Delivered by President Richard Brownell, January 17, 2007.
In the tradition of transparency and accountability that are the benchmarks of any successful democratically-elected organization, I would like to take a few minutes to present to you the state of New York Young Republican Club as it stands at the beginning of this New Year. I will review for you the accomplishments of 2006, and I will also present a series of projects and ideas for the coming months that I believe will help the Club continue to grow in 2007.
The benchmarks that offer the clearest picture of this organization’s success are its total membership and its fundraising performance. While fundraising does include the generous contributions of Club alumni and supporters, the yearly dues that members pay to join this organization are our principal source of fundraising. Consequently, building a larger membership is key to maintaining a successful operation.
As of December 31, 2006, this organization had 412 dues-paid members, making it one of the largest, if not the largest, Young Republican club in the United States. It is also one of the largest Republican political organizations in New York City. That we can boast such an active membership in a city that prides itself as a liberal bastion in the world of politics is a testament to the hard work performed by our Board of Governors and elected officers, chief among them Sharlene Santercole, our Membership Committee Chair. Recruiting new members, keeping in touch with current members, and bringing former members back into the fold is her stock in trade, and I’d like to recognize her now for her efforts.
In 2007, we must strive to beat the membership number reached last year. Despite what some may perceive as an unfavorable political climate in this town, there is no reason that we cannot close out this year with 500 dues-paid members. We will continue to offer the membership-tier program first implemented in 2005. This program has continued to be successful both in terms of offering members a variety of membership options and providing the Club with a greater flow of operating capital with which to offer events and opportunities. But that’s not all. We will also execute a micro-targeted mailing to 18-to-40-year-old Republicans living in New York City that will promote the Club’s upcoming Spring Fling and the Leadership Institute seminar that we are hosting on March 24th. We will also send out a similar promotion to members from 2003, 2004, and 2005 with whom we have lost touch, encouraging them to rejoin our ranks.
Communicating the opportunities available within the Club as well as the Club’s accomplishments are key to recruiting and retaining members. Unlike in recent years, we do not have a Republican National Convention or a popular mayoral election to aid in our recruiting efforts. This year we will have to package ourselves smartly, professionally, and unabashedly as the principal political and networking organization of young professionals in New York City. We will continue to rely on the hard work of our Public Relations Chair, Jen Saunders, who has brought a wealth of professional experience to promoting our events and distributing press releases and advisories to our growing list of media contacts. Jen has been active in her participation and thorough in her efforts, and I thank her for being a part of our Board of Governors.
Another communications tool which we have come to rely on is our monthly newsletter, the Record, which has been smartly redesigned by Kellen Giuda and Valentine Ding, our Publications Committee Co-Chairs. Kellen and Val have brought tremendous energy and great ideas to producing the newsletter, and we can look forward to the newsletter as a source of information about our activities, our ideas, and our philosophy to Club members and the local media.
Since the Club’s resurgence in 2001, we have recognized the importance of the Internet as a tool for recruiting and informing members. Traffic to our Web site continues to climb, and has not seen a drop in visitors since its redesign in July 2004. Our online calendar offers information about numerous events of interest to Club members, and is visited by thousands of unique visitors every month. This coming year, we will add a user-friendly Classifieds section that will allow members to seek and post information about employment opportunities, buying and selling items, and connecting with other members. I would like to take a moment to recognize the efforts of Club member Yaron Walfish for his help in getting us up and running on the Web. We would not have the site we have today without his input and the contribution of his time.
In line with establishing a strong presence on the Web, the Club has also entered the blogosphere, and it has done so with a vengeance. In the last year, the NYYR Record blog has become a key stop on the Web for anyone looking for insightful opinions about conservative politics in this town and beyond. Nicholas Vertucci, our Club Treasurer, has done more than any single Club member to promote the Blog and keep it active and to fuel the fire needed to energize political debate. Thanks to him and our other bloggers, our Blog is now recognized by the New York Times, The Observer’s Politicker, the New York Sun, and even Slate.com, as a significant member of New York’s community of political bloggers.
We will continue to stimulate debate and encourage free-form networking among our membership. Although we all gravitated toward this organization because of a similar political philosophy, we come from a wide range of careers, backgrounds, and interests. This diversity has been instrumental to the growth of our organization and we will continue to build upon that. In the past year, our Events Chair, Gail Allen, has hosted a number of monthly socials at different venues around Manhattan, with the express purpose of allowing members to mix and mingle, and allow potential members to meet and greet current members. She has served this Club faithfully and has always held its best interests at heart. For that, I would like to recognize Gail and say thank you.
We will also continue to host dynamic and interesting speakers at our monthly meetings. Our organization has gained a reputation for offering one of the best speakers programs in New York City. 2006 continued that tradition. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes, and Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Faso were just three of the many informative individuals who stood at this podium to address our Club. I would like to thank Speakers Chairman Michael Salomon for his efforts in this regard, and for continuing to bring top names in the world of politics, business, and media to our members.
By informing and uniting our members with the tools and events I have mentioned, we have given the people who make up this Club the opportunity to effect real change in this city. This Club’s charter is to help get Republicans elected to public office. And we worked hard in 2006 to do just that. Despite the outcome of the 2006 elections, I am proud of the efforts of this Club and its members in their participation in various statewide and local campaigns. Kendal Elliott, our Campaign Chair, has several years of experience in managing and consulting Republican campaigns, and she brought tireless energy and keen insight to the effort. Thanks to her and our volunteers, future candidates for public office will continue to look to our Club for help in getting elected.
In getting Republicans elected, we are not alone. There are several other Republican groups in Manhattan who share our goal of greater GOP representation, and we enjoy working with them to achieve that goal. We have built strong relationships with the Women’s National Republican Club, the Metropolitan Republican Club, the Log Cabin Republicans, the TR Group, and many other groups. Sarah Chambers, our College Liaison, has maintained contacts with College Republicans throughout the city, and she has demonstrated to these clubs that our organization desires to help them as they graduate from college and move into the working world. She is currently working on our annual mentor program, whereby members of our Club will work with college seniors as they transition into careers. Conrad Steinmann, Chairman of our Board of Advisors, is also working on this effort, and continues to maintain strong contacts with Board members and alumni, who offer their experience and guidance to myself and my fellow officers as we continue to grow the Club. Eric Heindel, our General Counsel, is similarly reaching out to law school Republicans in an effort to further strengthen both the Club’s presence and the overall reach of the Republican Party in New York City.
It is important to note that this outreach to other groups and to potential members of our own organization is not entirely self-serving. We also desire to give back to the community. Whether it be helping to build a house for Habitat for Humanity, donating clothes for the homeless, or cleaning up a school in the neighborhood, Sean White has made sure that our Community Outreach Committee returns to the community the energy that we draw from it. Sean has also been instrumental in demonstrating our support for the men and women fighting for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. The work that he and his committee members engage in is sometimes overlooked, but they deserves a round of thanks for their efforts.
We have accomplished a lot in the last year. And I am quite confident about what we will be able to accomplish this year. Among the projects that I have noted which are new and on-going, we are currently designing an updated media kit that will be distributed to business professionals and civic leaders to give them more information about our organization. This will be a fundraising tool that will be essential to the work of Christy Kirschenmann, our Finance Committee Chair, and Nick Vertucci, our Treasurer. Christy is new to the Board of Governors, but she brings a great deal of political and sales experience to her position, and has already impressed me with her ideas and her energy. Nick has served this Club faithfully as Treasurer for over two years, and I’m glad to have him as a fellow officer. He brought an important point to the table my first day as president of this Club: Though we are a non-profit entity, we must think and act as a corporation with a bottom line. And he’s right.
There is one more person I would like to recognize before closing. Lynn Krogh, our Vice President, has been a loyal officer and a good friend to this organization, and to me personally. She is wise beyond her years, and you would be too if you spent 80-plus hours a week working for George Pataki. But she has played a role in the decision-making and the implementation of virtually every project I have talked about tonight, and she deserves to be recognized for her hard work.
Every member of this Club plays a role in its success, and you all deserve my thanks for your efforts. This Club has not only survived for 95 years, it has thrived. And that is because we have all taken a vested interest in making it grow. This coming year I look forward to working with all of you in making our goal of a larger, smarter, more savvy New York Young Republican Club a reality. Thank you.