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President's Message
By Cheri Fleming, 2013-2014 SIA President

It’s hard to believe how fast time flies when you’re accomplishing great work and having so much fun doing it! Our November and February/March 2013-2014 SIA Board of Directors meetings are behind us, and I can assure all of our members that we have an amazing, forward-thinking federation Board.  We work together collaboratively on the business of Soroptimist—creating and enabling the direction of our organization to be realized.

2013-2014 Board of Directors
The 2013-2014 SIA Board of Directors during the recognition/installation banquet in Philadelphia.

Together we have realized that SIA’s foremost strategic challenges are that our global collective impact is not well known or understood, that our membership continues to decline, and that our clubs and regions continue to give to other causes. If we are to successfully solve these concerns and ensure our legacy, we must find additional ways to engage more people in our mission, spread the word about the measurable and sustainable difference we make in the lives of women and girls, and expand our revenue streams.

In reality, despite all of our best efforts and hard work, SIA has lost more than 7,000 members in the past 10 years. However, Soroptimist is not alone in this decline.  The overall trend for membership-based organizations shows that membership is declining, yet we all want Soroptimist to live on to carry out its mission. In order to ensure our legacy we have some important decisions before us.

As a member of a global organization, I know you joined your club and signed up for Live Your Dream to be part of something beyond your local community. That something is to improve the lives of women and girls globally, across the 19 countries and territories we serve. By now you know that we call that “Increased Collective Impact”—the direction we’re moving in as an organization through our programs, creating greater recognition, leading to greater resources to achieve our vision of a world where women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams.

I am truly enjoying the challenge and leadership opportunity of serving as your SIA president. The entire federation Board and I are in the midst of attending region spring conferences. We have a very important message that we will be delivering.  This will once again be the time when we celebrate the wonderful successes of our clubs and regions as a result of the incredible leadership of our region governors. They have embraced the concept of increasing our collective impact to help shape our Soroptimist future together.

Sam and Cheri
Fundraising Council Chair Sam Buchenau pins President Cheri, welcoming her to the Inner Circle of the Laurel Society.

I’d like to share one of the significant Soroptimist moments I recently experienced. Our Fundraising Council Chair Sam Buchenau and SIA Director Karen Haughey served together with me as governors in 2008-2010, and we have a holiday tradition of meeting for lunch and sharing Soroptimist ideas and stories. This year’s meeting was extremely memorable for me. Inside a gift bag on my plate was a letter from SIA and a small velvet box. I received my Laurel Society Inner Circle pin! I cried tears of joy with my two special Soroptimist leaders and friends. The Inner Circle is a Laurel Society recognition level of $25,000.  Now I must tell you that for me this took years to accomplish. My first Laurel Society contribution came from my local club after I served as their president, and there was also one from my region after I served as their region governor.  And at my installation as your SIA president, my club, region and special friends made contributions to my membership. However, I also contribute a small amount monthly and larger amounts when I can. The real meaning of this story is that contributing to the Laurel Society happens over time in amounts big and small, which equate to a personal giving contribution and directly supports our wonderful programs. I personally feel like I make a difference and change lives!

I’m so proud to be a Soroptimist and I’d like to remind all of you once again that this truly is a great time to be a Soroptimist. Please know that you have a fabulous executive director and a truly amazing staff at SIA headquarters that are a wonderful support system to all of us. Embrace the message of SIA—our vision, mission and core values have been so clearly defined and are so significant. Understand the true difference we make through our global Soroptimist programs, support them, and help ensure our legacy. 

I never imaged how rewarding my personal leadership journey with Soroptimist would be or how many incredible friendships I would make. Help me safeguard that we can properly resource our strategic goals into the future. This will require addressing the challenges that lie ahead, not only for SIA, but for the women and girls who need our help. I know I can count on all of you!

With much gratitude,

Cheri Fleming
2013-2014 SIA President


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