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President’s Report!

Thank you to Convention team and friends
 
Oh my goodness – wasn’t our first, Virtual International Convention wonderful! Under Convention Manager Allison Thompson’s lead, the convention team with its many assistants and volunteers, created a masterpiece!  Thank you soooo much – nothing is impossible when you bring together purpose driven women and give them a task!  Our deepest gratitude goes to all of you who played a part in creating such a successful event.
 
While IC&C 2021 is still an unknown at this time, we will not be concerned!  Creative juices are already flowing and we will all look forward to the event, whatever it will look like! (Don’t you like surprises?!)
 
Updates from Annual 2020
 
While Zoom meetings are not the ideal way to meet for three days in a row, your International Board of Directors collected their snacks and water bottles, found comfy chairs and settled in to deal with the business of the organization.
 
Many of the highlights from the meeting were presented live at the Delegates meeting on the Sunday following our Virtual Convention. But please remember that you can always go to the members’ only section of our web site to read the minutes and financial reports. 
 
I will just highlight a few things here:
 
IC&C 2021
Just a reminder, those who paid the pre-registration (full All Events Pass of $125) for the 2020 convention back in November 2019 have the option of a refund, or rolling it over to 2021 IC&C. (If the 2021 AEP is more than $125, there will not be an additional fee owed; if less than $125, there will be no refund.) Registrants will retain their spot on the list (for preferred seating purposes).

Until we have a better idea of what the details of IC&C 2021 might be (i.e. in person or not, etc.) we will defer setting the AEP price.  The Convention Manager, along with the IBOD, will be discussing options in the New Year.   Please be sure to read your HI Note for updates!
 
Future IC&C venues
2021 (Nov. 3-7) – Hershey Lodge, Hershey, PA
2022 (Nov. 2-6) – Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, NY
2023 – Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids, MI
2024 – Galt House, Louisville, KY
 
Why are we returning to the Galt House in Louisville in 2024 and 2026? As you might imagine, getting out of a contract is a tricky business. By agreeing to return to Louisville, we were able to defer our contract from 2020 with no penalty. Thank you to Allison Thompson for her patience and poise as she worked through all these details and possible solutions. We were also fortunate to have all our Areas negotiate with AC&C venues to prevent financial penalties.
 
Board/ Assistant Vacancies
Elsewhere in this issue of the HI Note, you will find details as to how to apply for Assistant positions that are currently vacant. 
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize our members that are retiring and extend our sincere thanks for all they have done:

  • Mary Ann Wert (Director of Communications) and Katie Taylor (Director of Music Programs) as well as Jeanne O’Connor (Recording Secretary) have completed their time with the International Board.
  • Jen Wheaton Forest has also retired from the Copyright & Licensing Coordinator position and we wish this very busy friend all the best in her next adventure!

 
Of course, with every end is a new beginning! The IBOD is excited to welcome Sara Stone (our incoming Director of Programs (Music and Education), Laura Oakes (incoming Director of Marketing and Communications), and Sarah Thorne-Miller (our new Area 3 Director).
 
While we are thrilled to have six new Assistants added to our team this past year, we still have three vacant positions:

  • Recording Secretary (Jeanne O’Connor is retiring)
  • Copyright & Licensing Coordinator (Jen Wheaton Forest has retired)
  • Business Services Coordinator (new position, former IBOD Director position)

 
Strategic Plan “Harmony. Stronger.”
The Board has continued to work towards some of the goals set out in our Strategic Plan in 2018. One of the goals (or buckets as we called it) was to review our governance structure. As a result, we have created a Governance & Nomination Committee, a Strategic Planning Committee and a Philanthropy Committee. Over the next few months, you will hear more about the work of these committees.
     
Your IBOD has been elected to serve and work to ensure the growth and strength of the organization. This year, we have made a few changes to the titles and overall structure of the IBOD.

  • We have implemented a new Executive position, Executive VP, a position that will work along side the President, assuming some of her responsibilities as well creating an effective mentoring program for new Board members. This person will also be available to attend functions if the President is not available and will be a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. The holder of this position does not automatically become the International President following her term.
  • We have also combined music and education programs and put them in the portfolio of the Director of Programs (Music and Education).
  • A new position on the Board is our Director of Development, a position to help with philanthropic efforts, fund raising and raising awareness of HI with other organizations.

Financial Status
Harmony, Inc. Is financially strong at this time.  Two successful IC&Cs along with careful spending and negotiating of large contracts has contributed to our financial health.

Out of respect for our membership and the struggles that some are having while we deal with the side effects of the pandemic, along with the Board’s commitment to being financially responsible, we wanted to let the membership know we are thinking about them. Renewals 2021 will be invoiced at 25% less than our current annual dues.  We know that this is not a lot, but we are hoping that even this little bit will encourage us all to stay the course and wait this pandemic out. You are important to us. Please be aware that we have not applied this reduction to the purchase of new Life time memberships or Chapter renewal fees.
 
Common Songs
Over the years, our website has had a number of songs available for download, many of which have never been accessed.  These songs are being reviewed and the list is being revised.  While we are removing some songs from the list for a number of reasons, we are excited to be adding songs to the list!  At this time, our new songs include Change the World, It’s the Music that Brings us Together, and very soon you will see In Harmony You Belong and From Now On.  There is still a possibility that a fifth song will be added in the next month or so as well!  
 
MBHA  (Mixed Barbershop Harmony Association)
Our six Areas have all agreed that if there is space and time available in our AC&C schedules, they would welcome both quartets and choruses from the MBHA.  These quartets and choruses will be competing for score only. 
 
Harmony Shoppe!
New to Harmony this year is our virtual store!  Harmony has partnered with Big Bang Products to create a virtual store where we can order logo apparel and other items.  Be sure to check it out regularly!
 
Virtual Chorus grants 
Choruses are being very creative in generating a variety of virtual chorus recordings.  These were very well received at our Virtual International Convention and we would like to encourage chapters to consider this activity!  The IBOD has set aside a number of grants in the amount of $250 to assist Chapters in creating or enrolling in an educational program to learn how to do this.  The grant application process will be available shortly – give us a couple of weeks to put a plan to paper – we’ll be in touch soon!
 
Corporate Manual and Bylaws 
As you might guess, we are knee deep in reviewing our corporate manual and updating it.  Please know that we make every attempt to ensure that decisions we make are in line with our current Bylaws.  We are quickly realizing that our Bylaws need to be updated (since we ask our Chapter to ensure that theirs are updated every five years) but each of these changes will require a membership vote.  You can expect some more communication regarding this over the next few months.
 
Canadian Incorporation Task Force
Over the past six months we have been investigating the benefits of proceeding with incorporating Harmony, Inc. in Canada.  Following consultation with a lawyer, it has been determined that there is no obvious benefit to following through with the action to incorporate.  In the process of asking this question, we have learned that it is in our best interest to apply for the US/CND tax treaty that will address any concerns with money earned in Canada.  It was also suggested that we apply for a payroll account with the Canadian Revenue Association if we are in a position to pay an employee in Canada.  This information is encouraging and we are currently in the process of following through with these details.
 
Nomination Process
Like everything else this year, we have been reviewing our nomination process as well.  The major changes are a result of most things being done electronically these days rather than depending and allowing for the delivery of paperwork by the postal service.

We have changed the nomination submission deadline from January to April 15 and allowed only 15 days to vote (rather than the 30 days previously).  Elections will be held May 1-15 for Area Directors and June 1-15 for Board Directors.  If there is a contested election, interviews will be conducted.
 
Please feel free to ask questions if you have them!  Your IBOD is busy learning and discovering efficient and effective ways to carry out the business of the organization.  We are all volunteers and we don’t come with all the answers … but, we’re willing to look for them! 

Submitted by Linda Brehaut
International President
[email protected]