As of the 1st of January, 2009, the HSMG has over 1,000 members!!! What a way to start the New Year!
As can be seen by the graph here, membership has been steadily increasing for a long time. I think this is a testament to the all the members who are spreading the word about the benefits and accomplishments of the HSMG.
I’ve been the President now for almost 5 years. When I started on the Board in March 2003, I had no idea what I was getting in to. Then when I was appointed as President in 2004 after Janice Shepler was unable to serve, I had real concerns about the future of the HSMG. The Soap Guild at that time was very different than it is today.
After a great start in 1998, the HSMG hit an all time low in 2003 and early 2004, with members leaving, petty infighting and general dissatisfaction. I suppose it’s not “politically correct” to talk about it, but the truth is that it was nearly the end of the association. After the infamous Annual Meeting of 2003, we lost members in droves. By mid-2004, membership was down to just over 500 members, just barely enough to maintain the organization.
Luckily, there were several stellar members who stepped up to the plate and took positions on the Board.
- Linda Stevens, who started at the same time as I did, was the only other person willing to put her name on the slate. She was re-elected twice and during her tenure got the HSMG finances in order.
- Jackie Thompson who came onto the board to replace me when I was appointed President in 2004 and stayed through 2007. She personally oversaw getting our bylaws to a stable and workable place, and ensured that we all learned how to operate under Robert’s Rules of Order.
- LaShonda Tyree was elected to the Board in 2004 and has been a dedicated and active board member ever since. She served as Secretary and has been Treasurer for several years.
- Leigh O’Donnell came on to the Board in November 2005 and has, as most of you know, taken the conference to stellar heights and is currently serving as Vice-President.
In addition, Nancy Underwood, Cindy Chandler, Judy Green, Rosann Drielsma, Bob Kishtok, Nadine Laurent, and Pam Lyons all served part or a full term on the board during the last 5 years and did their part to help stabilize and expand the organization.
On a personal note, being the President has been a lot of hard work, headaches and heartaches, but it has brought me great joy as well. Soapmakers are a tricky lot, being independent, creative, determined and passionate. Trying to get the all of the organization going in a similar direction has been at times like herding cats. On the other hand, all that passion and creativity is what makes this group so great. I consider it a great honor to be President of this wonderful organization that now is over 1,000 members strong!
Marie Gale, President