Statements of the Candidates for OrigamiUSA Board of Directors

The candidates were permitted to prepare statements of up to 400 words, which are presented below. The candidates were encouraged to address any or all of the following points:

o thinking ahead for the next 10 years, where do you see the organization’s future growth?

o what ideas do you have for reversing the trend of declining membership?

o if elected, what would you recommend to extend membership benefits to those outside the New York Tri-State area?

o what strengths do you bring to the board and the organization, such as, but not limited to: fund-raising and grants, event planning, volunteer recruitment and coordination, and/or organizational leadership.

o how can communication between ORIGAMIUSA administration and its members be improved?

o contributions you have made to the growth of the organization.

Note: This year candidates have been encouraged to the post to the OrigamiUSA mailing list. If you are not a member of the list all you have to do is to send an email to [the members' mailing list] and include your OrigamiUSA ID number. Yahoo Groups will then notify the list administrator who will then approve (or disapprove) your request. If you have just joined OrigamiUSA and don't yet have an ID number, then just put the word "new" in your request.

Class B Local (expires 2009)

Tony Cheng

I joined OrigamiUSA in 1987. My first job for what was then the Friends of the Origami Center of America was stuffing envelopes. In the twenty years since, I have served on many committees including Publications, Volunteer Recognition, Business, Finance, Library, Election, The Paper, Special Sessions, and Convention. I am currently the chair of the Legal and World Origami Day committees, but I still occasionally sweep the office or the crawlspace.

OrigamiUSA has a mission to spread the joy and fun of origami as widely as possible. I am proud that the organization has grown from a small group of folders getting together in Lillian Oppenheimer’s loft to one that hosts an annual convention which draws up to 700 attendees from around the world. I have been privileged to have served on the Board, nurturing its growth and expanding its horizons.

We have accomplished a lot but much remains to be done. I would like to see our membership base increase. It is only with a diverse, dynamic, and involved membership that growth is possible. I would like to encourage all members to step forward and offer whatever they can to help us provide quality products and services. In particular, I would like to see more of the creative ideas that are generated put into action. For that, we need more active volunteerism. The organization can only be as strong as we all make it. One of my goals is to increase the core of active volunteers beyond the several dozen who currently do nearly all the work.

Two of our primary means of communication with the membership are The Paper and the website. We receive much positive feedback whenever an issue of The Paper comes out. I am committed to helping to keep it on its production schedule (and have more diagrams!). I also feel that continued improvements to the website are important. I am supportive of building additional services such as a members-only area and an electronic archives.

Having known all of our Founders, I am a link to the ideals and visions set forth by them but let us also look forward into the future. Let us never forget the magic of origami; we are all here to fold paper.

Shrikant Iyer

After having worked as a volunteer (AMNH teaching tables, OrigamiUSA registration, goldmine, Extreme makeover etc.), as a teacher (PCOC, OrigamiUSA convention, Special Sessions); I've had tremendous insight and respect for running a volunteer run organization like OrigamiUSA. The key to the success of a non-profit lies in effective leadership and strong membership. OrigamiUSA has been very successful due to its strong membership. We truly are a blessed bunch, where so much talent meets so much hard-work. I'm very excited to be able to stand for OrigamiUSA’s board.

I fully support our mission. Our success relies on our programs and money we generate for and from these programs. My strengths in addition to the many volunteer hours for OrigamiUSA, also include an origami festival which I have planned for the past three years at Stony Brook University. From the first event, which gathered 600 enthusiastic folders of all levels, it has been a huge success. Last year, we had over 2000 people attend. Smart event planning, effective grant writing, and support from NY metro area folders have made this a super success. The events have been totally free because of a very generous grant from the Asian American Programs at Stony Brook University, which I secured. At the rate we are growing, it’s impossible to sustain and expand a festival of such magnitude with the existing sizable budget. I have applied for another grant with the “Staples foundation for learning”, to support our mission of spreading the “peace of paper” to the local community and beyond. Please visit to see the very comprehensive program planned for this year.

Imagine such programs happening all over the USA? As a member of the fundraising committee, I hope to be an effective fundraiser and coordinate support for such programs, which are directly in line with our mission statement. I believe similar programs all around the country will be more inclusive of our members outside the New York area, which will definitely drum up memberships and open the much needed communication channels among local groups and OrigamiUSA administration.

Using my experience and computer skills from my professional IT background, I’m confident I will be a great addition to our multi-faceted board. I personally support Ros Joyce, Toby Schwartz and Margaret Van Sicklen for the local OrigamiUSA board. I look forward to continue to serve our OrigamiUSA community; supporting its members and expanding its outreach.

Ros Joyce

I have been active member (#53) of this organization for 45 years. I’ve folded paper since childhood. At 15, I discovered Lillian Oppenheimer. I spent glorious times at her home, reverently perusing her library and gleefully reverse-engineering new models for her. I became totally immersed in her and Alice Gray’s contagious dedication to origami. Later on, Lillian, Alice, and Michael Shall often asked for exhibition pieces. Those were so much fun to do! It’s my pleasure to fold for the American Museum of Natural History’s origami holiday tree, annual gifts, and work teaching tables accompanying special events, tasks that “pay the rent” for OrigamiUSA’s office, storage, and facilities.

Today, Lillian’s books are in OrigamiUSA’s Research Library. Preserving this valuable asset for tomorrow’s folders is my priority. Under my Library Committee chairmanship, we developed a database, reorganized, translated, and labeled over 2000 books. What a huge, ongoing job! Now, I’d like to explore practical, legal methods of preservation/electronic storage of rare, fragile books. I’m hoping to find ways to improve membership accessibility.

I demonstrate my belief in outreach via teaching origami at schools, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, conventions, and special sessions, which are delightful means of advertising and spreading the magical joy of origami and of joining OrigamiUSA. My focus is to increase OrigamiUSA’s outreach.

Besides The Paper, members outside New York deserve more. I’m exploring ways to make digital videos of Special Sessions. A “how to” DVD can allow members to enjoy, rather than read about, missed OrigamiUSA sponsored events. Also, wouldn’t it be wonderful if other regional groups conducted Special Sessions?

As OrigamiUSA evolves through its growing pains, I’m committed to our success. I see our future expanding on different levels beyond current boundaries. My concentration is to preserve the library, to encourage membership’s involvement, and to attract new members. Vote for me. I’m hard working and dedicated. I organize and prioritize tasks for timely execution. I support our mission statement. I will respond.

I look forward to working with the entire Board of Directors and I personally support the following strong local candidates: Shrikant Iyer, Margaret Van Sicklen, and Toby Schwartz. Vote for us. We bring experience and enthusiasm about origami in various useful capacities. As part of a spirited, cooperating team with coordinated strengths and goals, we can focus on specific constructive improvement and maintain our founders’ dreams into the future.

Jan Polish

In 1985 a friend taught me my first origami. I was delighted by the transformation of a single sheet of paper into an elegant flower. I met others who could master more complicated folds, and my delight turned into dazzle. How could they make a full-rigged ship from one sheet of paper, or a spider, or a stegosaurus? Fascinated by the people I met, astounded by the beauty and variety of the art I saw, and amazed by my discovery that volunteering, and being part of a constructive team, could be fun, I soon joined the Board.

I became Treasurer in 1993, since I was the only person on the Board with a financial background. Over the years I put our fiscal books onto the computer, defining departments and account codes so that we could effectively track our income and expenses, and instituted audits by a firm of non-profit-knowledgeable CPA’s. I chair the convention committee, and work with the teams that organize our PCOC and OSME conferences. I also work with our computers and maintain our databases.

I am on many committees, including Business, Finance, and On-Line Presence. In addition, I am the Features Editor for The Paper, and try to write an article for most issues. Since my retirement I am very involved in day-to-day activities in the Home-Office, currently supervising and training our new Administrator.

The volunteer lawyer who helped incorporate us commented ten years later that of all the non-profits he had helped, we were the only one to survive. Small non-profits can rarely live on membership income alone, and I am proud that many of my activities (convention, commercial, business) contribute to the fiscal health of OrigamiUSA.

Origami is an art, a craft and a therapeutic tool, and the magic to be found in a single sheet of paper continues to inspire me. I realize that there are many areas in which OrigamiUSA needs to improve. We are a working board, and an organization of volunteers. It’s very easy to say ‘YOU SHOULD DO X,’ but X will not happen unless someone is willing to do it. I will not make promises unless I am sure I can fulfill them. I want to work to see our conventions expand to more geographic areas, and our Internet presence become more sophisticated and inclusive. I believe that these things will help to satisfy and increase our membership base.

Toby Schwartz

I have been involved in our origami organization since 1991. I have volunteered and helped with Lending Library and Origami By Children. I also taught classes at Special Sessions and Conventions, as well as organized teachers for Teaching Tables and special events at the Museum (that’s how we “pay our rent”).

After retiring as a N.Y.C. public school teacher, I served three years (1997-2000) as OrigamiUSA’s salaried office administrator. I have continued to organize Teaching Tables and (along with Delrosa Marshall) have revived a project started by Michael Shall to instruct Museum volunteers (non-origami people) in the art of teaching origami to the

general public, so as to increase the number of teachers available for us.

I worked as the Volunteer Coordinator at Convention for the last two years, and I have devoted several years to organizing and maintaining the Reference Library. I spearheaded the effort (under Library Chair, Ros Joyce) to create a database of all books in the Reference Library and have labeled all 2,000 books in the collection. That’s most of what I’ve done. Many of you probably know me.

Importantly, I hope to keep our organization going, maintain its physical presence in the Museum, and get our magazine, The Paper, back on track. If you call, I will answer, if you e-mail, I will e-mail you back; if you ask questions, I will respond. Elect me, and I promise to improve operations and give the members the responsive

leadership they deserve.

I urge you to vote for me, and Shrikant Iyer, Margaret Van Sicklen, and Ros Joyce, — it will be a smart move.

Margaret Van Sicklen

Currently I am on the Board of Directors – I was elected by the board in April to fill Ravi Apte’s vacated seat. As an OrigamiUSA member since 1999 I am excited to serve the membership with fresh eyes and ears. I have joined the Finance Committee and the World Origami Day Committee.

Spreading the word of Origami – You may know me as the creator of the Origami Page-A-Day calendar. It was first published in 2000 and to date there have been more than a million calendars sold. None of that would have been possible without the encouragement and help of OrigamiUSA.

The success of the calendar has allowed me to contribute financially to OrigamiUSA but now it is the right time to add my creative energy to the organization. Professionally I’ve spent many years in advertising and feel that my Brand Building/PR skills would be useful to promote the organization on a national level. I would try to make folders in every corner of the country know who we are, what we are doing and most importantly what fun we have together.

As a board member I would try to promote the idea of World Origami Day. This is a wonderful opportunity to share the gift of origami through school and library organizations on this day and consequently throughout the year.

I would also like to explore ways to promote our on-line store The Source as not only the place to go for our origami needs but also the place for everyone’s origami needs. This would not only help spread the word about OrigamiUSA, but it could also be a major revenue source for our organization.

I personally support the following other candidates for local representative to the OrigamiUSA Board, Shrikant Iyer, Ros Joyce, and Toby Schwartz. They are doers, bringing fresh ideas, proven success and a passion for our mission.

OrigamiUSA is a wonderful organization and inviting more people to the folding party will only make it more exciting for all.

Class B Remote (expires 2009)

Ruthanne Bessman

In supporting OUSA’s mission statement, I will build beyond “bringing paperfolders together to share the joy and appreciation of paperfolding” to include a public community that sees origami not only as a craft/hobby, but appreciates the complexity and sophistication in its new direction as an art. I will bring the following experience and strengths to the Board and promote OUSA at the national level to reverse the trend of declining membership: increase fund raising, outreach efforts to public communities and volunteers, develop teaching experiences that carry-on the teaching methods I learned from the OUSA founders, be involved with the national convention exhibition and other exhibitions, and promote individual origami success stories, major exhibitions and special events on the OUSA website.

Origami Accomplishments:

  • Provided origami experiences to paperfolders and communities: teaching and lecturing to private students and groups numbering hundreds at a time.
  • Attracted intergenerational participants aged 4-95.
  • Solo Exhibitions state-wide; Juried Award/Japan; Invitation Only participation in Masters Of Origami in Salzburg, Austria; Official Delegate/Teacher/Lecturer of Origami from Wisconsin in Chiba, Japan; Recipient of private and public grant awards to teach children and public including young patients at University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital; Mentored by Lillian Oppenheimer, Alice Gray, Michael Shall and Toshie Takahama.
  • Featured artist at the grand opening of Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. I taught over 1500 individuals to make a large citizen involved work that I designed and implemented with over 4000 folded units that is on permanent display.

Professional skills:

  • Public Persona Wisconsin Public Radio/National Public Radio, Classics By Request program – host and producer
    • Exceeded fund raising goals.
    • Doubled audience and expanded target audience across generations and geography through outreach and knowledge of classical music; welcoming and encouraging participation of listeners.
    • Coordinate/Produce/Host special events: state-wide competitions/participants; anniversary celebrations; road shows; national NPR personalities’ receptions/performances.
    • Volunteers: recruit, work with, manage and delegate responsibilities.

In ten years, I see OUSA thriving as an organization with an increase both in membership and communities who support the origami art form. Members can be folders or simply people who support the organization, (e.g., Members of museums, societies and foundations), all this with the purpose of raising public awareness of origami. This is a good way to raise funds and to share my love for this wonderful world of origami and OrigamiUSA.

Robert Lang

This new year will be my sixth year as an OrigamiUSA (remote) Board member. I’ve been a member of the organization for about 25 years and have contributed as a volunteer in various ways: teaching, helping with conventions, contributing diagrams to publications and fund-raising, and since 2002, working as a Board volunteer.

At present, I chair 3 committees. As Finance Committee chair, I work with our Treasurer to develop a budget and monitor our fiscal health during the year. The Archives Committee has begun scanning diagrams and soliciting permissions to reprint old diagrams on our website. The Copyright Committee develops policy and interpretations of the law and provides advice to members. Like other Board members I also weigh in on and vote on general issues of policy and planning within the bounds set by our Bylaws.

Last year I organized and chaired the 4th International Conference on Origami in Mathematics, Science, and Education, held in September of 2006. It was, by most accounts, very successful; its success was due heavily to the support of the OrigamiUSA Local Convention team, consisting of volunteers both on and off the Board.

Part of the task of providing service to our members is establishing better channels of communications. Toward that end, we’ve added an RSS feed to our website; I’ve also written regular postings on our member email-list, responding to queries from other members, and describing processes (like financial details) that members have asked about.

In this past year, I joined the Online Presence Committee, which focuses on our web activities (the mailing list, website, online access to The Source). I am particularly excited about this area, because I believe that future opportunities for expanding our membership and serving our non-local members will come through both communications and services provided via the web. We are actively working to expand the range of materials to provide through our website. I believe our website offers far more potential for serving our membership and recruiting new members than it currently provides, and I plan to put my energies into working with the volunteers and staff who build, support, and maintain the website, to bring new services about: web access to publications, diagrams, and more. If you’ve got ideas for projects (or would like to help out), drop me a note. Meanwhile, I would appreciate very much receiving your vote for me for the Board!