2021 CDA Annual Meeting

2021 CDA Annual Meeting



The 2021 CDA Annual Meeting was held both remotely and in-person at a private historic venue in Palm Beach, Florida. Prior to the Annual Meeting, the Southeast chapters held a Regional Luncheon and a Welcome Dinner. Additionally, President General Brantley Knowles hosted a luncheon to honor the Board of Managers.


Members may view more Annual Meeting documents, including the official program, in the Member Library.


Photographs from in-person events can be viewed and ordered.


Watch the captioned video recording of the Annual Meeting. 



To commemorate the end of her term , Brantley Knowles organized and underwrote a luncheon for the incoming and outgoing Board of Managers at a historic venue in Palm Beach.

Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART


Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART



On Sunday, May 2nd, a welcome dinner was held at a private club in Palm Beach for attendees to the Southeast Regional gathering the following day.


Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART



Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART

At the May 3rd Regional Luncheon, Charlotte Christian, Chairman of the Liaison Committee and President of Chapter XXIV – Atlanta, led the gathering.


Part of the Liasion Committee’s mission is to foster Regional Meetings that bring together leaders and members from chapters in the same geographic region for fellowship and lively exchange of ideas. Future regional gatherings are planned to continue fostering CDA’s community of Dames.

Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART



Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART


Immediately following the Regional Luncheon, the Society’s 130th Annual Meeting was held on Monday, May 3rd, both in-person and via video conference. After the meeting was opened by President General Brantley Knowles, a video celebrating 130 years of CDA was debuted [View video here].


The business of the Society was conducted, with reports delivered both in-person and remotely by Committee Chairmen.


Members were encouraged to make plans to attend the 2021 Fall Benefit, which will be held virtually on October 23rd at 4 pm ET.



Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART


This year, a record seventeen Dames were presented Van Rensselaer Awards for their service to their chapters and the Society:


Parent Chapter: Catherine Coleman Brawer
Chapter II – Philadelphia: Jane Mitchell Eppley
Chapter III – Washington, DC: Catherine Nelson Ball
Chapter V – San Francisco: Elaine Dorothea Oldham

Chapter VIII – Houston: Iris Louise Collins Eaton
Chapter XIV – Chicago: Sharon Hare
Chapter XV – Jackson, Mississippi: Ann Atkinson Simmons
Chapter XXII – Michigan: Rosemary Vandeveer Baldwin
Chapter XXIV – Atlanta: Helen Henry Rogge
Chapter XXIX – North Carolina: Marie Young Thiele
Chapter XXXIII – Georgia Piedmont: Dorothy “Dotty” Elizabeth Harris Zazworsky
Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara: Ruth Arlene Yockey Loper


Special awardees in honor of CDA’s 130th Anniversary:


Barbara Cecelia Shea Bispham – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Annette Louise Longnon Geddes – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Courtney Garland Iglehart – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Nancy Ruth Shackelford Jones – Past President General, Parent Chapter
Brantley Bolling Knowles – Past President General, Chapter XVII – Palm Beach


Nominations for the Van Rensselaer Award are submitted by respective chapters. The award is named in honor of Maria Denning “May” King Van Rensselaer (Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer), a founder of The Colonial Dames of America.



The Society’s chapters engage in historic preservation and education projects around the world. The CDA Award for Excellence, initiated by Past President General Helen Evans, is bestowed annually upon one or more chapters and awards up to $1000 in support of outstanding chapter projects.


The 2021 Award for Excellence recipient was announced as Chapter XIV – Chicago. Proceeds will enable the chapter to contribute towards the expansion and refurbishment of the lobby and reception area of the National Museum of the American Sailor, located in the historic “Hostess House” at the Great Lakes Navy base. Chapter President Sharon Hare gracefully and gratefully accepted the award on her chapter’s behalf.



Book Award Chairman Audrey Svensson announced this year’s Annual Book Award recipients, which marks the 70th year of the program. Author H.W. Brands was awarded the Annual Book Award this year for Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West.


The Book Award Citation was given to David Michaelis for Eleanor and the Young Readers’ Award went to author Susan Campbell Bartoletti and illustrator Ziyue Chen for How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and Their Big Idea.


The Colonial Dames of America Book Awards, first presented in 1951, continue to recognize worthy books on subjects pertaining to American history, life and material culture. Read more about the 2021 Book Award winners. 



Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART

During the President General’s report, Brantley Knowles reviewed the Society’s many achievements over her three-year term. Highlights included the successful campaign to restore and rededicate CDA’s historic entrance gates at Jamestown, a streamlined and simplified claims process, the Colonial Women of Distinction initiative, refreshed and historically accurate insignia, an expanded social media presence, as well as the continued and enhanced fulfillment of the Society’s mission for education and historic preservation. Read her full report here.



Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART

Sharon Vaino, Past President General, and this year’s Nominating Committee Chairman, came forward to read the slate.


The 2021-22 officers of the Board of Managers were announced:


  • President General, Rebecca Howard Madsen
  • First Vice President, Pegi Ivancevich
  • Second Vice President, Kathi Chulick
  • Treasurer, Evelyn Aucoin
  • Recording Secretary, Laurie Aldinger
  • Corresponding Secretary, Sandra Pearl



Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART

Past President General Ellie Penniman, the most senior Past President General present, was then called forward to install the new President General. Ellie bestowed the refurbished President General insignia, complete with its 22 diamonds donated by the first 22 CDA chapters, on incoming President General Rebecca Madsen. The historic Tiffany gavel was then passed from outgoing President General Brantley Knowles to Rebecca.


Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART


The Annual Meeting was then turned over to the Society’s 39th President General Rebecca Madsen, who thanked Brantley for her incredible service, dedication, and generosity over her three year term. On behalf of CDA’s Board of Managers, Rebecca presented Brantley with the Past President General diamond star and a generous donation to the Society in Brantley’s name.


Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART


Rebecca then closed the meeting using the historic Tiffany gavel, concluding the 2021 Annual Meeting.


Carrie Bradburn/CAPEHART