We are all sorry that our Program Coordinator resigned, but happy that she accomplished so much in the year that she served.
From the beginning, Ellen Schofield reached out to our entire Netwest region, the nine counties of NC and the counties in bordering states. She had to get on a fast track to learn the ropes and meet the members. Being a person who is well organized herself, she organized and set up a website and streamlined our blog and other features. The membership page she created for us is the only online presence some of our members can claim.
In May, a short time after Ellen came on board, we held the first Netwest Conference since 2006 with a large attendance, good faculty and fellowship for writers from all over western NC and north Georgia. By using the funds accumulated in our Netwest treasury, Ellen set the registration fees well within reach of our members. By holding the conference in the beautiful Sylva Library, for free, the event drew members from the north end of the region, Henderson County, to the far south, Cherokee County in NC and Fannin, County in Georgia.
Karen Paul Holmes who facilitates Writers’ Night Out in Blairsville, GA said, “Ellen jumped right in with two feet and was dedicated to the job. She was always pleasant to work with on matters regarding Writers' Night Out and fully supported my choice of a new venue. She also knew the importance of good communication, both in general announcements to the full membership and also in quick responses to individual emails.”
Although Ellen was not well-known to many members when she accepted the PC position, she endeared herself to all she met and was open to helping writers in any way she could. Having served as Program Coordinator for two years, 2007, 2008, I know the job requires hours of time that the average member doesn't realize. Much of the job is done out of the public eye.
Bill Ramsey of Hendersonville said, “Writers can be contentious at times. Incidents of contention like the role of Netwest relative to the Network, the governor's naming of a new NC poet laureate and lesser skirmishes could have been real setbacks. Ellen is a peacemaker and some of that was needed during her term. We need more peacemakers.”
Along these same lines, Bob Grove said, “Ellen has had a positive influence on maintaining a complementary relationship between Netwest and the Ridgeline Literary Alliance. Her openness in dialog, warmth toward fellow writers, and follow-through with the challenges and responsibilities of her position set an example that will be hard to replace. Ellen will be missed.”
I asked Ellen what she enjoyed about being Program Coordinator for NCWN West and she said, “I appreciated the trust placed in me, and I particularly enjoyed traveling and meeting many of the members. Writers are always interesting people, and I made many good friends in my short tenure.”
When asked the reason for her resignation, Ellen responded, “My job description called for me to spend 10-12 hours per month for a compensation of $200, which seemed appropriate. However, I quickly realized that I could just barely cover the minimum responsibilities of the PC job in that amount of time. I came to believe that in order to be fully engaged, and effective, a Program Coordinator needs 10-12 hours per week - at a minimum. Unfortunately, my circumstances do not allow me to do the job as it is now without more compensation, and my work ethic does not allow me to do the minimum.”
Ellen said she hoped that until a new Program Coordinator, who has the same dedication as those who came before her who asked for little or no compensation, can be found, her hope is that the NetWest members will see themselves as members of an influential state-wide organization and follow the lead of its capable Executive Director, Ed Southern.