Statements of the Candidates for OrigamiUSA Board of Directors

In 2009 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:

  • Where do you see the organization growing in the next 5 years?
  • How can we increase our membership?
  • What would you recommend to extend membership benefits to those outside the New York Tri-State area?
  • What qualifications and talents can you see yourself bringing to the OrigamiUSA board?
  • What contributions have you made to the growth of OrigamiUSA?

In addition to their 400-word statement that was mailed to every member, candidates were allowed to submit an extended statement that would appear only on the web. Statements for all candidates are given below.

Candidates have also been encouraged to the post to the OrigamiUSA mailing list.

Local Board Candidates

Jean Baden-Gillette

"Life is a series of experiences, which can either lead to growth, development and individual gratification or to personal stagnation and intellectual numbness". Volunteerism, a concept that has been in my family for generations, has led me to be an individual who finds great satisfaction in helping and contributing. With my professional retirement imminent I believe it is a time to once again expand my horizons.

I have been a member of OrigamiUSA since 1983 and one of the people who worked to bring about the organizations growth from 370 members when I joined to over 2000 members today. I have taken part in its transition from The Friends of The Origami Center of America to OrigamiUSA by active involvement on the board first as a member, then as Treasurer and finally as President.

Sometimes our growing was painful but it was always worth it.

In 2002 when my term of office was over I decided not to seek reelection on the Board of Directors of OrigamiUSA. I had served on the Board for 18 years and felt it was time to let others come forward as well as give myself a much needed break. I love to fold paper, don't we all? However, a love of paperfolding is not sufficient qualification for being a board member. Board members should be leaders, decision makers, people who see a need and fill it either themselves or through recruitment. Board members should give or get goods and services that will benefit the organization.

In my professional life I am a manager, a trainer, and an administrator. The organizational skills, problem solving skills and computer software skills that I bring to that position will transfer well as skills needed on the board of directors.

During the years I was not serving on the Board I remained an active volunteer by being Co-Chair of the Election Committee, through 2008. I continue Convention Committee coordinator functions and, of course, promote OrigamiUSA and origami sharing by my active involvement in teaching events for the general public and at conventions in the origami national and international community

I seek election to the Board of Directors so that I may work to continue Michael Shalls' vision of people around the world "folding paper anywhere, anytime". It is important for us to move forward without forgetting our roots. Let us promote Peace with Paper.

Ros Joyce

I'm Ros Joyce (#53), enthusiastic and longtime member of our folding group from its infancy at Lillian Oppenheimer's home to its present status. I started folding as a child and eventually had the good fortune to discover a marvelous founding community with contagious dreams to fold, share, and spread the magical world of origami. I've been happily and actively involved with this organization under its various titles for many years. It has been a pleasure and adventure to further the love of our art.

For as long as I can contribute usefully and effectively, I hope to participate in OrigamiUSA's progression into a strong future. We live in a challenging new marketplace and communications environment. I believe we can respond to change while preserving things we value from the past.

I've chaired the Library Committee for several years, securing, collecting, sorting, documenting. We have a world class collection of books and other publications. Reorganizing, translating, labeling, modifying our database are ongoing and necessary to conserve them for future members. We are exploring practical methods of preservation/storage of books. Duplicate volumes are selected for approval for our popular Lending Library. Updated library lists are now available on the website.

I chair the Origami Holiday Tree Committee, an intensive labor of love and extension of outreach. I'm active in museum activities, holiday teaching tables, sleepovers, special events and requests, because it 'pays our rent' at this prime location. Also, media exposure and expanded contact are awesome means of sharing the wonders of origami with the public. It generates interest and membership. Additionally, I continue outreach via demonstrations, storigami, and workshops at schools, libraries, exhibitions, festivals, conventions, special sessions and local groups.

I'm part of the Paper Committee, a member of the Business, Volunteer Recognition, Exhibition, and Archives Committees. I'm also Secretary. It's been a learning experience.

First and foremost, I represent membership that entrusted me with OrigamiUSA responsibilities. While promoting our mission statements, I intend to maintain and support actions in the best interest of the organization and coordinate service with due deference and respect to members. As I look to the future, I see increased involvement with current and online origami communities. Allow me to continue to serve. With passion and integrity, I'm committed to our success in making this organization the best it can be. I am as always, respectfully yours, Ros Joyce.

Vyda Liaugaudas

Every election when "THE CALL" comes out I, like so many others, read it, put it aside, and say: "Why me? Not me. Let someone else do it." This year I was inspired and motivated by Dr. Robert Lang to step up and answer his call.

As an OrigamiUSA member for over 20 years (#1322), I have been involved in many origami activities. For all these years I have attended every Convention. For many Conventions and Special Sessions, I have assisted teachers. Currently, I continue to volunteer to teach at the Teaching Tables throughout the year. I also teach Origami at the museum's special events. No matter what I have done, I find it rewarding to be able to share the joy of Origami.

I have even taken photos for members when their equipment died or they forgot their cameras. Before the digital age, I used to create a Convention and Holiday album that was kept above a desk in the Home-Office. Many visitors enjoyed looking at the wonderful origami models. Now, of course, the computer has all this information on the web. What progress we have made.

The year we lost our Administrator just before Convention, Toby Schwartz and I were asked to step in as Co-Administrators. We had not only to run the office but also to get ready for the Convention. With the support and advice of Jan Polish and all the volunteers who stepped in to help, we had a great Convention and were able to keep things running until a new Administrator was found. Thank you to all who helped. When I was on the Publications Committee, I remember spending hours over a lay-out board. Now, with a click of a mouse, all that work is done in a flash. Many kudos to a great team.

As a long-time member of OrigamiUSA, and a member of the Library Committee, I have always dreamed of having the Library more available to the membership. If I am elected, I promise to try to have the Library available once a month on a week-end, unless the convention and office needs take preference.

With this history of my volunteering and my Library goal, I ask that you vote for me.

Toby Schwartz

I have served on the OrigamiUSA Board since 2007, and have been a member of our organization since 1991. I look forward to continue working for the benefit of the membership. I believe the strength of our organization lies within our membership. Working together we will accomplish our goals, one of which is to encourage community among paperfolders.

When I first ran for election, I said I would help to keep our organization going, maintain its physical presence in the Museum, and get our magazine, The Paper, back on track. While it is difficult to make changes by oneself, I can say that I continue to work on those three goals. I work along with other volunteers to comply with all requests made by the Museum for the involvement of origami in various events. I also train Museum volunteers and employees to teach origami. In these difficult economic times, we should value our free space at the prestigious American Museum of Natural History even more.

I joined The Paper Committee and became the Editor of The Paper in March 2008. While it is a lot of hard work, I look forward to each new issue. I am very proud of the 100th issue which came out in February 2009. I enjoy very much being able to share my commitment and enthusiasm for origami through The Paper. The superb cooperation of members at home and abroad who volunteer their articles, ideas, photos and, above all, their love of origami have made The Paper what it is now.

I am on the following committees: Library, Special Sessions, Museum Activities, and Membership Policy. Many of you will remember me when, from 1997 to 2000, I was the paid Administrator in the Home-Office. Before that I was a public school teacher in New York City.

If you elect me, I will continue to do my best to spread the joy and appreciation of paperfolding.

Remote Board Candidates

Ruthanne Bessman

My first term as a Remote Board Member on the OrigamiUSA Board has been most rewarding. I am a Vice President, and I serve on several committees, including those involved with Fundraising, Membership Policy, Origami By Children, World Origami Days and Awards.

The area I am most proud of is taking over the Exhibition at the OrigamiUSA Convention. At the 2007 OrigamiUSA Convention I worked closely with V'Ann Cornelius, whose artistry and vision set the world standard for first-class origami exhibition. She knew that it was likely her last convention, and she carefully turned over to me the process she had developed over many years. Last year, after her sad passing, I took on the enormous responsibility of overseeing the exhibition from start to finish. My own innovation was to involve every origami exhibitor as a volunteer at the site, and we created a sense of community and family dedicated to protecting the area and sharing ideas. I hope to keep the Exhibition exciting and current, respecting the past traditions as we continue to grow.

The origami documentary "Between the Folds" by Vanessa Gould has been a great success, and she worked with us to put together footage into an exclusive DVD. We offered it as a fundraising premium, and it was extremely successful. The response from our members was tremendous. I was thrilled to work on this project, especially bringing in my own experiences from my professional job at Wisconsin Public Radio, and realize that more and creative fundraising will be critical in this time of economic insecurity for all non-profits.

I was also part of a committee formed to hire the new OrigamiUSA Administrator, as the only remote. The team whittled down over 550 resumes to 70 interesting to 10 possibles to six exciting to one wonderful choice. This experience made me appreciate the joys of working in an effective team, and improved my knowledge and understanding of the day-to-day operations in the OrigamiUSA Home-Office.

I have been a proud member of OrigamiUSA for 22 years and now that I have had the opportunity to serve on the Board it has only whetted my appetite for more involvement in an organization that I hold dear to my heart. I was lucky to know the founders, Lillian Oppenheimer, Alice Gray and Michael Shall, and I consider it an honor to continue their legacy of sharing origami with the world.

Eric Gjerde

As a relative newcomer to origami, I have greatly enjoyed the friendships that have developed and the wonderful community I have become a part of. This last year on the Origami USA board has been a learning experience for me, and helped me to better understand our organization's mission and the way we do things.

I came into the origami community from the internet, via email mailing lists and online origami communities; as a board member I want to particularly focus on developing further interaction in this area with both our national membership and origami folders from around the world. I firmly believe that much of the future of our organization revolves around having a strong online presence, while capitalizing on Origami USA's long history as an authoritative resource and knowledge base for all things origami.

In the next five years, I see our organization working to fulfill our mission of spreading the joy of origami by seeding local origami groups with the materials necessary for anyone to start up a group, supporting city/regional meet-up events and conventions, and facilitating all of this by providing a strong resource for information and working knowledge that other groups can rely upon. This, in my opinion, will help grow our membership, as we provide both a true added value to our members and reach out to people who are receptive to supporting our organization as new members. I also want to see a greater involvement on our part with contributing origami diagrams and information via the internet, and becoming a meta-resource for origami information on the web.

I bring to the board my love of origami, my knowledge and involvement in many of the existing and upcoming social networks being used by folders around the world, and my practical experience working both with other non-profits and within a business environment. I would be honored to serve on the board for another term and contribute to the best of my abilities.

Robert Lang

This new year will be my eighth year as an OrigamiUSA (remote) Board member. I've been an OrigamiUSA member since 1981 and have contributed as a volunteer by teaching, helping with conventions, contributing to publications and fund-raising, and, since 2002, as a Board volunteer.

A primary goal for me as a remote Board member has been to push for services that benefit our far-flung membership. In 2006, I joined the Online Presence Committee, seeing in our website an enormous and untapped potential for reaching out across the country to provide information and services to our members. After first "learning the ropes" as a volunteer, I became chair, and then led a team that developed our new website and, over the past year, populated the site with information, articles, hundreds of photos, diagrams, and regular postings on society news and Board goings-on.

I should emphasize the "team" aspect of this. Although I personally spend many hours each month on website-related work, goals of the redesign and ongoing goals of mine included an infrastructure that allows many people to work on the site and inviting and attracting volunteers to contribute. It's working; we have 5 different people who add content on an ongoing basis and 2 more just joined. Over the coming year we plan to expand the reach of our online presence through connections to external social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Flickr, Twitter) and to expand our in-house offerings (next up: a redesigned online Source).

As a Board member, I find myself fairly regularly pushing for ways to improve our connections to our non-local members, whether through the website or through other means (e.g., supporting local conventions). A key focus for me has been establishing consistent processes and documenting what we do as an organization. As chair of the Policies and Procedures committee, I've driven that; you can see examples of such documentation (on the website, naturally), and more, I hope, in the future. I've also contributed to other committees and their projects: Finance, Archives, Copyright, PCOC; and I'm an active participant and leader in process definition and related Board discussion. In 2008, my fellow Board members elected me a local Vice-President of the Board. In the coming years, I hope to continue to contribute in the ways just described and to provide information to our members about our plans and activities, and therefore would greatly appreciate receiving your vote.

Anne LaVin

I've been folding and fiddling with paper for as long as I can remember - and while other hobbies come and go, Origami has been the one consistent art in my life. I've been a member of OrigamiUSA since 1991, and have hardly missed a convention since.

I've also become an active volunteer for OrigamiUSA. With my engineering and computer background, I've been able to contribute a great deal to the Online Presence Committee, and help administer the OrigamiUSA discussion group. I contributed a lot of hours in planning, design and plain old "grunt work," rebuilding the OrigamiUSA website last year, and in the production of our yearly convention pages. Last year I led (and, along with a gang of volunteers, did lots of the data entry for) a project creating an online archive of the covers and tables of contents of all the issues of our magazine, the PAPER. I chair the "Hospitality" sub-committee for Convention, arranging translation support and assistance for foreign travelers to Convention; and at Convention, you may have seen me playing "bouncer" at ticketing each morning, the crazed woman jumping up and down over by the ticketing door, trying to get the announcer's attention to call more numbers.

Thanks to the Internet, we've shown it's possible to create physically-scattered but highly effective volunteer work groups such as the Online Presence Committee and our little PAPER archive project. Under Robert Lang's stellar leadership, the Committee has created an online presence the organization can be proud of, that is both attractive and flexible, able to change as needed in the future, with multiple contributors and authors. I look forward to continuing to participate in its design and evolution.

As a Remote Board Member and an IT professional with over 20 years of experience in using technology to bring information to people and allow teams to work together effectively, I hope to bring both a regular-member perspective to any issue before the Board, as well as champion technological solutions to help us move forward. I'm particularly interested in working to keep OrigamiUSA relevant and important to its many remote members, to support open communication throughout the organization, and continue to expand our volunteer projects wherever possible. No task is too large if we find ways to utilize our wonderful member volunteer base!

I would very much appreciate your vote in this year's election.

Margaret Van Sicklen

Spreading the joy of Origami.

I joined OrigamiUSA in 1999 and have been on the Board of Directors since April 2007. Some of you may also 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, sharing the gift of Origami with thousands of people. None of that would have been possible without the encouragement and help of OrigamiUSA.

To this day I am amazed by works of art the Origami community is creating out of a simple sheet of paper. It speaks to my own interests and it's something that I feel is worthwhile sharing with the world. Spreading the joy of Origami has been my objective as a board member for the last 2 years, and with your support I am looking forward to continuing this mission for another term.

Upon becoming a board member, I joined World Origami Days Committee and initiated the World Origami Day Cancellation Mark with the U.S. Post Office in 2007. I organized the cancellation event in New York City and the commemorative postcard mailed to our membership.

I have since stepped up to chair the World Origami Days Committee. This year I am hopeful that we can expand our mission to include a small budget to fund a few local events and produce some promotion material. World Origami Days is a wonderful opportunity to share the love of origami with others and I encourage you to join in the celebration.

Most recently I have worked with the Membership Committee to design the new color Membership Brochure, which I am very excited about. I hope everyone likes it and it encourages fresh faces to join our group.

I try to share the gift of Origami wherever and however I can: by volunteering at the AMNH, by utilizing my professional experience in advertising to promote the organization on a national level, or by simply entertaining a handful of fire evacuated children in my new hometown of Santa Barbara, CA. I will 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.

I am asking for your support so I may have the opportunity to work for another term as I feel I'm just getting warmed up. - Margaret Van Sicklen

Michael Weinstein

The reason I would like to be on the board is that I see a major disconnect between origami and Origami USA. I have the credentials; I've been a member of Origami USA (actually, its predecessor) since Reagan was president and since I had both hair and pimples. My second book just went out to the publishers. I've been folding longer than I have been doing anything else.

This disconnect comes from the observation that there were far more members back in the day, despite the fact that population in the United States was lower. In addition Origami is far better than it's ever been. Back then there were no modular origami models, none of the more complex models available now, no tessellations, fewer books and designs, and far less of everything. So now why, when origami is far better, are there fewer members of the national organization?

The answer is like most things, complex. It is at least in part do to changing times and changes in our society. Like all things we must adapt and change with it. I am from a culture where the person who identifies a problem is the one to fix it. There is clearly a huge interest in origami in the United States; the display at the Mingei Museum was supposed to last a few weeks, it ran over a year. Between the Folds, the origami documentary, has been showing to sellout crowds. My chief aims are to use the resources of Origami USA to spread origami and attract new folders and new members.

What can we do to initiate origami meetings outside of New York? I have initiated Centerfold, the first Ohio origami retreat, to be held at the Ohio State University in August 2010. I hope to see you there. What can the national organization can do to promote more? I want to find out what Origami USA can do to help the regional groups, which are truly the heart and soul of the organization. What more can members expect to get from their organization? How can origami USA offer more for less? I admit to being short on solid plans; I won't make promises I can't keep. But these are the things that occupy my attention; this is why I want on board the board.