Membership and Leadership Development
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The MLD program, developed by the League of Women Voters of the United States, matches local Leagues with dedicated, knowledgeable state League coaches who help them plan, problem-solve and strategize. The program has three main aims:
When a local League signs up to participate in the MLD program, they will be assigned a state coach from another local League in Illinois. The coach's role is to champion the local League's successes, mentor them through challenges and act as a bridge to connect the local and national coaching teams.
Coaching is done mostly through over-the-phone conversations, which take place once a month. Coaches are given ideas from the national League to communicate to local Leagues and help provide guidance and support during these monthly phone calls. Coaching builds a League support structure through which all three levels of our League—local, state and national--work together to make our voice strong and powerful.
In the fall of 2005, LWVUS confronted one of biggest challenges for the League over the past 30 years: Can something be done about membership decline?
To answer this question, the national League did research and engaged outside specialists. They discovered that the League of Women Voters has great name recognition, a highly respected reputation and a strong and proud history.
However, while LWV has a solid reputation--largely stemming from our long history and work on election-related issues--the general public does not have a clear understanding of the value of LWV membership. This is in part because current members are not communicating this in a consistent way that resonates with potential members.
The national League also realized that many local Leagues are struggling to find trained leaders who are ready and willing to lead. LWVUS discovered that local Leagues are in need of strategies to develop leaders in order to engage and retain members, make the League stronger and ultimately serve our democracy.
Currently, over 170 state coaches across the country are working with 27 national coaches (also known as the Ruth S. Shur Fellows), and we continue to see results!
Leagues participating in MLD experienced significant growth in 2012. Membership in these Leagues increased by 1.34% as compared to growth of 0.3% for all Leagues nationwide. This is the first time we have seen nationwide membership growth in decades--and in some states participating in MLD, membership growth exceeded 20%. And the growth trend continues for a third year in 2015!
To get involved as either a coach or a local League representative, please contact Erin Roeper, LWVIL board member and MLD coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, including copies of the monthly guidance materials for both local Leagues and coaches, please visit the Membership and Leadership Development page on the LWVUS website.
Current MLD Coaches (2016-2017):
Local Leagues currently participating in the MLD program:
2016 MLD Training Materials - coming soon