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GFWC enjoys successful international convention

Another General Federation of Women’s Club International Convention has been written and filed for the GFWC Women’s Historic and Resource Center.

The convention came to a close with a beautiful installation ceremony for the 2022-2024 officers: GFWC International President Deb Strahanoski, President-elect Suellen Brazil, First Vice President Wendy Carriker, Second Vice President Jolie Frankfurth, Secretary Mary Beth Williams, Treasurer Becky Wright and Director of Junior Clubs Katie Moydell.

Many clubwomen from Alabama attended the convention in support of Suellen Brazil, GFWC president-elect who is also former president of GFWC Alabama Federation of Women’s Club.

Suellen Brazil is the epitome of a volunteer club woman, as she has served decades in leadership positions for GFWC, starting as an AFWC Junior Club state president. She will be installed as GFWC international president for 2024-2026.

I am so humbled to call her my friend, as she got me involved in the GFWC Alabama Board of Directors as a Junior Clubwoman.

During the week-long convention, many banquets, workshops, speakers, business sessions, historic tours and good times were enjoyed by hundreds of club women from not only the USA but also other countries.

Betsy Barnes, press secretary and director of public affairs for the Office of Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, welcomed everyone to The Big Easy. She commended the GFWC clubwomen for all of the amazing work they do for their communities.

She noted many challenges New Orleans has faced in the past decade and stated, “Women are responsible for recovering from everything.”

The convention included affiliate organizations, such as Shot@Life, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Operation Smile, UNICEF USA, Heifer International, Canine Companions and Hope for Justice. Each affiliate presented their organization’s focus area and how members could get involved with making a difference.

The following keynote speakers addressed various events at the convention.    

Aimee Everrett, curator of the Williams Research Center with the Historic New Orleans Collection, shared notable stories about influential women in New Orleans’ history.

Carol Reese, a columnist for several gardening and nature publications, presented a humorous but informative talk on “Sex in the Garden,” focusing on the life in our gardens. She is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with the University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center.

Seconde Nimenya’s, award-winning author and diversity and inclusion consultant, shared a talk focused on making the world a better place for everyone. She addressed the best practices that support institutional leaders and individuals in their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and a member of the National Task Force to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, shared her moving story as a survivor of abuse.

She presented numerous testimonials from teenagers and what they wish their parents would say and do. The warning signs of abuse and resources available to victims were given.

New York Times best-selling author Karen White inspired many as she referred to herself as an “unintentional author.” Many of her books highlight history, mystery, strong women and romance.  She shared the quote “Life doesn’t get easier; we just get stronger.”

Banquets featured lively bands playing Mardis Gras music; club women dressed in gorgeous gowns, wearing ornate masks; beautiful decorations with purple, green and gold lights in the ballroom; and delicious meals.

The business sessions included approval of proposed amendments to the GFWC Bylaws; changes to the GFWC Resolutions; and award presentations.

GFWC clubwomen were noted for raising $60,000-$70,000 for their humanitarian efforts for the GFWC Ukraine club. GFWC clubwomen from six states were recognized for their generosity in raising $25,000 for the Run for the Roses campaign. To support the USO Care Package Program, more than 500 care packages were assembled for USO.

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