Betsey Mills Corporation Board seeks new members

Photo by Michael Kelly
Cat Bigley, fitness instructor at the Betsey Mills Club, practices tai chi in a room at the club after a noon-hour class.

Photo by Michael Kelly Cat Bigley, fitness instructor at the Betsey Mills Club, practices tai chi in a room at the club after a noon-hour class.

MARIETTA — An old institution in Marietta is looking for people to help guide its future.

The Betsey Mills Corporation Board is inviting applications for new members to sit on the board, board president Laura Rush said. The board composition was changed in December 2016, reduced from 13 to 15 members to between seven and 11, she said.

The change becomes effective for 2018, so the new board structure will govern the annual elections in December.

The corporation is the umbrella body that oversees the Betsey Mills Club, a social and recreational club founded in 1918, and The Castle, an 1855 Gothic-revival house at 418 Fourth St. that has been repurposed as a museum and a venue for education and activities.

The club and the castle have separate boards, which receive guidance from the corporation board.

Board member Carol Steinhagen said the new governance structure is a chance for the organization to revitalize.

“It’s a chance to put things in order, to set a new outlook,” she said, noting that for 2018 the code of ordinances specifies a new board.

Existing board members can reapply, she said. The new structure calls for one-third of the board to be affiliated with the club, one-third with The Castle and the remaining members to be from the community, without ties to either the club or The Castle.

“It’s an opportunity for a clean slate,” Rush said.

She said the new structure eliminates the requirement for board members representing Marietta College and the First Congregational Church, both institutions historically affiliated with the Betsey Mills corporation. Representatives from the college and the church still are welcome in an advisory role, she said, but will no longer have voting positions on the board.

The Betsey Mills Club was founded in 1911 as the Girls’ Monday Club, an outgrowth of a sewing club Betsey Mills and other Marietta women started in 1898. The Castle was added to the organization in 1991 when the property owner Stewart Bosley died and left the property to the club.

The club now has more than 400 members, executive director Joceyln Adelsperger said. Its scope of offerings to the community has evolved over time, and club members can now use its heated pool, take fitness classes, enroll their children in state-licensed child care and preschool programs, learn ballroom dancing, bring their dogs to obedience classes and engage in numerous other program offerings.

The facilities also are available to rent for events and dorm rooms are still rented to women new to Marietta who are in need of accommodation.

“The needs and desires of community members determine what classes and activities are offered,” according to the 2016 annual report.

Steinhagen said she hopes the new board structure will address some differences that have arisen over the years between the club and The Castle.

“There have been some tensions and challenges over the years,” she said, and the new structure, with its mix of club, Castle and nonmembers, should give the organization new perspectives by adding “people who don’t have history with either division.”

“The best thing that could happen is that there would be development of some common ground between the two divisions, a greater sense of common purpose,” she said.

The revenue stated for 2016 in the corporation’s annual report was $684,575.24, which was about $49,000 short of expenses. Time is running short for anyone interested in a decision-making role on the board of the organization, which employs about 50 people at the club and The Castle. Deadline for applications is Oct. 13, and the forms are available by calling the club at 740-373-4981.

Rush said the board meets every other month for one to two hours on the third Monday of the month and each board member must be on at least one of the board’s standing committees.

“The committees meet once or twice a month for about an hour,” she said.

Board membership applications include a statement of qualifications, she said. Anyone can apply but the corporation is especially interested in people who have financial, legal or other professional qualifications and some nonprofit experience.

The board has no requirements for residency but Rush said they are seeking applicants who have some knowledge about and interest in the club.

“We’re looking for engaged people who are interested in helping a unique organization that continues to do great things for the area,” she said.

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Betsey Mills at a Glance

Governance: Governed by the board of directors of the Betsey Mills Corporation, which provides guidance to the boards overseeing the Betsey Mills Club and The Castle.

History:

* Founded in 1916 by Betsey Mills.

* Present building dedicated in 1927 and donated to the community by Betsey’s husband, William Mills.

* The Castle at 418 Fourth St. donated to the club in 1991 by Steward Bosley.

* Major renovation project, including HVAC, locker rooms and a copper roof undertaken in 2010 and completed in 2016.

* New code of regulations adopted in 2016 that will change the structure of the corporate board effective in 2018.

Get involved: The organization is seeking new board members to serve starting in 2018. The deadline for applications is Oct. 13. Call 740-373-4981 for information.

Source: The Betsey Mills Corporation

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