Soroptimist’s 45th Biennial Convention
Yokohama was the location for the 45th Biennial Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA) Convention. The theme of the convention was Stars Dreams and Wishes. Throughout the conference many members had written haiku poems on the theme and they were read throughout the 4-day event.
Over 1,900 individuals met in Yokohama where the members reviewed the work of the clubs from the US, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico. Guam. Central America and South American for the years 2016-2018. Below are the final credentials for the meeting:
Clubs in federation:
Clubs in good standing:
Federation Board of Directors:
Past federation presidents:
Soroptimists from other federations:
Staff (SIA and region):
Total Number of Attendees:
Additionally, there were many opportunities to visit the sites of, not only Yokohama, but Tokyo, Nagoya, and other areas of Japan.
Although Japan was experiencing a heat wave with very high humidity, none of the Soroptimists allowed this to hamper the opportunity to see the sites and spend time with other Soroptimists from other regions.
The Soroptimists met to solidify the dream programs that are the main focus of Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA) – Live Your Dream and Dream It Be It.
Our own Region, Camino Real, had 28 representatives and shined receiving 3 awards including the Outstanding Region Award during the 4-day event.
The next Biennial SIA conference will be held in Bellevue Washington in 2020.
Our Dream programs are:
- Live Your Dream – During the conference three women were awarded grants for $25,000. The grants were donated by the Torrid Company who are supporters of Soroptimist International of the Americas.
- Dream It Be It – a program for girls in the 8th through the 12th grades who desire to have a more positive outlook on life with assistance in identifying their dreams for the future. During the conference a group of young ladies were presented that are participating in the program through the Yokohama Club.
Another program that was presented during the conference was the Diamond Campaign. Attached is information on this campaign including goals and timeframe.
Although there were no issues up for a vote this year, there has been a discussion on the fact that, based on the present By-laws, individuals have been concerned that they do not have the opportunity to vote for all Board Members. This was not an official vote but the question was asked, “Would your club be in favor of changing SIA Elections to permit all clubs in good standing to vote for all board members. Yes or No?
Before the vote, all delegates had an opportunity to speak and give their opinions. Presently clubs vote only for board members being elected from their areas. The comments were that, although it might be nice to be able to vote for everyone, the consensus was that only individuals in the area would know the background and experience of those running for office. Even though bios are provided, that may not give enough information to show ability to do the work.
Based on a show of hands from all registered delegates the majority vote was, no. There was no official count but it appeared there were more no votes.
The next International Conference will be in Malesia. The Soroptimists from Malesia presented a very impressive presentation showing many of the lovely sites of Kuala Lumpur. The convention will be held July 2019.
Another key concern for SIA is giving. Therefore, a panel was made up of Kim Kurowski, Ana Marie LeNoue, Kelly Fogarty with Cheri Fleming, a past SiA President, as the moderator. All were members of the Camino Real group. They provided many inventive ideas on how to increase participation on the Laurel Society.
There were many inspirational speakers including the mayor of Yokohama, Fumiko Hayashi, a woman who was raised by a single parent and rose to be the head of two major industries before taking on the position of mayor.
We had the opportunity to break up into workshops to discuss the many issues that our clubs encounter, such as:
- Identifying recipients for our dream programs
- How to raise more money for our programs
- How to encourage more members
- More inventive club formats
Women from all over SIA had the opportunity to hear others’ methods of attacking these problems and sharing their successes and failures.
There were also cultural event workshops offered on the first day for:
- Tea Ceremony
The closing banquet was very impressive with a Japanese drum presentation. Additionally, the new region governors were presented and the new SIA President, Elizabeth Di Geronimo spoke and showed videos of congratulations from her family and friends.
Many Soroptimists were in their native dress, which was very impressive, as well as being very colorful.
The following day there was a dragon dance where the dragon weaved throughout the crowd allowing for many members to be able to interact with the dragon.
Many photos were taken during the conference. They are represented in the gallery at the top of this page.
After the conference, the members of Camion Real all met for a final lunch at the Yokohama Hard Rock Café. See photos on the website.
The next Biennial SIA conference will be held in Bellevue, Washington in 2020