Sign On Letter
Update: This was sent to the board 6/21/20 signed by 70 NOW leaders but is still open to collecting more responses and will be shared with the National NOW board biweekly.
The signers of this letter represent people who over the last five decades have worked in positions at the chapter, state, and national levels of NOW. Front and center for all of us is the immense value of NOW’s good name or brand. We know that we need it to bring in members, to raise money, to work with coalition partners, to influence elected officials both in legislative and judicial work, and to expand our political reach through our Political Action Committees and their work. Our good name also enables to draw interns and staff of the highest caliber to our National Office in Washington DC. We need good press coverage – unearned media – to spread our message.
We have been shocked -- and in many cases, angered – to read in two online publications and know that many will follow including network and cable news that you have engaged on numerous occasions throughout the three years of your term in behavior that does not in any way advance the objectives and goals outlined above.
In your office as President of NOW, you have, from the beginning, and repeatedly, violated the trust that we all place in our NOW elected officers. Multiple sources for these charges include former staff and officers, and present and former leaders and activists. They are coming forward describing comments and behavior that include you making racist comments, engaging in abhorrent treatment of staff and officers who are people of color. The press release you sent out concerning the death of George Floyd was nothing short of horrible. You have also damaged coalition relationships with rude and disrespectful behavior. You have treated staff and interns with rudeness, engaging in actions toward personnel that are frankly embarrassing. You have violated NOW policy in countless way, one of the most notable being that you have repeatedly hired personal friends and family, and including members of NOW’s National Board in order to cover up these behaviors.
The publication of these charges comes at a time when the entire nation is looking to organizations and institutions they trust to show that we are much better than the evil that is bubbling over from elected officials and law enforcement toward – especially -- people of color. Current NOW leaders are wondering who will want our PAC endorsements leading up to the November elections. They are also very worried that the membership boon that usually comes for NOW with current and political events in these situations will not materialize. Why should it? Opportunities to add diversity to our membership and leadership by showing our commitment to ending racism will simply not happen. Failure of our direct mail marketing means evaporation of funds which will lead to heavy debt and probably staff cuts in the coming months.
This situation is unprecedented in NOW’s history. It is not the fault of some disgruntled interns, or people who supported your opponents in previous NOW election cycles. It is yours, Toni, and yours alone.
We believe that in order to move forward, to correct and reverse some of the horrible press we are getting and to move forward with needed organizational structural reforms, you must resign your position, and we are adding our voices to National Board Members, and State Presidents in calling on you to do that. Please show your commitment to NOW by submitting your resignation as NOW’s president to our National Board immediately.
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