WNBA in New Orleans: National Board Meeting and Award Ceremony

Written by Kate Farrell


Each year in June, the WNBA National Board meets for three days in one of our chapter cities: officers from all eleven chapters and the WNBA Executive Board report on their year-long activities and plan for the year to come. This year we were delighted to include the WNBA Award Ceremony as part of the annual meeting.

Being hosted by the New Orleans Chapter was, indeed, a treat! Our hotel was within walking distance of the French Quarter and conveniently provided meals in the atrium as we diligently focused on the work at hand: preparing for the 100th Anniversary of WNBA in 2017. Our group of dynamic leaders in the book world across the US discussed past successes, our history, and how to return to the original mission of our organization.

Woman suffrage-1917100th Anniversary Opportunities: As the anniversary year draws near, we were reminded how women continue to be underrepresented in the literary arts. While much has been accomplished in the last century for women’s role, the high-level executive positions, the most sought after awards, the number of books published and reviewed are still dominated by men.

It was a good time to reflect on our corporate narrative, our origins, and we did so as a group, retelling our centennial story.

Our story in brief: In the fall of 1917, a group of 15 women booksellers, excluded from membership in the all-male Bookseller’s League, met in Sherwood’s Book Store, 19 John Street, in downtown New York to form the Women’s National Book Association. Its unique characteristic was that membership was open to women in all facets of the book world—publishers, booksellers, librarians, authors, illustrators, agents, production people—the only criterion being that part of their income must come from books

Plans to publish a journal or book with archival material and other research are in the works.

Mission: We worked on talking points and a tighter definition of the WNBA mission. During the meeting, we drafted a statement: WNBA exists to promote literacy and to support the role of women in the world of the book. The purposes of WNBA are both educational and charitable. Over the next year, committees will continue to develop concise statements, tag lines, a new logo, and a way to clearly communicate our mission across all platforms.

Amy King-NC Weil

Amy King & NC Weil

Closely aligned to our mission statement was the choice of the recipient of the 2015 WNBA Award. This award is given to a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and has done meritorious work in the world of books. It has been presented annually since 1940 and biennially since 1976. The 54th WNBA Award was given to Amy King, award-winning poet, literary activist, and co-founder of VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, for being a voice for women. We enjoyed giving the award in New Orleans at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum to a full house with press coverage. Amy King inspired us with her acceptance speech, advocating for the hidden voices of women. 


Susan Larson

Thank you to WNBA New Orleans Chapter! None of our intense deliberations would have been possible without the exquisite planning of the New Orleans Chapter members and officers. We were met at the airport, ferried around town to a variety of restaurants and receptions, and given the gracious hospitality that the South is famous for. At the very last part of the meeting with minutes left, the New Orleans Chapter President, Susan Larson, won the trivia contest, our daily ice breaker, and wore the stellar tiara she so deserved!

Next June, the National Board meets in San Francisco. We invite you all to join us in planning the event, June 2016. We’ll need all members to help make it a success! Thank you for your membership and support, as always.

Kate Farrell, SF Chapter President

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