Summer 2021 – President General Message

Summer 2021 – President General Message

Dear Dames,


Thank you for a warm welcome and for your expressions of support. Many of the Dames have reached out to me to express their enthusiasm for various initiatives or to invite me to visit. Between now and March, I have scheduled upcoming trips to Chapter XXXIX Birmingham, Chapter XXIV Atlanta, Chapter XVII Palm Beach, and Chapter XXIX North Carolina, and I look forward to more visits over my three year term.


In June, we held a Zoom for the Chapter Presidents with Anna Rich and Lauren Rose, our Museum Benefit Chairmen, to solicit input from chapters on the upcoming Virtual Benefit Tea. I was delighted that 20 chapters were represented.


Under the supervision of Past President General Brantley Knowles, CDA’s Facebook page has continued to entertain, inform, and bring our community together in the knowledge of the talents and accomplishments of our members. The page, impressively, now has over 1800 followers.


Although in-person visits to the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum have been severely limited by the pandemic, the Museum has had a robust program of virtual tours and events, including a well-attended Hearst Fellowship program. At the July Symposium, Jolie Vanier, a Chapter XXV Phoenix third-generation Dame and University of Oregon student, discussed the emergence of the furniture industry in early America, focusing on immigrant cultures’ contributions to style. Sofia Altherr, of Trinity College, delivered a history of the textile industry with a focus on women’s roles as workers and consumers. Both were fascinating (I learned a lot!). We are also thrilled to report that the high school intern program this summer was a great success with 15 participants.


I regret that, after 13 years of dedicated service, Terri Daly, the Director of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum (MVHM), resigned for personal reasons. Terri worked tirelessly, taking care of our historic building, garden, and collection, and running excellent programs for school children, our members and the local community. She successfully secured the confidence of departments at the local, state and federal levels, which resulted in many grants for Museum programs and operations. She will be missed.


I want to assure our members that steps are being taken, with Terri’s full participation, to ensure the Museum will continue to fulfill the Society’s mission. The Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by Evelyn Aucoin, and Museum Committee, chaired by Brantley Knowles, will be working this fall to respond to the new environment of the post-pandemic world. It is an exciting time in the world of museums. The silver lining of Covid has been the increase of our virtual programming which has been well received in schools and by the chapters. We will be looking at ways to expand the reach of programs, especially to communities that do not have historic house museums as old as MVHM, to make sure that our investment in educational programming has the widest possible impact.


I want to thank Deborah McWilliams, Executive Director, and Assistant Director Nicole Scholet. We are fortunate to have such dedication at CDA. Both have done a masterful job of navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic as well as our transitions at the Museum.


I wish each of you much happiness and good health and hope to see you at the October 23rd Virtual Benefit Tea supporting the Museum.


With warm regards,


Rebecca Howard Madsen

CDA President General 2021-2024