|Information is now available on the NARFE website (www.narfe.org) concerning the next NARFE National Convention in Orlando, Florida, August 24 - 28, 2014. With our continuing decline in membership and the release of the Future of NARFE Committee recommendations, this could be the most important National Convention since the late 1960s when NARFE was restructured “to bring about greater legislative and political clout” (NARFE: Celebrating 90 Years of Service, page14). Please support your Delegates volunteering their time and, in many cases, their own resources to attend the National Convention on your behalf. Once again, the Federation Executive Board has approved a $200 stipend for each Chapter that sends a Delegate (but not an elected Federation Officer) to the National Convention. More information about the National Convention is included in the Vice President’s Report, which follows. Also, her report contains news about the upcoming 2014 Arizona Federation Biennial Workshop, September 26 - 27 (similar to the “off-year” Training Meeting held in May of 2012).
What a great Region VII Conference the Tucson Chapter hosted last September! Well, mark your calendars for the next one. The 2015 Region VII Biennial Conference is expected to be held in Denver, Colorado, September 24 - 26, 2015. More information will be available at the Region VII caucus during the upcoming National Convention.
In the last edition of the Federation newsletter, I gave a brief update on the progress of the Future of NARFE (FON) Committee. The FON Committee reconvened a second face-to-face meeting at the NARFE National Office during the week of January 20. With the goal of developing a vision of NARFE for the next 10, 20, or 30 years, and reflecting the inevitability of eNARFE (i.e., NARFE members who do not belong to a traditional zip code-based chapter, now with over 21,000 members) as a major factor in the future success of NARFE, the FON Committee came to an agreement on a series of recommendations that, if adopted, should revitalize NARFE and keep it open and flourishing well into the future.
After the successful “off-year” training meeting last year, the Board voted to hold a second “2014 Biennial Workshop ” meeting next spring (2014). A Committee of Etta Bryant, Jane Pall, and Linda Connelly (others are invited to join them) will be responsible for planning the agenda and determining the time and place of the meeting.
The plan is extremely ambitious, recommends a myriad of changes, and includes at least one major new initiative. An outline of the recommendations was presented verbally to the National Resident Officers and key HQ staff on January 25th. The National Executive Board will be briefed at its next meeting at the end of February. Details will be available some time after that meeting, and are expected to be presented to all NARFE members in the April magazine. The recommendations are expected to lead to a leaner, more focused, and more vibrant organization, capable of attaining our mission of protecting and enhancing our earned employment and retirement benefits.
Time is running short. NARFE needs to change the way it does business at almost every level. Continuing to operate the way we now operate, according to NARFE President Joe Beaudoin, “ ... is not sustainable.” We all know that NARFE has continued to lose membership since its peak in 1982. Since that time, we have lost nearly half of our membership. A frank self-assessment and a look at how other thriving organizations have adapted to change is well-overdue.
Is our organization really at such risk? We must be prepared to honestly assess and consider new organizational structures, new methods of governance (i.e., voting), new forms of membership, and new funding sources. We may need to refocus on our “niche” (Federal civilian retirement benefits), or expand our mission. And we may need to winnow our efforts to focus on achieving our mission through advocacy. No other organization has a similar mission
When the complete FON Committee recommendations are released, it will be up to each NARFE member to thoughtfully consider each one and determine which ones are best for the future of NARFE. Some NARFE members want no change; they like NARFE as it is. To the naysayers, I would ask, “How low does NARFE membership have to go before you are willing to accept major changes in order to save NARFE?” I urge you to think of the best interests of the organization as you ponder and debate the FON Committee recommendations. Your support will be vital to its future success.
UPDATED: March 2, 2014