such as Lisa Belkin and Joyce Purnick of The New York Times, Diane Weathers of Essence, Rosanna Rosado of El Diario/La Prensa, Sheila Nevins of HBO and playwright Eve Ensler—and to Elisa Petrini, who made sure that in 2002-03, as we faced deeply disturbing world problems, our speakers included such knowledgeable women as former U. S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who had prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombers; Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistleblower; and Gina Kolata of the Times. Thanks to Linda and Elisa in turn, our luncheons at "21" were stimulating and informative as well as being excellent networking opportunities.
During my two terms as President I was blessed to work with so many dedicated and supportive Board members—in 2001 Mary Lou Brady (Treasurer), Andrea Chambers, Lisa Drew, Sally Koslow, Marlene Sanders, Joan Sanger, Emma Sweeney, Jane Wesman and Breene Wesson (Secretary); in 2002 Mary Lou, Maria Campbell, Wendy Hubbert (Secretary), Anne McCormick, Marlene, Joan, Jill Sansone and Emma. I offer my thanks and appreciation to them—and to the committee chairs named above; Sally Arteseros and Andrea Chambers, nominating chairs; Elisa Petrini and Wendy Sherman, membership chairs; Lisa Singer, working right now on the 2003 internship program; and our steadfast Business Manager, Molly Lyons.
Though we face an uncertain and perilous future in the media, the economy, and indeed the world (as I write this the US is on the brink of invading Iraq), I'm happy to affirm that our organization is strong, flexible, and fulfilling its mission.
While I was president, we had a very active board with lively discussions on important topics. I was especially fortunate to have a board comprised of women who care deeply about WMG and were very engaged in these discussions. The board members were Maria Campbell, Ann McCormick, Elisa Petrini, Jill Sansone, and president emeritus Susan Ralston. Our treasurer was Gail Rentsch, secretary Wendy Hubbert, and Molly Lyons was and is our own exceptional and very hard-working business manager. In addition to acting as our liaison at the '21' club, Molly collects dues and edits the monthly newsletter.
Our board was very involved initially in the renewal of the '21' contract. We decided to stay at '21' because its location is central, speakers like to come there, and they are good to us. Some of us even use the word "homey" to describe how it feels there. They raised the price for our lunches, from 60 to $67 per person, a little over 10% for the year, but we agreed we would charge members $65.
We focused for a good part of the year on defining the section of the by-laws regarding new members and decided to add language as follows: "Each candidate proposed for membership shall have five (5) years experience in her chosen field and/or distinguished herself in that field." The membership approved this language. I am very grateful to the board for their time and attention to this matter—I feel proud of the fact that we came to a good solution, one that pleased everyone and seems very much in keeping with the spirit of WMG.
Internship chair Lisa Singer did an amazing job by finding 13 jobs for 13 interns. She definitely raised the bar for the Internship Program, and thankfully Beth de Guzman, who was on her committee, agreed to chair the committee for the following year. Lisa also instituted two programs to help the interns—brown bag lunches and the mentor program—both of that proved popular and successful. Arlynn Greenbaum, who founded the WMG Educational Fund committee, managed yet again to attract more donations, bringing in $35,900.
Wendy Sherman, Membership Chair, worked (single-handedly) to bring in new members and did a wonderful job.
Throughout the year we were entertained and enlightened by wonderful speakers at our lunches, thanks to Program Chairs Elisa Petrini and Melanie Fleishman and their committees. Some of the speakers were Gail Collins, Margaret Carlson, Rory Kennedy. We even had one man, Simon Doonan, author of Wacky Chicks. Even though everyone loved his talk, the board decided that we would preserve our commitment to having exceptional women speakers. I invited as my guest for that lunch legendary editor Larry Ashmead who was retiring that month after 43 years in publishing. It was a nice opportunity for the WMG to say good bye and wish him well.
Last summer we had our first annual intern party which was a big hit. Elisa Petrini organized and co-hosted the party at Adrienne Ingrum's house. It was definitely a hot day but the food was delicious and it was clear the interns enjoyed meeting everyone. I know I enjoyed meeting them.
Finally: We have a new binder! I'm very glad for that, and thankful to Molly for her hard work in printing it up and seeing it through.
During my 2 year tenure I served with 2 different boards and had the pleasure and privilege of working with very smart, dedicated, and energetic women. I can't recognize or thank them enough: Brigitte Weeks and Marysue Rucci (both program chairs); Joelle Delbourgo and Deirdre Smerillo (treasurers); Lynn Seligman and Gayle Feldman (board secretaries) as well as Carol Schneider, Judith Curr, Wendy Weill, Susan Weinberg, Claire Tisne, and the president emeritus Elisa Petrini. Of course our indefatigable business Manager Molly Lyons kept everything running smoothly and kept me on track regarding schedules and deadlines. I personally found the Board experience to be very gratifying, a way to interact with wonderful publishing colleagues, and I urge all members to consider Board service at some point in their membership.
During my first year we pursued an aggressive recruitment for new members, striving for members from different areas of the media as well as companies or organizations that were underrepresented. The result was a near record of 45 new members that first year.
Another initiative was the decision to hire a paid administrator from outside the organization to run the increasingly complicated intern program. We did this for 2 reasons: 1) the task had proved especially time consuming for the previous chairs of the committee and 2) we wanted someone to focus on the original mission of the program: to recruit minority women who would not ordinarily have access to such a mentoring program. We wanted to see young women from local colleges, who could benefit from the collective wisdom of our organization rather than young women with already stellar resumes from some of the nation’s most selective universities. Our new director, Renee Walters, has been working hard to fulfill our goals and we look forward to meeting this summer's interns in June.
I also wanted to bring our web site into the 21st century. Molly Lyons and Deirdre Smerillo deserve special thanks for their efforts here. I hope it becomes a site where WMG members can communicate, where the President can address the members directly, and where WMG business memos can be posted on a regular basis. In addition, I look forward to the time when we can all RSVP for our luncheons by clicking “yes” on the site, which will retain and categorize all the information.
Another initiative was invite lunch speakers who could offer some substantive ideas about the sobering times in which we live: Katrina van den Heuvel, Gretchen Dykstra, Francine Prose. Of course we were also happy to listen to Nora Ephron, Jennifer Weiner, Ruby Dee and Mira Nair regale us with stories about their successes in film and book publishing. I consider the guest appearance of Carolyn Reidy, newly appointed President and CEO of S&S, a highlight of the program committee. She provided a down-to-earth, straight talk on her own management style, reminding us that common sense is far less common than it should be. Everyone at that lunch felt that her words were a breath of fresh air and could provide the content for a brilliant management guide for all of us (and those for whom we work).
Finally, there was a great deal of talk about venue. Should we stay at the 21 Club where costs were increasing? Some members found the lunch price too high and prompted us to offer other ways for members to get together: cocktail parties, movie screenings, and there is talk about gatherings for specific topics (retirement, working motherhood) that the new Board can pursue. I personally will work to bring back the small dinners next fall. But for all our talk about venue, many of us believe that 21 has many benefits: good location, some prestige (to convince speakers to come), flexible space (we host anywhere from 35 to 110 members at our lunches), and a good working relationship with our business manager, which we should not take lightly. In the end, we chose not to pursue another venue at this time.
As the media industry is facing increasing challenges -- digitalization, disintermediation, an uncertain economy, and a culture that increasingly prizes instantaneous answers in lieu of thought-provoking questions -- I believe WMG will continue to provide a meeting place where members can support one another, seek new opportunities, and use their collective wisdom to better serve our industry and community.