President’s Message

Blog President Emilie Installation Speech

Dear Quota Members,

One hundred years ago, Wanda Frey Joiner, along with four dedicated female professionals in Buffalo, New York, USA, gave birth to the first service club for women. They named their service club Quota. That one club in one state in one country grew into an international network that today engages women, men, and youth in active community service in 14 countries.

As Quota International celebrates its first 100 years of serving our world, our organization faces a fiscal crisis. As I first reported to you in my Convention 2018 Installation speech, the time has come to put Quota’s financial house in order, and that has been your Board’s most pressing goal since taking office three months ago.

In recent President’s Messages, I have reported to you some steps that your Board Members have taken in order to immediately reduce staff and operating costs and increase support to the organization through the use of volunteer assistance. You know that we have a new Interim Executive Director in place who is working in close partnership with us.  And today, as promised, we have published all Audit Reports for Quota International and the We Share Foundation for these Quota fiscal years:  2015-2016, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018. You can access these reports online, and note that we have a special e-mail address where you can send your individual questions:  financialquestions@quota.org.

As you will see from our financial reports, and what your Board Members have learned occurred financially subsequent to the 2018 Audit Report, Quota International and the We Share Foundation have not been living within its income in recent years. Why did this situation occur?

FIRST, Quota’s expenses increased between May 1, 2014, and September 30, 2018, because of routine cost-of-living increases and increases in the cost of outside services including accountants and Web site and database developers. In addition, Quota conventions in recent years were more expensive than in the past primarily due to the inclusion of additional food events – receptions, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. For example, at the recent 2018 convention in Washington D.C., meals alone cost $170,000. Club advance convention fees and member registrations were insufficient to cover these and other convention costs.

SECOND, Quota’s income decreased each year for two reasons. First, fundraising from Quota members, which had been a major source of revenue in the past (close to $150,000 annually) dropped off to a low in the 2017-2018 fiscal year of $38,600. Second, membership has continued to slowly decline resulting in an $85,000 overall reduction in income from 2013 to 2018. In addition, during this most recent four-year period, monies set aside for other purposes were used for funding operating costs.

THIRD, Although securing outside funding from corporations, foundations, and nonprofits was a goal, only one $10,000 grant was received in the past five years for a project that was not successfully completed and, therefore, is owed back to the donating organization.

FOURTH, Quota staff turnover between 2013 and 2018 occurred at a much higher rate than in previous years therefore requiring continual retraining and education about all things Quota, especially in the area of finances. Multiple bookkeepers/accountants have been used in recent years, and of course, when a company or a staff member is new, they lack knowledge that years of experience brings.

FIFTH, Continual delays in receiving reports needed to fully understand the organization’s financial situation, for whatever reasons, made monitoring Quota’s financial realities difficult.

What is the bottom line of these realities? Quota’s future is precarious at this particular time. Because our membership numbers dropped and donations fundraising dropped off, Quota’s reserves were used over the past four plus years, from May 2014 to September 2018, to make up the shortfall between income and expenses. None of our reserves remain.

What steps are your Board Members taking to turn this financial situation around?

STEP ONE:  First, the Quota International Board of Directors has voted to sell Quota International’s office space, which it owns. Our space is composed of four separate office suites on the main level of a charming “brownstone townhouse” in the Dupont Circle part of Washington, D.C. The building houses a combination of business, retail, and residential condominium suites. Currently, two of Quota’s four suites are rented to other tenants. The purposes of selling all suites are (1) to obtain new capital for paying off Quota debts, (2) to ensure continuation through this fiscal year during this time of change, and (3) to provide a new reserve for the organization going forward. The cost of owning and maintaining Quota’s office space is very expensive and is no longer affordable. There are many fixed costs that must be paid even though the organization is operating with a greatly reduced staff. A real estate appraisal has been done and as soon as the report is received and a sales price is agreed upon for each of the four suites, they will go on the market. I will publish the link to Quota’s listing in a future President’s Message.

Do Board Members possess the right to make the decision to sell Quota’s office space without a vote by Quota’s voting delegates? According to Parliamentary Law, the answer is yes. While Quota Bylaw Article VIII, Section 2b indicates that the Board of Directors does not have the authority to expend or dispose of more than $25,000 on any single capital item without the approval of the Convention body, Quota’s Articles of Incorporation (also known as Quota’s Charter) provide in Article Third, Section E, that the corporation has full authority to”…convey, exchange, lease, mortgage, encumber, transfer upon trust or otherwise dispose of all property, real or personal.” Under Parliamentary Law, Quota’s Charter takes precedence over Quota’s Bylaws when they conflict; therefore, because of the fiscal emergency that has presented itself, your Board of Directors has voted to sell all four Quota office suites.

Where will Quota staff work once all office space is sold? Our slimmed down staff team will move to a small rental office suite in the Washington, D.C. area. We are looking at different options for space and will make a determination closer to the time that our space actually sells.

Why not just move Quota to a different geographical location where rents might be cheaper? First, we anticipate that our rental space will cost significantly less than the combination of costs incurred because of owning our current Quota office space. Second, if Quota moves to a new geographical location, you will lose a major asset at a critical time – Quota’s “Brain Trust” – our small but dedicated and mighty staff.

STEP TWO:  The second step your Board is taking to turn this financial situation around is a second kind of downsizing – of Quota’s Bylaws and Rules of Procedure. Our laws are extremely prescriptive and are expensive and labor intensive to operate. Over the next two years, prior to Convention 2020, the Board of Directors will lead an effort on creating a new suggested set of Quota International Bylaws that will increase the flexibility of clubs, eliminate prescriptive rules that are expensive or even not possible to follow in these fiscally difficult times. Voting delegates will discuss and vote on the proposed Quota International Bylaws at Convention 2020 in Grand Rapids Michigan, and so I encourage every club to begin planning now for your delegate’s participation.

STEP THREE: I am asking you to join me in donating to the Wanda Frey Joiner Development Fund as a show of faith in our future. We now need to build a safety net to ensure a sufficient cash flow to get through this transition period until our office space sells. Once we are successful in selling our space, we will be re-positioned to move forward in a new, simpler, and downsized way. In the coming week we will be sending out an appeal to all members, and I hope you will choose to invest in Quota’s second century of service with your financial gift.

In closing, I will let the facts stand on their own and not make judgments that I cannot attest to. While I understand that it is tempting to want to lay blame on a single individual or group of individuals, I ask that instead you join your Board in moving forward as we create a bright new future for our beloved Quota.

Sincerely,

Emilie Simon

2018-2020 President

 

 

 

President’s Acceptance Speech: Faithful to the Vision Beyond 100 Years

Blog President Emilie Installation Speech

International President Emilie Simon, Quota’s first International President from the Philippines.

Acceptance Speech, Washington, DC – July 2018

Good evening… Past International Presidents, Executive Director Barbara Schreiber, Past and Current Board of Directors, Past District Officers, Past and Current Regional Directors and Team, Past and Current Club Officers, Members, Friends and my dear Family!

I am truly humbled as I stand before you.  My Quota journey was and continues to be a highlight of my life.  I made a lot of friends, visited many countries and amassed fun and lovely memories to last me a lifetime.  Your presence tonight warms my heart and I am deeply grateful for the support, guidance and sisterhood through the years.

Thank you for the trust you have bestowed upon me.  I assure you of my dedication to serve Quota International.

This is also a joyful occasion for my home club, Quota Manila South, Region 18 and the Philippines to have yours truly as the first Filipino International President of Quota.  Thank you for this honor!

My four years on the Board has given me the much-needed groundwork for the position of International President.  I actively participated in the headway of our organization and will use this knowledge to continue moving forward.

The twice a year Board Meetings and numerous times a month Board conference calls have been remarkably valuable in keeping the Board members and the Executive Director in the loop.  My attendance to several Regional Meetings as well as my volunteering to visit 2 regions and clubs at my own expense have brought me closer to the Quotarians.  It has also allowed me to appreciate all the outstanding projects they have achieved as well as to identify their concerns.

About a hundred years ago in 1919, Wanda Frey Joiner founded a service club for women in Buffalo, New York on the unique idea of women “sharing both talent and responsibility.”  Today that single club of 5 women has given birth to more than 500 clubs, in 14 countries.

It has struggled through thick and thin, from when women were disenfranchised in America, in the throes of two world wars and even before the League of Nations or the United Nations were born.  Quota was the first of women’s clubs in the world.

Despite the insurmountable odds, the Quota members managed to do the impossible.

Our phenomenal Quotarians in 14 countries steadfastly continued to make a difference by focusing efforts on improving the lives of the deaf, hard of hearing as well as the disadvantaged women and children in the following areas:  Health and Wellbeing, Educational Development and Workforce Development in various communities.

Seeing the world, the way it was and by little acts of courage and kindness, it has done its part to make the world a better place, to change it into what it could be. Quota International has become a quiet powerhouse for metamorphosis.

Soon to pass is our first hundred years.  In this retrospect, what can we bring into our second century?  What have we learned from so long, from that unique experience that has given worldwide significance to our advocacy?

We have, as is normal in human institutions, shared a lot of stumbles and missteps, of doubts and misgivings.  Rather than merely “sweeping things under the rug”, let us meet our challenges head-on and develop a workable, effective and efficient game plan.

There have been very serious, if constant complaints from every quarter regarding proposed changes that must be made if we are to forge ahead.  Others worry about dwindling memberships and a dearth in new numbers.  The organization is aging and members, as well as clubs, are unable to create multi-generational membership.  The bottom line of our financials is in the red.  Overhead expenses remain constant while income lessens.  Resource is limited to the collection of dues with lessening donations and these have brought us to a stand-still because other means to generate funds stare us in the face.  There is paralysis in analysis and stupor before problem solving resulting in dismay, discouragement and even anger in the ranks.

We must put our house in order.  We must learn to work together with faith and trust in our hearts.  To rediscover working together, we must work together.  When the output is less or equal to the sum of the inputs of the various individuals in the grouping, they are just a mere collection of individuals.  But when the output of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual inputs in the aggrupation, then they are working together.

The reality of the world when we started was near insurmountable for women.  The problems before us today are nothing compared to what Wanda Fray Joiner and her 4 friends faced.

Those words of hers in the ‘40s a few decades from start-up are a shining beacon as we enter a new age:

I quote: “I am grateful for all you have done to make our dream come true.  The basis of happiness is the love of something outside self and rises superior to all conditions.  I know now, as then, we will not fail in our devotion and service.”

We can do it!  We are the original “mission impossible” team.

Official Board Photo 2018 Jan Rhodes WIDE
2018-2020 International Board of Directors Front row left to right: Vice President Luz Marina Gonzalez, (Aruba), Vice President Jan Rhodes (Papakura, Auckland, New Zealand); Back row left to right: Vice President Brenda Cherry (Wooster, Ohio, United States), President Emilie Simon (Manila South, Philippines), President-Elect/Treasurer Carol Patin, MD (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States).

One significant aspect that I would like to improve on is our communication practices.  Communications with the Regional Directors and Club Presidents.  The monthly conference calls have been rather successful and can be enhanced, if 100% will participate.  Other modes of communications are emails and Facebook posts.  Most importantly is the awareness of our club members on updates from the Board and the Head Office.  Once this communication stream becomes deficient, our advancement will backslide.  Bottom line is – all Quotarians must be in the know of current updates.

I earnestly believe that paramount to the success of Quota International is every single one of us.  We are the nobles for Quota to remain a powerful change agent.

We are on the right track as we adapt to quickly developing modern times.   Education, communications, technology among others are fast moving.

While adversities in our lives sometimes prevail… especially when we experience dissatisfaction, pessimism or anxiety, we must confront them with faith, hope and love… and we will surpass all these.  To quote Sir Winston Churchill…  “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Herewith, my friends is the platform during my watch by which I will guide myself:

  • Believe that we will surpass our trials
  • Trust the influx of positive influences and generous patronage from our members
  • Love all that our Quotarians do for our beloved organization
  • Support Quota’s We Share Foundation and Wanda Frey Joiner through an appeal to augment donations
  • Focus on Quota’s organizational service goals – Child Development, Health and Wellbeing and Workforce Development
  • Value members / acknowledge their contributions
  • Recruit members / organize new clubs
  • Develop leaders within clubs by delegating duties
  • Encourage more club fellowship activities to tighten friendship
  • Adapt to changes and modern ways for a purpose
  • Find ways of lowering overhead expenses like taxes and others
  • Improve on communications

Before I conclude, I would like to acknowledge our notable Quotarians from Regions 18 and 19 (Philippines and Malaysia), who have assisted me extremely in many ways and they are…  Past District 41 Governor and Charter President of Quota Manila South Marilou del Rosario, who incidentally is my good friend since Kindergarten and who introduced me to Quota 25 years ago, Charter District 41 Governor Nelly Ledesma, Past District 41 Governor and Charter President of Quota Parañaque Lynne Piad, who initiated the Convention committee for Regions 18 & 19, Region 19 Director Maricel Wong, who shipped the beautiful centerpieces on your tables, which incidentally are for sale, Past Region 18 Director Bernadette Galang, who organized the dance number for Region 18, Past District Secretary/Treasurer Dos Patag, Past President of Quota Manila Lou de Guzman, who helped me with my President’s theme and actively participated on the Convention committee Philippine side, Past President of Quota Mandaue Judy Castillo, who organized the dance number for Region 19, Past President of Quota Metro Cebu Jennifer Ngo-Sibi, who designed my President’s theme pin, Past and Current Regions 18 and 19 Directors and Team, Past President of Quota Manila South Colo Ventosa, President of Manila South Gina Boncan-Francisco, my fellow Manila South Quotarians and to all our Filipino and Malaysian Quotarians.

Incidentally, this is a significant occasion to see a huge delegation from Regions 18 and 19 (Philippines and Malaysia), which I believe is about equal to the number delegates from Australia and New Zealand.

I would also like to particularly thank my family here with me tonight…  my only child, Henry, his wife, DinDin and my only grandchild, Gaby, who of course is the apple of my eye.

Last but not the least, thank you most sincerely to one and all because you are my actualEmilie's President's theme 2018-2020.jpg strength and inspiration!

And so, with trepidation, but “sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust,” I accept this charge to take the position of International President for the Quota years 2018-2020.

Emilie Simon,
Quota International of Manila South
International President 2018-2020