The bylaws of Maryland NOW have not been revised for quite some time. Compared with the early 1970s we live in a very different world. Not only has technology changed much of what we do, but it has also resulted in the need to shift various officer responsibilities among members of the Executive Committee. For example, the old bylaws make no mention of social media or our website, and those things are now a major part of what we do. The way we work with endorsed legislation has changed with our close work as a coalition partner of the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW). We use more email to communicate with our members today, but it’s unclear whether we are actually connecting with members as we inform them of events and news of importance to NOW.
The bylaws as they are now written are posted on Maryland NOW’s website and can be accessed here:
A bylaws committee is planned for the 2021-2022 Program Year to work on these needed changes, but meanwhile what is written below attempts to outline the positions as they have evolved over time and as officers are performing these jobs today.
The Duties of Maryland NOW Officers
President – The president of Maryland NOW is the organization’s primary spokesperson, serves as our liaison with other entities within NOW’s national structure, i.e., the State President’s Caucus. The president also represents Maryland NOW to other organizations and coalitions in the state. The president develops the agenda and presides at State Council meetings, appoints with the approval of the council Task Force and Committee chairs, develops with the task forces, committees, and council most state functions and actions. One of the committees established must be a Budget Committee. The state president is presently the Chair of the Maryland NOW PAC.
Executive Vice President – coordinates the administrative functions of Maryland NOW, which presently also includes communications (website, social media, and mail to members), membership, and publicity for the organization. This officer also serves as liaison to the state’s committees. This office presides at state meetings in the absence of the president, and assumes the position of President in event of a vacancy in that position. The officer assists the President with any work delegated to them. This officer is currently the Treasurer of the Maryland NOW PAC.
Action Vice President – coordinates statewide action programs including state and national legislative initiatives and writing testimony for legislation during the legislative session. This officer organizes our lobbying efforts in Annapolis, including any Lobby Days done with coalition partners or just with Maryland NOW members. Maryland NOW’s presence at action events here in Maryland and at national gatherings in Washington, DC is important and helps us with visibility to prospective members. This person serves as a liaison with the chapters and state task forces.
Secretary – maintains a record of minutes at any state meeting and makes them available to the state’s leadership. This person assists the president at state meetings, in the preparation of correspondence, and in maintaining a list of the state chapter leaders and council members, maintaining contacts and email lists. This person should also assist with writing letters (legislative, condolence, invitations) to Members of Congress and Maryland’s General Assembly. This position could be expanded to include communication on social media. With several exceptions, it has not been filled on a regular basis for most of the last 10 years.
Treasurer – manages the financial records of Maryland NOW and makes regular reports to the council, receives all income, and deposits these funds into the appropriate state accounts. The treasurer must make sure all accounts are, if necessary, changed over to the names of current officers and that the required online access to Maryland NOW accounts is established to create the transparency necessary. This officer disperses any funds in accordance with the state’s budget, coordinates the filing of our IRS 990 Tax Form, and makes a full financial accounting to the council, including account statements, each year immediately prior to the State Conference. This officer works with the Executive Committee and the Budget Committee to develop a state budget that must be approved by the council prior to Dec 31 or Maryland NOW’s fiscal year.
It is the practice of Maryland NOW’s Executive Committee to shift any designated responsibilities among themselves, based on each officers’ skills and expertise, as well as time availability. The PAC officers can also be shifted for any reason, including an individual’s need to satisfy compliance with the Hatch Act.
One issue that has been a problem in past years and continues is that many of our coalition partners, and even entities within NOW have leadership for whom this work is a full-time paid position. We do not currently pay our officers a salary and these women and men are frequently balancing family responsibilities, NOW responsibilities, and job responsibilities. Meetings with these groups often occur during a business day and can span time zones. Representing NOW at these meetings and events may be one of the responsibilities that the officers must juggle amongst themselves.
Maryland NOW produced newsletters that were sent – at least quarterly – to our entire membership, and membership renewals and overall retention wasn’t much of a problem. Now contributors and members need more attention from us and none of that is a part of any specific officer’s duties.
If you would like to consider serving on Maryland NOW’s Executive Committee, or in a role with one of our Task Forces or Administrative Committees please contact our Nominations Chair (email) or one of the officers currently serving in the role.