This week, we feature Southeast District President Madelyn Davidson in WRJ's Leadership Spotlight. Here are Madelyn's thoughts on being a WRJ leader:
How did you first become involved with WRJ? What was your journey to becoming a WRJ District President?
I belonged to a new synagogue created in 1986 that did not have a sisterhood until 1994. We all wanted to work on building the synagogue before we started affiliate groups. I was the inaugural sisterhood treasurer for two terms and became sisterhood president in 1998. At that time, we were unaware of all that the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (NFTS) had to offer, even though we were members. My State Director, Wendy Adamson, contacted me and invited my sisterhood to host the hospitality suite at the upcoming District Convention, where Susan Bass was installed as District President. That convention changed my life and the lives of all my sisterhood members! We all experienced the “magic” of WRJ and became ardent supporters. I am especially proud that my small sisterhood (50 members) has always sent a large percentage of our membership as attendees to all district events and many WRJ events.
From there, I joined the district board as the assistant to the newsletter editor, which essentially meant I was a proofreader. The editor and I became close friends and did this together for two terms. We even won the President’s Award at a district convention! I moved on to serve as District Recording Secretary. But in 2008, I had to resign from all of my volunteer jobs in several organizations to become the primary caregiver for my late husband, Chris, who became a quadriplegic in a not-at-fault car accident. Chris died in 2013 from the injuries he received in the accident, and a few months later, I received a call from past District President Andrea Cannon asking me to rejoin the board. I initially told her I needed to think about it, but during our ensuing conversation, I remembered my many good friends and good memories of WRJ and told her yes. I served as Recording Secretary again in the days prior to Zoom. Our board meetings were held on conference calls, and I had to keep interrupting to ask who was speaking to get the minutes straight. I moved on to Treasurer, First VP, and now District President. All this because I was asked to do a small job over 20 years ago!
What positive things have happened as part of your leadership experience?
I have grown confident that my contributions are worthwhile and that my voice is worth hearing. As hard as it is to believe, I am basically an introvert, and speaking up at meetings has always been difficult for me. Once I came to trust my fellow board members, it became easier to speak up. At this point in my life, I figure I have nothing to lose and I’m not afraid to ask the hard questions.
As District Treasurer, I started using Quick Books for our recordkeeping and made it easier to pass our financial information on to future boards and keep cohesive records. As First VP, I got our district to start using membership software as a “one-stop shop” for our electronic communications, website, and membership tracking. I am proud of the fact that I was instrumental in pulling our district into the future of electronic communications and record keeping.
What do you love most about WRJ?
I have to say the thing I love most about WRJ is the deep and lasting friendships I have made. It was wonderful to be in a room of women with whom I instantly “clicked” on many levels. Some of the acquaintances became friends, and some of those friends became best friends. Throughout my life, I have had a habit of collecting friends in every city where I have lived. Interestingly, my involvement in WRJ has led me to collect friends all over North America in many cities where I have never lived!
What do you wish others knew about WRJ that they might not know already?
Coming from a small sisterhood, I love the fact that WRJ allows us to become part of a collective voice and increases our strength by increasing our numbers.
What advice do you have for future WRJ leaders?
Embrace change and try new things (especially technology).
Empower your inner diva and allow her voice to be heard.
Have FUN while changing the world!