What’s in a name?

I don’t know about you, but if 2020 felt like the lost year, April 2021 felt like the lost month. The need to emerge from the trauma of the last year was palpable. We rushed to restaurants. We began celebrating birthdays. We unashamedly shared pictures of ourselves with actual people hugging and standing near one another without masks. These simple milestones reminded us of “the old world”. We tried to fit in every moment we missed over the last year into this one month. It made me the best kind of exhausted. 

It also made me evaluate. We discovered that although the will to return to “the way it used to be” was strong, the ability to actually be what we used to be has in some ways been forever lost. We will never be what we used to be because we are (as we should be) forever changed by the experiences of this last year. 

So what does that mean for CWLI? 

Our team, including our board members, have been asking this question a lot as we emerge from the pandemic. We are committed to emerging stronger and more responsive to you, our members. We are committed to tightening up what it means to be a “member” of CWLI. 

So, over the next few months, you’re going to see some improvements to our language and processes. We asked ourselves one important question: are we a membership organization or are we an institute? The truth is, we are both. But it is also true that our mission compels us to develop leaders. Our mandate requires growth. It is our responsibility to grow our members at the same pace that we are growing our mission. 

The first major improvement is how we view you, our members. We want you to see yourselves as we see you…as leaders. Therefore, you will see some revisions to our membership levels. 

Non-members are now Prospective Leaders. Regular Members will now be Transitional Leaders. And Sustaining and Legacy Members will now be Sustaining and Legacy Leaders. This simple update better positions our mission in the way we interact with you and provides cohesion about why we exist and the benefit we are dedicated to delivering to this region. 

You are on a journey to becoming or growing as a leader. We provide the platform for that transformation to occur. Unlike other membership organizations, we have an obligation to create movement, to disrupt. This disruption is necessary to help us all grow into the leaders this community needs. If we remain comfortable, this growth is not possible. Our founder, Marj Fleming, said it best when she said that the vision for CWLI was to be an organization that helped women envision even the possibility of being leaders. Twenty five years ago that was a big calling. We are still living into that calling today, perhaps more so after the setback of the pandemic. We invite you to realize yourself as the leader we see in you. It is our hope that this simple change in language will help you discover the leader within and let us help pull her out. 

The second major improvement is connected to the benefits you will enjoy as a leader in CWLI. We have been listening to you about how you wish to consume our archived content. Because we realize life sometimes gets in the way of your intentions, beginning immediately, anyone who registers for a live Leadership Study (whether you’re able to attend or not) will receive a recording of the session for 7 days following the airing of the session. Once the Leadership Study is archived permanently there will be a fee to view at that time. However, we have built in new portals on our online library for your particular leadership level. Beginning immediately, once you create a free account at cwli.thinkific.com, you will be able to access content through a portal specifically curated for you. For example, Transitional Leaders will use the “Transitional Leaders Portal” in the digital library. The same is true for Sustaining and Legacy Leaders. Content generated for access by the general public will be archived in the “Prospective Leaders Portal”. Various discounts have been assigned to each leadership level and purchases will be monitored by the CWLI team.  

Finally, Sustaining Leaders will return to having a nominal fee for accessing Leadership Studies. You will begin to see a fee of $10 per session as we work to enhance the value of each leader level. Legacy Leaders will receive all Leadership Study content included in your leader level. We welcome continued feedback about how we can do the best job possible in helping you discover the right leadership level for you and ensuring you see the value in how you are supporting the CWLI mission.

You are not “just members” to us. To us, you are ambassadors for our mission. You are the shining examples of the leadership we want modeled throughout this community. You are sustaining something bigger than all of us. It’s time we recognize that and adjust our mindset and behavior accordingly. We believe that we owe it to our foremothers to embrace the opportunity of female leadership and activate it. We are so excited about what this year has to offer as we pivot. Thank you, leaders, for making sure we are still here to increase the leadership capabilities and influence of women. 

Let’s Move FORward Together,