Finances will play a key role in the forthcoming Soroptimist International Board Meeting, to be held in Cambridge, home of the SI Headquarters. SI will be drawing on the expertise of the Finance Committee and with this in mind, we take ‘Five Minutes’ to get to know a little about the team.
HQ : What is your volunteer role for SI and what does it involve?
Karen Ford: I am SISWP Federation’s representative on
the Soroptimist International Finance Committee. This involves working
with and assisting the SI Finance Chair with her duties, for example, recommending
changes that affect any area of Finance, reviewing Financial Statements and
Budgets, adding our recommendations.
Judith Lewis: I
serve as a member of the SI Finance Committee. This committee scrutinizes the
finance papers, accounts and budgets, terms of reference, discussing matters by both e-mail and virtually, through
‘go-to meeting’. Our role is to question
and ask for clarification before the papers are finalised and sent to Board
Verena von Tresckow-Bronke
: I am a member of the Finance Committee and Chair of Finance Committee, commencing September 11, 2016. The role includes support in SI financial matters to ensure that the figures and strategic decisions are considered in unison.
RoseMary Reid: In addition to being a member of the SI Board Directors, I’m also serving as Chair of the SI Finance Committee.
HQ: Please would you tell us a little about your background, and the skills you
bring to your role with SI?
Karen: I have held officer positions at Club,
Region and Federation Level, becoming a member in 2002. I have been my Club’s Region Delegate representing
them at Region level. I have held many years in the position of Treasurer
at Club, Region and Federation Level, and I am currently the SISWP
Federation Finance Convenor. I am a current Director and Company
Secretary of the Federation SISWP. This background of being a Treasurer
and Finance Convenor helps with knowledge, understanding and accounting skills
to be able to represent SISWP on the SI Finance Committee working together to
bring all Federations views through to SI on financial matters. I work full time for a Furniture
Manufacturer based in Sydney Australia responsible for all financial aspects of
the business, office management and job management.
I am very blessed to have two
lovely daughters, Julie and Jodie, and the newest member of the family is
Sasha, a very excitable puppy (Hungarian Vizsla). Sasha is my walking
partner and helps me stay fit.
Image: Sasha, the puppy (Hungarian Vizsla)
Judith: I am a retired chartered accountant. I
trained as an articled clerk with Mann Judd Gordon, Glasgow, and was admitted
as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland in 1973.
During my working life I have used the knowledge and skills of my profession to
help manage the finances of diverse organisations, from a family hotel to a multi-million-pound
utility, then joining the charity sector.
Verena: My background is that of an Auditor and tax consultant, working in the 8th largest accounting/tax and audit network of the world as board member, taking an international approach to decisions under the guidelines of special jurisdictions.
RoseMary: I have extensive Soroptimist experience which includes Club President, Region Governor, Region Committee Chair and Chair of the Local Convention Committee for the SI Convention in Montreal. I served as Federation Board member 2003-2005 and was SIA Finance Chair for 2003-2004. I was re-elected to the Board in 2013 and served as SIA Secretary/Treasurer for 2015-2016. I will be assuming my role of SIA President on 1 September, 2016. I have a Certified Municipal Manager designation from the Ontario Municipal Management Institute and have Human Resources Management & Business Administration certificates from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. As a Municipal Manager for more than 25 years, I was responsible for developing and implementing strategic plans, business continuity plans and corporate policies and procedures. I have extensive experience in the development and administration of a multi-million dollar budget for my division.
HQ: How long have you been a Soroptimist and how did you become involved?
Karen: A friend and Soroptimist persuaded
me to join her Club (SI Brisbane Inc, South Queensland, Australia) in February
2002. I really knew nothing about the organisation but was mentored by a
few very involved Soroptimists. When I moved to Sydney I
transferred to SI Sydney Inc, New South Wales, Australia and am glad I continued
to be a Soroptimist.
Judith: I have been a Soroptimist for just over
forty years, before my children were born, so yes I was a very young
Soroptimist. I was invited to join our local club SI
Abergavenny when my aunt and
godmother, who was a Soroptimist in a different club, encouraged me to do so. I transferred to SI Llantrisant in 1994 when I moved to work in
Cardiff. Regrettably SI Llantrisant closed so I then transferred to SI Barry,
where I am still a member.
Verena: I am been a member of Soroptimist International now for 15 years and was initially recommended by a friend.
RoseMary: I have been a Soroptimist for more than 25 years, having got involved when I was asked by a co-worker to join the Venture Club of Peterborough. Venture was sponsored by Soroptimist and was for young women under 40. When the Venture club folded I joined Soroptimist International of Peterborough, Ontario. I joined because of the work being done at the local level but liked the fact that Soroptimist was a global volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lives of women around the world.
Image: Judith with members of her club
HQ: What do you enjoy most? Do you have any interesting or surprising stories for
us regarding your role or your Soroptimist experience?
Karen: Meeting women from all backgrounds with the same interests of helping other
women and girls around the world to try to make a difference
collectively. I have worked hard but have also had many fun times.
Judith: I very much value the friendships I have made
over the years and I have learnt so much about diverse topics and enjoyed so
many experiences. As I joined at a young
age, I believe that my roles as a Soroptimist Regional Treasurer, Regional
President, Club President and the experience I have gained at Federation level,
has helped give me the confidence to progress in my career and to confidently
present at all levels. The year I was Regional President my mother was Club
President, I have heard of the other way around, not sure if anyone else had
Verena: I enjoy the International approach, meeting ladies from all over the world; if we accept our differences, our world-wide backgrounds and the professional thinking of each other, we are strong.
RoseMary: I love the fact that Soroptimist is a global organization working to help marginalized women and girls. I enjoy having the opportunity to meet women from around the world. Hearing the stories from the women who have benefited from our programs is empowering and inspirational. As a member of the Federation Board I have travelled to many regions and have witnessed the impact we (Soroptimists) are making in the lives of women and girls.
HQ: What are your goals and what do you hope to achieve during your time with SI?
Karen: I look forward to learning more about how SI works, its governance documents and meeting
face-to-face the members of the SI Finance Committee, putting a face to the
name and to the ‘go-to-meeting’ (virtual call) voices.
Judith: It is essential that members understand
the financial position and as such, regular crystal-clear reporting should be
part of the Finance Committee remit. I hope that I will be able assist with
Verena: To continue to improve the financial structure of SI, with clear decision making processes. Participating in strengthening the professional character of SI to keep the
number of members stable, or to enable the number of members to increase.
RoseMary: My goal as SIA President is to work to increase our membership base. We are a membership based organization and members are needed to fulfil our mission. By increasing members at the Federation level we are increasing our financial resources at both the Federation and SI level. In order to increase our collective impact of helping more women and girls we need to increase our human and financial resources. My goal is to encourage, engage and empower members to be more involved in growing our organization so it will continue to be a vibrant and healthy organization in the next century.
HQ: Do you have a message to others who might be thinking about applying for a
volunteer role at SI?
Karen: Go for it, get involved, you will not be disappointed. Yes, you have to
put in time but I think it is worth it.
Judith: It is the old adage – You get out of life
what you put in! I would encourage everyone to get involved and to use your
skills and experiences to help improve the lives of women and girls. Personally
I have benefited enormously from giving my time to our amazing organisation.
Verena: Do It!
HQ: What is the hardest thing about your role – and the most fun? How does your
role at SI differ from those you have undertaken for your Federation?
Karen: The hardest thing over the years
for me is the art of communication throughout the Soroptimist
world. So many words have different meanings and with this electronic
world that instantly delivers your words to so many, you have to learn to
choose your words very carefully. Trying at all times to ensure everything stated is correct and remain diplomatic. With so much non-face time work that we do as Soroptimists,
it is always great at Club and Region level when you can meet face to
The best time or the most fun is at Executive Meetings over
dinner. You get the opportunity to get to know wonderful smart
woman. The most rewarding is when we work on Club Projects or Club
Fundraisers as we do have fun but it is so rewarding to know we are going to
help women and girls. My role as SISWP Representative on
the SI Finance Committee means that I am the SISWP Finance Convenor and SISWP
Director (one of 12) that governs our SISWP Company limited by guarantee.
I am also SISWP Company Secretary and SISWP Public Officer. At Region
level I am currently the Region President of SI Region of New South Wales,
Australia. At Club Level I am obviously a current member of SI Sydney
Inc, Australia, the oldest Club in our Federation that is turning 79 years this
year. I am currently Immediate Past President of my Club. Previous positions held are those of Club Treasurer of both SI Brisbane Inc and SI
Sydney Inc, Region Treasurer of SI Region of NSW Inc and Past Federation
Treasurer for SISWP. These roles and responsibilities are huge and
take the most time compared to the SI role. But they also make it easier
in some ways and also reassuring that you are on the right track when
discussing items on the SI Finance Committee.
Judith: The role for SI is not arduous but you do feel a level of responsibility
as you provide support and advice to the Treasurer and the Executive Director. I am looking forward to being part of the
SIGBI delegation at the September Board
meeting and getting together with the other members of the Finance Committee.The SI role is quite different to my role as SIGBI Director of Finance as that is very much hands on and detailed, not just providing support.
Verena: The most fun is to have ladies around the world on the phone/Skype without any problems or delays. The hardest is to be available for Skype calls at different times during the day and the work is very different to that of the Federation: the manuals are very detailed.
RoseMary: The hardest thing about the role is not having the opportunity for face-to-face meetings with the committee members. All of our work is either done by email or e-virtual meetings. I look forward to meeting with members of the Finance Committee at the SI board meeting in Cambridge in September.
The most fun aspect of Soroptimist is the opportunity to meet and get to know women from all over the world.
As a Federation Board member, there is an opportunity for dialogue and discussion on issues before a decision is made. During this past year, SI has issued a number of mail ballots with background papers. There were occasions when the ballot had to be re-issued as more information or clarification was required before a vote could be undertaken. I feel it is important to have a dialogue and discussion before decisions are made.
With the Federations being the members of SI, it is challenging for board members to be kept informed on SI issues as some communications go directly to the Authorized Representatives and this is not shared with the federation members due to confidentiality. We don’t have this layer or structure at the Federation level.