November President’s Letter

SPECIAL EDITION: Bylaws and Retrofit

Posted by Laurie Schechter

November 16, 2023

Next year, The Ebell will celebrate its 130th anniversary.  Unlike many of the women’s organizations that were founded during the late 19th century as part of a movement to educate and empower women, The Ebell is one of the few that survives while remaining true to its original purpose.

As Ebell President Mrs. Charles Smith notes in her 1937 President’s Letter, “No one can sit still in a changing world.”  And because The Ebell and its leadership did not sit still, because they adapted to the challenges and embraced the opportunities they repeatedly faced, The Ebell today stands strong as a beacon of inspiration to women and a pillar of the community; we continue to serve as a vibrant center for arts, culture, education and service. Through pandemics, depressions, and changing societal roles, The Ebell has remained relevant through a resilience and creativity that is truly inspirational.

Over the years, change has been a constant.  In 1894, The Ebell consisted of a handful of women meeting in a parlor of a member’s home.  By 1927, upon completion of the Lucerne campus, the membership had reached a peak of over 3000 women.  In 1936 there were 18 academic department programs including Bible Literature, Browning Study, and Parliamentary Law, and the Board included four Vice Presidents and two Secretaries with the Executive Committee elected by The Board of Directors.  In the late 1970s, facing a financial crisis due to waning membership and resources, forward-thinking Ebell leaders applied for and received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status (that required amending the Articles of Incorporation) creating tax advantages and greater fundraising opportunities. Moving to a more recent past, when the pandemic hit and our doors were shuttered, unable to provide in person events, we pivoted to an online programming platform and secured millions of dollars in federal emergency funding to help pay our bills.

Once again, we are at an inflection point that requires creativity, resourcefulness and transformation.  The Ebell must raise more than $40 million for a city-mandated seismic retrofit to be completed within the next 10-20 years.  Hiring our first ever Executive Director was a critical first step in this process.  Strengthening our governing documents and structure to support this process is also essential.  The decisions that we make today will profoundly impact what we look like tomorrow and in the long-term.

The articles in this E-magazine include an introduction to the seismic retrofit mandate as well as more detailed information on the proposed Bylaws updates that the membership will vote on early next year.

Specifically, you will find:

  1. Letter of Gratitude from Stacy Brightman, Executive Director
  2. Los Angeles Non-Ductile Concrete Retrofit Program – Property Owners Guide (from the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety)
  3. Bylaws Update Letter
  4. Frequently Asked Questions about the Bylaws Changes
  5. Proposed Bylaws

The purpose of this special E-Magazine and continuing communications is to ensure that everyone is informed and aware of what is going on and has an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

With heartfelt thanks for your continued support and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving,