The 2017 – 2018 term has been a tumultuous year for OMA and FCEF. At last year’s Annual Meeting we elected an expanded board with several exciting new faces. Already, two of those newcomers are filling vital roles on our Executive Committees – Susan Robinson as Vice President and Elizabeth Jessop as Treasurer. Also, Christopher Hamilton as head of our Advocacy Committee is representing us in Salem. It is the first time we have had a continuing presence in the halls of the legislature.
But there have also been some difficulties. Our office manager for the last couple of years, Robin Chilstrom, gave notice in October to pursue other dreams. As all who had contact with her know, Robin was our bulwark. She handled member calls at all times of the day and night, totally redesigned our web page, reorganized our electronic files, presided over the Annual Meeting and managed the office, all on a part-time salary. Finding the right replacement for Robin took us until February, and the search consumed most of our volunteer time during that period.
So, I want to introduce you here to our new manager, Mary Ziemer-McGinn. Mary has a long career in public sector and charity management, including City of Seattle Human Services and Children’s Advocacy Centers of Washington. Besides the requisite office management skills, Mary has impressive credentials in community outreach, grant writing and project management. Furthermore, she’s a joy to work with and a truly compassionate phone contact. When you need to contact OMA, you’ll be glad Mary is the one who answers the phone.
I told you in our Christmas letter that our 2018 plans center around expanding our presence into other parts of Oregon. Our primary vehicle for this effort is the FCEF end of life planning seminar All’s Well That Ends Well. The author of that material, past OMA president RCA Moore, wanted to rewrite the workbooks before taking them on the road. Unfortunately, a bout of flu with bronchitis had him low for almost three months this winter. But the job is now complete, the workbooks ready for printing and we’re lining up venues in Salem and Eugene for starters.
This spring our most senior board member, Jeanne Staehli, decided the time had come for her to step down. Jeanne almost single-handedly resurrected a moribund OMA when she stepped into the presidency, recruited a new board and breathed new life into the organization. Her wisdom, compassion and knowledge are missed.
Going forward, we now need more willing volunteers on the board for us to realize our vision of what the Oregon Memorial Association can become. To that end, Elizabeth Jessop and her nominating committee have recruited a stellar set of applicants. We are anxious to get going with next year’s slate of trustees.