5.9.17 – CDA Annual Meeting in NYC

5.9.17 – CDA Annual Meeting in NYC

The 127th Annual Meeting of the CDA was held the weekend of April 29-May 1, 2017 in Manhattan. President General Sharon Vaino presided over three days of activities centered around The Colonial Dames of America and the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, wholly owned and operated by the CDA and directed by Terri Daly. Deborah Spaeder Mc Williams is Executive Director of CDA.

On Friday, April 28, PG Vaino hosted a pre-meeting tea at a private club to honor members of the 1890 Society, recognizing those who have donated a minimum of $1890 to the CDA during the fiscal year 2016-2017. The 1890 Society was introduced in 2015 to mark the 125th anniversary of CDA, which was founded in 1890 and is the oldest women’s lineage society focusing on the colonial period.

The official activities of the weekend began with the Executive Council Meeting on Saturday, April 29, where chapter presidents, delegates, Board of Managers members, and Committee Chairs gathered to hear reports of the chapters. Chapter VIII-Houston presented the Society with a check for $2,500, earmarked for the Museum’s window restoration project. New CDA chapters were welcomed and recognized: Chapter XXXVIII – Santa Barbara, represented by Chapter President Kathi Chulick, and Chapter XXXIX – Birmingham, AL, represented by Chapter President Connie Grund.


The President’s Award for Excellence Dinner followed at the Yale Club. Jeanette Wortham, who was unable to attend in 2016, presented a report from Chapter IX – Lexington, Ky, which won the $1000 award in 2016. The 2017 President’s Award was accepted by Ann Simmons on behalf of Chapter XV – Mississippi, which she serves as President.

On Sunday morning, participants were led on a walking tour of lower Manhattan by James Kaplan, president of the Lower Manhattan Historical Society. The tour commemorated the first inauguration of President George Washington, which took place in New York on April 30, 1789. The CDA’s Annual Meeting is always held on the weekend closest to April 30 to honor the first President of the United States.


The always popular Garden Party was held in the gardens of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, an oasis in the heart of Manhattan. Almost two hundred guests enjoyed the spring plantings, along with refreshments and the opportunity to tour the museum. A silent auction of wine, whiskey and extra virgin olive oil donated by international CDA chapters raised funds to support the museum’s window restoration project.

The Annual Meeting and Book Awards luncheon was held on Monday, May 1, at a private club. The day began with round table discussions concerning claims, Society real estate, and strategic planning. During lunch, the CDA Book Awards were presented by Chair Audrey Svensson and her committee to Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway by Michael Riedel, a Citation to The Mathews Men by William Geroux, and the Youth Award to Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock. Book Award Winner Michael Riedel gave an entertaining and informative keynote speech about the impact of Broadway and the NY theater on the City of New York during the economic downtown that hit the city in the 1970s. More about the Book Awards…

The President General called the Annual Meeting to order and the business of the Society was conducted, including the election of the Board of Managers and reports of the Committees, PG Vaino then presented her own recognition gift of a specially colored version of the CDA Garden Scarf to those who have contributed more than $5,000 to CDA during the Fiscal Year 2016-2017. Recipients included Cathy Brawer, Brantley Carter Knowles, Rebecca Madsen, Paula Neal, Dianne Robinson, Beverley Sherrid, Kathleen Elizabeth Springhorn, Sharon Vaino, and Diandra Wood.

The Van Rensselaer Awards, proposed by individual chapters for outstanding service and named for CDA Founder Maria King Van Rensselaer, were awarded to Barbara Carpenter of Chapter III – Washington and Martha Ellen Holman Wright of Chapter XXIV – Atlanta. More about The Van Rensselaer Awards…

All attendees were presented a copy of the recent Social Register Observer article, written by Sharri Whiting De Masi, Communications Chair. The article focused on the 2016 Fall Benefit, which honored the late Marjorie Merriweather Post, a Dame in the Palm Beach chapter; and the Society’s Archives and their preservation. Download SRO article (10 MB .pdf)… 

CDA Executive Director Deborah Spaeder MacWilliams and her staff were praised for their outstanding work in organizing the meeting.

The Annual meeting was adjourned at 2 pm.