February 1993 Home   Newsletters

March 1993

April 1993

Presidents Message [Crossroads] (Arlene Ellis)
What is Crossroads?
League Testifies on Economic Conversion
Foreign Policy Discussion Group to be Formed
Dilemma of Long-Term Care: Can We Afford to Ignore It? (Jennifer A. Baratz)
Proposed Budget FY 1993-1994
Urgent! Help Needed for Vote Count
We the People...

What is Crossroads?

At the 1974 national convention, delegates discussed the results of the first major self-study undertaken to help modernize the League and articulate a dynamic vision for the future. In that year, League membership stood at 144,838, down from the all time high of 156,780 in 1969. There were 1,340 local and provisional Leagues, and the average size of a League was 112 members.

Since 1974, there have been five more self-assessments. Today we have 96,884 members and 1,058 local Leagues. Forty-one per cent of these Leagues have 50 or fewer members.

Our efforts to streamline and to modernize have had only limited success. We select fewer issues for study and action-yet League leaders find it increasingly difficult to manage the League workload. Members are particularly disturbed by the substantial decline in attendance at meetings, calling into question the validity of our treasured consensus process. We promote flexibility and simplification-yet League leaders are swamped with the demands of board work, program planning, and finance and membership drives.


It is clear that the League is facing very serious challenges. Members everywhere are concerned about the continued drop in membership, the time-consuming nature of League leadership, and the League's diminished presence in far too many communities across the country. These concerns have resulted in the Crossroads Project.

State League leaders attending the 1991 national Council meeting proposed a new effort to develop innovative procedures and programs that would enable the League to flourish. In the year that followed, state and local League leaders participated in a series of regional meetings that resulted in an affirmation of the basic elements of the League: a three-level (local-state-national) structure under grassroots control; a multi-issue program; and an agenda of advocacy, education, and voter service.

Delegates to the 1992 national convention agreed that continued discussion about future directions for the League was needed. They approved a grassroots process that would give every member and every League an opportunity to help determine the future of our organization. Issues targeted for attention were: ensuring that each level of the organization is focusing its energies and resources most effectively; making League leadership more manageable; and enabling the League to attract the members and funds it needs to carry out its mission.

The project is guided by an eleven-member steering committee formed by state League leaders involved in the 1991-92 phase of Crossroads. It includes five local League representatives, five state League representatives, and one national board member. Funding is being provided by all three levels of the organization: contributions from state and local Leagues and from interested individuals are being matched two-for-one by the national board, up to a maximum of $10,000.

A National Brainstorming

In this next phase of Crossroads, League members across the country will assess the challenges facing the League today and look for new ways to address those challenges. Using surveys and discussion materials prepared by the steering committee, members will look at what the League is doing, how we are doing it, and whether there isn't a better way. The goal at this point is not to reach consensus but rather to spark some creative approaches and promising directions. These ideas will then be gathered together and refined for a second round of discussion in 1993-94.

State and national League leaders attending the national Council meeting in June will have a chance to discuss the results of the winter 1993 discussion meetings and give input and direction to the steering committee for its second year of work. An interim report will also be sent to every League in a post-Council mailing. The committee will then develop additional discussion materials to help League members refine project recommendations for eventual consideration at Convention '94.

Crossroads Project Steering Committee

Local League Representatives
Alberta EidmanLWV Baltimore County, MD410/252-2335
Virginia Eldridge LWV Santa Fe, NM505/471-0006
Fran LeberLWV Jackson, MS601/956-2507
Joyce MorgenthalerLWV Middletown, RI401/846-8635
Shelley ParosLWV Oakland County, MI313/661-9047

State League Representatives
Elaine BlodgettPresident, LWV Missouri314/441-3115
Diane EdmundsonPresident, LWV Pennsylvania215/642-7922
Eleanor Revelle President, LWV Illinois708/328-5330
Alice Stolz Vice President, LWV Washington509/455-8944
Jane Walker Vice President, LWV Florida904/332-1784

National Board Representative
Marilyn Brill LWVUS Board of Directors717/275-5537

Resource Coordinator
Robyn Prud'homme-Bauer President, LWV California415-485-9755

Reading Committee
Laura Ladd Bierman LWV Albany County, NY518-439-7397
Betty Newcomb LWV Baltimore City, MD410-945-6720
Cathy Wagner LWV Ozaukee County, WI414-375-3595

Dear League Member,

The League of Women Voters has embarked on a grassroots project to identify possible changes in program and procedures that could enhance the League's effectiveness. This Crossroads Project is being guided by an eleven-member steering committee representing all three levels of League. We hope every member will help determine the future of our organization by completing the survey below.


I. Please circle the number that best reflects your opinion of, and experience with, the League. [1 = agree strongly; 2 = agree somewhat; 3 = disagree slightly; 4 = disagree strongly]

A) Satisfaction

1 2 3 4 I'm pleased with what I have been able to accomplish through the League.

1 2 3 4 I have gained valuable new skills through my League work.

1 2 3 4 The League has not taken advantage of the time and talents I have to offer.

1 2 3 4 The League makes it easy to participate at a level that fits my schedule.

1 2 3 4 League meetings/activities are often not of interest to me.

1 2 3 4 I'm satisfied with my level of participation in League activities.

B) Membership Issues

1 2 3 4 It was easy for me to find and join the League.

1 2 3 4 The program offered by my League is appealing to potential members.

1 2 3 4 The League should do what is necessary to attract new members of all kinds.

1 2 3 4 The League should develop additional types of membership options.

1 2 3 4 We should emphasize the role of the League as a training ground for women.

1 2 3 4 The League would attract more members if it were more action-oriented.

C) League Program

1 2 3 4 A strong national program is essential to my League's credibility.

1 2 3 4 The League should work on fewer program issues at a time.

1 2 3 4 The League can be more effective on local issues than on state/national issues.

1 2 3 4 The League should emphasize its unique role as a -local citizens organization.

1 2 3 4 The League should take strong stands even though that may be controversial.

1 2 3 4 I would like to see greater use of new methods of developing League positions.

1 2 3 4 Being effective is more important than doing things "the League way."

1 2 3 4 The League should do more to involve non-members in promoting its mission.

11. Using a scale from I to 4, indicate how well the following statements reflect your opinion of the League at each level. (There should be a number in each box in the grid below.) [ 1 = agree strongly; 2 = agree somewhat; 3 = disagree slightly; 4 = disagree strongly]

1. I'm pleased with the quality of League material on program issues.   
2. My League work enables me to have an impact on public policy.   
3. The League should put more emphasis on promoting good govt.   
4. The League should put more emphasis on educating the public.   
5. The League should put more emphasis on action.    
6. I am very interested in governmental issues.   
7. I am well informed about the League's program priorities.   
8. I often contact my elected officials about League program issues.   
9. The League offers interesting opportunities to become involved.   
10. I trust each level of League to do what is best for the organization.   
11. The League provides good training opportunities for its members.   
12. I believe the League makes an important difference.   

III. More people would join the League if:


IV. Please tell us

Age: 18-34 / 35-44 / 45-54 / 55-64 / 65+

Years in League: under two / 3-7 / 8-12 / 13-17 / 18+

Ethnicity: white / African Am. / Hispanic / Asian / other

Gender: female / male

Paid employment: no, not now / yes, part time / yes, full time

League activity: inactive / under 5 hrs/mo / 5-15 hrs/mo / 16+ hrs/mo

Board member: yes, currently / no, but I was / no, but I hope to / no

Size of League: under 50 / 50-99 / 100-250 / 250+

Type of League: urban / suburban / rural

(Name of League)


League of Women Voters CROSSROADS PROJECT Leadership Survey


I. Your League and your community

League Mission: The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

A) As a community organization, how would you assess your League's success at "encouraging the informed and active participation of citizens in government?"

disappointing / adequate / quite good / excellent



B) As a community organization, how would you assess your League's success at "influencing public policy through education and advocacy?"

disappointing / adequate / quite good / excellent



C) Which of the following, if any, limit your League's accomplishments in your community? [1 = not a factor, 2 = a slight factor; 3 = a big factor; 4 = a very serious factor]

1 2 3 4 League energies are spread over too many issues and activities to be effective.

1 2 3 4 Financial resources are inadequate.

1 2 3 4 Members lack skills for community outreach (PR, marketing, public speaking).

1 2 3 4 League has difficulty developing strategies to influence public policy.

1 2 3 4 Members lack sufficient expertise in public policy issues of the day.

1 2 3 4 Members are not interested in working on community outreach activities.

1 2 3 4 League study and consensus process is too slow for timely action.

1 2 3 4 Traditional activities (debates, public meetings) are not well attended by public.

1 2 3 4 Other organizations sponsor successful candidate forums and public meetings.

1 2 3 4 Members are not available to undertake additional work or projects.

1 2 3 4 Active members are too busy with organizational/administrative tasks.

1 2 3 4 Membership does not reflect diversity of the community.

1 2 3 4 Community needs and wants do not match member interests.

1 2 3 4 Community is confused by nonpartisan League engaging in political activity. 1 2 3 4 Other:

II. Managing Your League

A) In the context of promoting the League's mission, how would you assess the amount of time your League's leaders spend on the following types of tasks? [1 = too little time; 2 = a reasonable amount of time; 3 = too much time]

1 2 3 Administration (board and committee meetings, membership rosters, bylaws)

1 2 3 Activities for members (member meetings, studies, social events, bulletin)

1 2 3 Voter service activities for the community

1 2 3 Program activities for the community (public meetings on issues, action projects)

1 2 3 Influencing public policy (letters, phone calls, visits to elected officials, op ed pieces)

1 2 3 Activities to increase financial resources (finance drive, fundraisers)

1 2 3 Activities to increase membership (membership drives, PR)

1 2 3 Activities to develop League leaders (workshops, training programs)

1 2 3 Activities for state/national levels (program planning, calls to action, conventions)

B) Which of the following could enhance your League's ability to fulfill its mission?

[ 1 = not at all promising; 2 = somewhat promising; 3 = promising; 4 = very promising]

1 2 3 4 Focus League resources on program work at the local level.

1 2 3 4 Focus League resources on program work at state and national levels.

1 2 3 4 Emphasize voter service/citizen education over action at the local level.

1 2 3 4 Emphasize action over voter service/citizen education at the local level.

1 2 3 4 Provide training and develop how-to guides for local League action projects.

1 2 3 4 Further limit the number of Issues for Emphasis at national, state, and local levels.

1 2 3 4 Foster networks of Leagues interested in working on non-priority issues.

1 2 3 4 Incorporate more flexible member agreement processes in all League studies.

1 2 3 4 Promote political training and skill building for women through the League.

1 2 3 4 Emphasize promoting citizen participation over advocacy on selected issues.

1 2 3 4 Market and seek payment for League expertise (moderating, conflict resolution).

1 2 3 4 Organize League meetings for target populations (work-based, age-based).

1 2 3 4 Handle administration at regional level, education and advocacy at community level.

1 2 3 4 Other.

III. On another piece of paper, please describe any innovative programs or procedures that have helped your League adapt to changing times.

IV. How big is your League? 1-49 members / 50-99 / 100-199 / 200-299 / 300-499 / 500+

# of members on your board / % of membership in leadership positions

Are you / a local League board / an ILO board /a state League board / other

(Name of League)


(League File #)

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