The State Presidents of National Organization for Women received an email last Sunday evening, August 16th from Toni VanPelt informing us that she had decided to step down from her position as NOW’s national president and retire. Her resignation will take effect on August 21th. Our national executive vice-president, Christian Nunes, will become President at that time.
While the State Presidents were not given any more details, we all assume that this was worked out with the advice and consent of the NOW National Board of Directors. A new national executive vice-president has either already been chosen or will be officially named soon.
NOW has unfortunately been making the news lately in ways we’d prefer not to. Charges of poor management and governance at our national headquarters along with a toxic work environment and gross insensitivity regarding issues of race have been made by departing staff and by state and local chapter leaders who have resigned their positions and/or given up their memberships. Various media outlets have published stories about these charges.
But looking ahead, we in Maryland are very excited about the opportunity to move ahead toward the November 3rd elections. But we also are firm in our commitment to take the time and freedom to discuss the issues that have been raised internally in NOW, and institute ways to begin to heal from this experience. In much the same way as our national consciousness in the United States has been stained by an unwillingness to address racism in every aspect of our lives throughout our history, NOW has also not done a good job of addressing this issue during our own organization’s past. We plan to do better, and we plan to succeed.
We are very excited about the amazing steps that have been taken by NOW state and chapter leaders across the country over this past year to address these issues and to try to have honest and open discussions about them. Meeting regularly online and working in small groups, amazing progress is already starting to show. By speaking up and saying “No more!” these leadership groups are charting a new direction for our organization. Maryland NOW is proud to be an active part of these efforts.