Membership and Leadership Development
Skip to a section: What is MLD? | Who are the coaches? | Why was the program created? | What impact has the program had? | How do I get involved?
What is the Membership and Leadership Development Program?
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:
Who are the coaches? What do they do?
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.
Why was the program created?
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.
What impact has the program had?
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!
For some of the LWVIL local leagues participating in MLD, membership growth has exceeded 50%. And the growth continues for a sixth straight year in 2018.
I want to get involved! How do I find out more?
To get involved as either a coach or a local League representative, please contact Sue Khalaieff, LWVIL board member and MLD program 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.
MLD Coaches (2018-2019):
Local Leagues currently participating in the MLD program:
MLD Training 2018
We were pleased to host over 50 LWV leaders at our annual Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) training in July 2018. This year's training focused on the "leaderful organization" and practical leadership skills, but there were also opportunities for networking, problem-solving and laying the groundwork for an upcoming successful year.