The CWR Board in Indianapolis. From left: Eileen Dickerson, Jennifer Kaminski, Angela Szczawinska, CSFN; Jean merry, Kate Martin, Dave Eck, Stephanie Hall, Rochelle Cassella, Sarah Jenkins, Beth Kress, PBVM.

The CWR Board in Indianapolis. From left: Eileen Dickerson, Jennifer Kaminski, Angela Szczawinska, CSFN; Jean Merry, Kate Martin, Dave Eck, Stephanie Hall, Rochelle Cassella, Sarah Jenkins, Beth Kress, PBVM.

Dear CWR Friends:

In the interest of keeping you informed, the CWR Board of Directors shares highlights of our monthly meetings. The Communicators for Women Religious Board of Directors met in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites from January 18 through January 21, 2016. The hotel is the site of the 2016 CWR Conference.


The meeting days began and ended with 30 minutes of prayer, music and reflection.
Treasurer Sister Beth Kress, PBVM created and led the prayer service, which focused on:

  • Seeking God’s guidance in co-creating with CWR’s members a renewed organization based on our strategic plan, and
  • Reflecting on selected quotations from Pope Francis’ 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium: 2014 Encyclical Laudato Si and 2015 pastoral remarks regarding 2016 The Year of Mercy.

Vice Chair Sister Angela Szczawinska, CSFN, collaborated with Sister Beth and prepared all audio/video components for the meeting prayer service.


Board Chair Eileen Dickerson welcomed both new and returning Board members and thanked them for their service. New Board members Rochelle Cassella, Dave Eck, and Sarah Jenkins were invited to ask questions regarding the orientation information sent to them before the meeting. Jean Merry has served previously on the CWR Board.

Eileen shared an e-mail message from Sister Lorraine Wesolowski, OSF, one of the founding members of our organization:

“To all who gave birth to the strategic plan, Congratulations! It is an exceptional piece of work now to be executed moving forward. I take great pride in how far the organization has come since those first days when some of us sat around a table and dreamed! Blessings to all!”

Treasurer Sister Beth Kress and Coordinator Susan Oxley conducted a tutorial on CWR finances and financial statements.

Videoconference with women religious in Ireland

The Board met, via videoconference, with a group of women religious in Ireland who are considering forming an Ireland region of CWR, under the leadership of CWR member Sister Patricia Lenihan, RSC. During the 30-minute meeting, we introduced ourselves, as did the Irish sisters. We answered their questions about the benefits of CWR membership and assured them that we will support their efforts. The videoconference was a warm and delightful outreach, and we were pleased at the opportunity for potentially expanding CWR’s international membership.

Minutes Approved
Minutes of our December Board videoconference were approved.

Executive Team Report

Eileen reported:

  • A temporary contract is in place for CWR Coordinator Susan Oxley. The contract term is from January 1, 2016 until March 31, 2016 and can be renewed on a month-to-month basis after that time, if needed. A new Coordinator contract will be created when an Executive Director is hired.
  • A Strategic Plan Implementation Committee is working on moving forward on the goals of the Plan, although some aspects cannot be accomplished until an Executive Director is hired. There is great excitement about our bigger vision! Members of the committee are: Julie Gilberto-Brady, Eileen Dickerson (Co-Chairs), Sister Barbara Mullen, CSJ, Jean Merry, Coordinator Susan Oxley, Sister Beth Kress, PBVM and Sister Angela Szczawinska, CSFN.
  • An executive recruiting firm, P.J. Lynch Associates, has been engaged by CWR to assist in the search for an Executive Director. P.J. Lynch Associates will be disseminating the E.D. position and receiving resumes until February 29, 2016.

The Board requests all CWR members to share the E.D. position description/information with qualified individuals who may be interested.

Treasurer’s Report
Sister Beth gave a report on CWR’s current healthy financial status.

Coordinator’s Report
Susan informed the Board that nine new members have joined CWR since October. Membership is now at the organization’s highest level, at 198 members. We hope to break the 200 benchmark soon!

CWR Documents Review

The strategic plan was reviewed by the Board and committee chairs were asked to reflect on the actions their committees can take immediately to move the plan forward.

The Board also reviewed CWR by-laws and policies and procedures. Some policies and procedures were updated, although other updates can’t be made until an E.D. is in place.

Committee Reports

Conference 2016 Chair Kathy Gatliff, who was unable to attend the meeting in person, met with the Board via videoconference. Her committee is fine-tuning details on the conference schedule, speakers, workshops and evenings out.

Development Committee Chair Kate Martin has completed preliminary ground work on relevant contacts and exhibitors for Conference 2016. She presented ideas for revised categories, pricing and forms for sponsors and exhibitors. She is excited about beginning the Conference 2016 development initiatives and is seeking members for the committee who will help with researching and contacting prospective sponsors and exhibitors and try to get a Local Ministry Marketplace this year. Please contact Kate if you are interested in serving on the Development Committee:

Membership Committee Chair Sarah Jenkins announced that Barb Hecht will be co-chairing the committee.

Marketing Co-Chair Jennifer Kaminski reported that her committee:

  • Is sending out targeted press releases about the four new CWR Board members
  • Provided CWR materials to Sister Patricia Lenihan for her January meeting
  • Purchased mailing lists from the Official Catholic Directory. A promotional brochure and letter will be mailed to non-members by the end of February.
  • Is preparing an Animoto video for the LCWR website. The video will be included among the materials for new LCWR leaders. The committee is also reviewing the “Communications Imperative” flyer that is usually sent to the New Leader Workshop.

Conference 2017
The Board reviewed the results from the survey regarding members’ interest in possibly attending a conference in Canada. The responses were extremely positive.

Other Business
The Board:

  • Reviewed comments from the annual, end-of-year Board member evaluations
  • Discussed plans for the May Board meeting in Racine, Wisconsin
  • Scheduled monthly videoconferences through May

Some Board members officially toured the hotel, in anticipation of the conference. Others left the meeting due to the oncoming snow storm. During the meeting, Board members found the hotel to be an attractive site, with nice rooms, accommodating staff, and good food. There are also many restaurants, shops and attractions within walking distance.

Best wishes for success in your work in 2016!

CWR Board of Directors
Eileen Dickerson, Chair
Sister Angela Szczawinska, CSFN, Vice Chair
Sister Beth Kress, PBVM, Treasurer
Rochelle Cassella
Dave Eck
Kathy Gatliff
Stephanie Hall
Sarah Jenkins
Jennifer Kaminski
Kate Martin
Jean Merry
Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM, LCWR Liaison
Carol Schuck Scheiber, NRVC Liaison

“The benefits you receive as a member of CWR are made possible by an ALL VOLUNTEER Board. CWR can thrive and grow as long as our members volunteer their gifts through Board service.”