At the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL) Annual Dinner last May, the 2013-2014 Board announced its theme for the year – “Listen More and Talk Less.” Our goal was to celebrate our 85th year by asking our diverse membership what each of you value most about GAWL and how Georgia’s premiere organization for woman lawyers can continue to enhance your welfare and development and to support your interests. In September, GAWL hosted a Conversation with GAWL (akin to a Town Hall meeting) where members candidly and openly shared with the GAWL Board their vision our organization for the next 85 years. Suggestions included increased communication and visibility about GAWL events, more substantive programming – including a study or discussion involving equal pay – and transparency related to Board voting procedures.

Your GAWL Board listened and worked hard this year to implement your suggestions. Our Communications Committee took a multi-platform approach, sharing information about GAWL events via the quarterly newsletter, routine blog posts, and increased social media presence across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the GAWL ListServ. Our Leadership Committee re launched our popular Leadership Academy, which drew a larger applicant pool and introduced new aspects to the program, including opportunities to meet with leaders in the Georgia Legislature. Additionally, we had one of our best turnouts for The Leader Within program, despite the threat and impact of the January snowstorm. GAWL’s Membership Committee introduced a renewal campaign that to date has increased our membership by approximately 25% over the past year. The Mentoring Committee placed new members in Mentoring Circles, continued to provide programing ideas to our ever-popular NNBs and launched four new affinity groups: Large Law Firm, Newer Lawyers, Working Moms, and Girls in Sports and Entertainment (GISE). This month, the Programs and Public Affairs Committees hosted an Equal Pay Program – a practical training event aimed to help women lawyers negotiate for salaries commensurate to their efforts by coaching members how to advocate for themselves in a variety of professional settings. Strategic Partnerships continued to forge strong relationships with GAWL’s valued sponsors.  Special Events hosted the Judicial Reception in October, organized the Atlanta Holiday Party in December, and has planned a signature celebration event for our Annual Dinner in May.

In addition, the GAWL Board called upon the Bylaws Committee to fully review the organization’s governing documents, including our policies and procedures. This committee recommended changes to our voting procedures to align the Association with other similarly situated organizations. Further, committee activity included updates to the provision of proxies and the treatment of abstention votes. Notably, the Committee drafted a non-discrimination policy to be presented to the incoming GAWL Board. The Committee will be continuing its hard work during the next Board year.

I almost cannot believe that a year has passed since the GAWL Board took its oath of office and pledged to listen to your visions on how we can improve this great organization! We promised then that we would work diligently to act on your advice. During our tenure, you shared a number of great thoughts with us, and your 2013-2014 Board did its best to incorporate as many of your ideas as we could into our vision for the year and into our roadmap for GAWL’s next 85 years.