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President Report

By Veronica

IN Board at work

Dear Members:

 

As the new President of International Neighbors this year, I came into the role with a balanced set of goals to embrace and promote our fantastic traditions as well as modernize and grow our organization for the next generation of Members for years to come

 

With much to learn, I have been so fortunate to have received the help, support, and guidance of the Executive Board (present and past) and countless Members who have volunteered their time and energy to make International Neighbors even stronger 66 years after its founding. The most fulfilling part of my position has been getting to know each of you. In the past International Neighbors year, I facilitated one-to-one discussions with each of our Executive Board Members and visited 21 of our Groups in-person and via Zoom, meeting many Members for the first time. This allowed me to listen and to better understand what International Neighbors means to each of you.

 

The overarching takeaway is that International Neighbors remains a fun, essential, and highly relevant organization. In-person engagement continues to build (with membership recruitment l requiring an on-going focus), Groups remain engaging and active, our finances are sound, and the Executive Board has invested in processes and infrastructure to help build a stronger International Neighbors foundation for the benefit of our Members. While we might be a small organization, we are one that is welcoming, warm, and continues to extend friendship and assistance to women from countries around the world. 

 

2023-2024 Highlights

 

Post-Pandemic, we successfully shifted back into an in-person community. While that brought uncertainty for many of us, the payoff was a focus on getting together, recruiting new members, and building the infrastructure needed to support our vision. 


  • Resurgence of International Neighbors Days: We have seen growing momentum and surging attendance at our monthly in-person meetings with a greater focus on cultural exchange, promotion of Group activities, and welcoming of new Members

  • Groups: Our Groups and activities remain the day-to-day backbone of International Neighbors Member participation. We launched a new Pop-Up Group where Members with busy schedules can enjoy tours, attractions and special events across Ann Arbor and neighboring communities on an ad-hoc basis. Conversation and Discussion Groups have not only improved English language skills, but have also done a great job of building a strong support and friendship network for Members new to Ann Arbor. Multiple Groups have continued to embrace Zoom to support inclusion from Members with children or with long commutes as well as global Members to still participate after returning to their home countries

  • Membership Outreach: This year we adopted a new and aligned definition of active membership, created membership recruitment kits, launched a public Facebook page, and executed community outreach through networking and events

  • Organizational Foundations: The Executive Board established new reporting procedures which allow for real-time tracking of Group memberships to highlight openings as well as enhanced fiscal controls including new budgeting and reimbursement procedures 

  

At the Annual Membership Meeting, May 2023

  

Membership Health

 

Growing membership is the key to our future. International Neighbors membership currently tops 545 Members from more than 80 countries around the world. This year we successfully recruited 63 new Members, and we saw 14 Members achieve Neighbor status (3-years plus of consecutive International Neighbors participation).

 

To increase monthly engagement and highlight participation opportunities, International Neighbors hosted 9 all-Member events including the Fall Open House, Winter Welcome, Annual Membership Meeting as well as 6 International Day events (Halloween Fun & Games Party, Fall Harvest Potluck, Holiday Cookie Exchange, Hands-on Crafts, Persian New Year, Fashion Show).

 

Finances

 

International Neighbors remains a fiscally sound organization.

 

  • This year we continued to support membership meetings, pay rental fees for our IN Day meetings and Conversation Groups, conduct outreach activities, and provide limited funding for Group outings and special events on a per request basis

  • For FY 2023-2024 we received more than $4,600 in Member donations as well as a generous grant in the amount of $1,000 from the Japanese Business Society of Detroit. We expect to close Fiscal Year 2023-2024 with a balanced budget and a reserve cash balance of nearly $27,000.   

 

Special Acknowledgments


The success of International Neighbors this year would not have been possible without outstanding contributions from so many worthy individuals deserving of special recognition:


  • Founding Mothers: Barb Banet, Matha Bhatia, Jolanta Nowak, Frankie Simmonds (in memoriam)

  • Departing Executive Board Members: Rebecca, Robyn, Maja. 

  • Executive Board Members: Stephanie, Janine, Gretchen, Lianne, Nitya, Dale, Mojgan, Shirley, Adriana, Phyllis, Adrienne, Melissa, Carole. 

  • Volunteers: All Group Leaders, IN Day Committee Members, Jooyeon


Looking Ahead to Next Year

 

As the 2023-2024 International Neighbors year draws to a close, I would like to issue a challenge to each Member to share International Neighbors with the world around you. Simply put, this means outreach, outreach, outreach. Bring a friend, reach out to an acquaintance, and share opportunities for International Neighbors to promote our wonderful organization.

 

We all know the experience of being a newcomer in a foreign place. Let’s make sure that women arriving on their first day to Ann Arbor are supported by International Neighbors with warmth, engaging activities, and friendship. And as your leader, thank you again for your enthusiasm and support this year.

 

Most sincerely,


Veronica Hannah

President, International Neighbors

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