The Women's Coalition of Milwaukee, 1972-1987
© 1987 by J. M. Dombeck aka Jamakaya. All rights reserved.

Chapter Two
Crisis and Reorganization

The early successes of the Task Force on Battered Women coincided with a period of crisis for the Women's Coalition as a whole. Increasing ideological debate, staff conflict, reduced funding, and lack of organizational focus paralyzed the organization in 1976. A fire in November that year added physical damage to the Coalition's already weakened organizational structure. Ultimately, a handful of dedicated volunteers emerged to give the Coalition new direction. They launched a reorganizational drive which restructured the Women's Coalition and paved the way for ambitious new programs in 1978 and 1979.

An intense self-scrutiny and self-criticism of the internal dynamics of the women's movement emerged among Coalition activists in 1975 and 1976. On Women's Equality Day in 1975, the Coalition sponsored a series of "Movement Dialogues" which revealed the growing ideological debate.1 Attended by about 30 activists from the Coalition and its member groups, the Dialogues focused on three topics. "Lesbian and Straight Women: Are We in the Same Movement?" centered on the different lifestyles and organizational priorities of activists and examined the viability of "women only" events. "Power" focused on leadership in the movement. Some women questioned the patriarchal model of hierarchical organizations with leader/followers, and endorsed collective responsibility for decision-making as an alternative. "The Women's Movement: Vision and Reality" explored individual ideals and expectations versus the reality of hard work and political conflict within the movement.2

The August 26th Dialogues marked the appearance of divisions within the Women's Coalition organization which became more pronounced in the next few years. The lesbian- straight split grew, with each group alternately defensive or assertive about the social and political implications of its sexual preference. This conflict often expressed itself in debates over whether Coalition events should be opened or closed to men. Some lesbians insisted on their right to events without men, while some of their straight sisters viewed this policy as discriminatory. The feminist critique of patriarchal power and leadership contributed to staff conflict in 1976 and resulted in a restructuring of the Coalition along principles of collectivity and worker control. A broader conflict between advocates of pragmatic reform of existing society and proponents of an alternative women's culture caused lively and sometimes acrimonious debate for years to come.3

(Pictured at left are Judy Greenspan and Rosemary Caravella in a defiant pose outside the Women's Coalition for Women's Strike Day in 1975.)

Increasing ideological debate combined with personnel problems to make 1976 a difficult, transitional year for the Women's Coalition. By 1976, many original founding members of the Coalition moved on to other endeavors. Those who remained experienced varying degrees of burn-out, exhaustion from years of steady volunteer work. These personnel problems contributed to an open conflict between paid staff members early in the year. Disagreements revolved around the decision-making process and who was ultimately in charge of the Coalition's daily operations.4 Cathy Mason, the Coalition bookkeeper, recalled the conflicts at the time:

We were operating without any rules. Anytime someone suggested better structure or lines of authority, they were shot down ... We were trying to find new ways to operate that didn't emulate male authority systems, but we ended up alienating each other and drowning in the rhetoric...5

Mason also identified a deeper contradiction undermining the Coalition:

The ideology of the movement which stressed independence worked against the cohesiveness of the organization.6

In May 1976, the Board of Directors fired the Coalition's Director, Virginia Ray. The internal conflicts and the dismissal of Ray left bitter, unresolved feelings among all parties involved.7 When the Task Force on Battered Women moved to its new location in late 1976, it drew away remaining staff as well as many volunteers who worked at the Coalition and often helped with other activities. With recent proposals emphasizing the battered woman project, funding for general operations of the Coalition, always precarious at best, was neglected. Moreover, there was no major issue at hand to replace battered women as the focus of Coalition programming, despite a Board policy of initiating at least one new project yearly to allow for a steady cycle of activism and funding. By November 1976, the Women's Coalition found itself low on money, short on staff, and lacking a central organizational focus.8

During the early morning hours of November 9, 1976, in what Nova Clite described as a "strange purge" of the accumulated tension and negative energy, a fire caused extensive damage to the building which housed the Women's Coalition.9 A cigaret left smoldering in the trash started the fire which did $7,000 worth of damage. Building repairs took months, and the Coalition was unable to open its office to provide meeting space and other services until March 1977.10

Concerned women met in emergency meetings throughout the Winter of 1976-77 to determine the future of the Women's Coalition. Discussions centered on whether the Coalition should be dissolved so that an entirely new organization could take its place. Some women advocated the establishment of a broader based women's center which would be less overtly feminist and political in its programming. Advocates hoped this new women's center would draw wider community support and attract more consistent funding for staff and programs if reincorporated as an official 501(c)3 charitable organization, a change in the Coalition's non-profit status which would permit tax-deductible donations, but limit its political activity. The Board appointed a Transition Committee to investigate the legal and financial implications of converting to a women's center. The Board also formed an Evaluation Committee to assess the structure, programs, and achievements of the Coalition's first four years. The results were expected to serve as a constructive guide for either revamping the Coalition or planning an entirely new center.11

While the flurry of community meetings and new committees gave the impression of renewed commitment and energy, the reality proved different. The Women's Coalition always depended primarily on volunteers to sustain its operations. In times of clear direction, with specific programs and tasks coordinated by a small core of paid staff, volunteers were recruited and trained with relative ease. In the crisis situation of 1976-77, with the Coalition questioning its very existence, volunteers were easily discouraged. As the difficult job of restructuring and re-establishing the credibility of the Coalition became evident, volunteers felt overwhelmed, and many drifted away. Recognizing the Transition Committee as ineffective, the Board of Directors dissolved it in 1977. The Evaluation Committee repeatedly delayed presenting its final report to the Board; there is no record of the Committee's results. Restructuring the Women's Coalition was postponed while the main concern in 1977 was ensuring the Coalition's survival. After repairs to the fire damage, the Coalition reopened its doors in March. With no paid staff and the lengthy interruption in services, however, staffing and programming were intermittent.12

The gradual upswing in Coalition activities can be credited to the energies of a veteran NOW activist, Phyllis Rodin. Rodin was working toward a graduate degree in Educational Psychology at UWM in 1977. Concerned with women's issues and aware of the Coalition's crisis, she volunteered her services and, within the existing vacuum of leadership, effectively became the Director of the Coalition. Rodin filled a work-study slot and hired two other interested students that Summer. Together, they re-established office hours, assumed monthly publication of the Coalition's newsletter, Common Ground, and organized a series of workshops on assertiveness training and women's legal rights.13 Rodin also rallied the Coalition and local feminists into support for Jennifer Patri, a battered woman who faced murder charges in the death of her husband.14

By mid-Summer 1977, the Women's Coalition became a center of activity again, sponsoring programs, aiding member groups, and attracting new (and old) volunteers. July also marked the return of Virginia Ray, the charismatic organizer dismissed by the Coalition Board the previous year. Staff members recognized Ray for her "expertise" and "unbelievable know-how," and the Board charged her with staff training and reorganization.15 Ray's return was important for several reasons. Her reputation as an effective and dynamic organizer brought an influx of volunteers and new ideas to the Coalition. Also, Ray organized a September retreat which eventually resulted in the long-awaited restructuring of the Women's Coalition. Furthermore, Milwaukee's Social Development Commission accepted a proposal, drafted by Rodin and Ray, for three full-time CETA positions. These job slots secured its revival and provided the Coalition with a stable staff for the next three years. By Fall 1977, the Women's Coalition overcame the crisis of confidence wrought by fire the previous year. Its prospects for future funding and programs looked good.16

The Reorganizational Task Force

Fifteen women participated in a special weekend retreat held September 16-18, 1977 to plan the reorganization of the Women's Coalition. Lengthy discussions focused on past programs, purposes, and structural problems of the organization. Participants committed themselves to working as a collective, utilizing consensus decision-making rather than majority rule. The Retreat Collective sought recognition from the Board of Directors that Fall as the Coalition's official Reorganizational Task Force.17

Criticism of the Coalition's organizational structure had existed for several years. At a Board retreat in 1976, Nova Clite identified the central problem: "A coalition of member groups can't manage a women's center."18

The governing body of the Coalition, the Board of Directors, was composed of one representative of each member group and met monthly to oversee Coalition activities. This simple structure sufficed in the first year or so when sharing group information and meeting space were the Coalition's prime concerns. As the Coalition's work expanded, encompassing new projects and funding sources, its administrative responsibilities multiplied. The growing work load required the commitment of Board members with specific managerial skills. Because Board members were never compensated monetarily, and because they held dual responsibilities to their own member groups and to the Coalition (as well as to family and workplace), consistent 1eadership and direction from the Board was often lacking. Board members were appointed by virtue of their membership in Coalition groups, rather than for any specific managerial or leadership skills. Rapid turnover in Board membership also contributed to its weakness. Evidence of this lies in the number of special committees set up by the Board which never finished assigned tasks, such as the aforementioned Transition and Evaluation Committees. A committee to revise Coalition bylaws formed as early as 1975, but changes were not implemented until 1979.19

Conversely, some staff members resented what they viewed as arbitrary decisions by the usually passive Board of Directors. The Board's 'hands off' management style allowed staff great discretion in daily operations. As operations expanded, however, responsibilities grew, and both paid employees and volunteers felt overwhelmed and unappreciated. When staff presented reports to the Board, Board criticisms of certain expenditures or priorities created conflict. Since staff members did virtually all the daily work and initiated all the new programs, they resented what they perceived as interference by the usually detached Board. Prior to her dismissal in 1976, Virginia Ray had repeatedly encouraged the Board to clarify its relationship to the staff and projects. Although not yet articulated as such, the desire for "worker control" of policy and decision-making spread among Coalition staff members in 1975 and 1976.20

Within this context of an ineffective Board of Directors and recurrent Board-staff conflict, the Retreat Collective restructured the Coalition in late 1977 and 1978. In their initial zeal to reform the Coalition, the Collective proposed to dissolve the Board "...because the Board is generally conspicuous by its absence ... its effectiveness is minimal."21 Collective members suggested that representatives of the staff and volunteers compose the Board, rather than the often disinterested representatives of member groups. Not surprisingly, the current Board of Directors was suspicious of the new Collective's plans and motives. Despite Board endorsement, only one current and one past member of the Board attended the September retreat. As a result, Board members felt excluded and threatened by what they perceived as an attempt to undercut their positions and leadership. They voiced their skepticism at the November meeting in which the Retreat Collective presented its ideas and sought official recognition as the Coalition's Re-organizational Task Force. This request reinforced the Board's perception of Collective members as 'outsiders.'22

Where Board meetings in recent years barely attained a quorum of six representatives, forty to fifty women attended the November meeting. They engaged in lively debate over the structure and future direction of the Coalition. Collective member Karen Snider declared: "Had we not started this agitation, we would not have had this response."23 The request for official recognition, granted in a telephone poll following the November meeting, was merely a formality since many members of the Collective were becoming active volunteers in various programs of the Coalition. While still skeptical, the Board found it could not ignore this influx of new volunteers and energy; the Coalition needed it to rebuild. Debate over its proposed reforms continued, but the Collective's immediate impact re-energized the Coalition. The large group of women activated at this time sustained the Women's Coalition for the next five years.24

The Retreat Collective, now recognized as the Coalition's Re-organizational Task Force, met throughout 1978. They discussed, designed, discarded, and revised various structural models for the organization. Common Ground published a summary of principles guiding the adoption of a new structure. They revealed the results of the intense ideological debate that dominated activists at the Coalition in the previous years. They also articulated the Coalition's philosophy and goals as it entered its seventh year:

1. The Women's Coalition ... should operate collectively, through consensus decision-making ... the ideal form of organization for a feminist group. Consensus decision-making is a decision-making process in which all parties involved agree to the final decision. This does not mean all parties are necessarily completely satisfied with the final outcome, but that the decision is acceptable to all because no one feels that her vital interests or values have been violated by it ... The commitment to collectivity is based on the recognition that many heads are better than one, and that – by contrast – voting and delegate systems tend to encourage divisions and antagonisms ... it is the best structure for ensuring that the opinions of all are heard, discussed and play a part in the final decision.

2. The Women's Coalition should adhere to the principle of worker control. This means that everyone works for a common purpose and not for a boss. Decisions should be made by those actually doing the work ... if a particular group or committee has undertaken to carry out a specific job, the work they do should not be overturned unless the overturning body ... undertakes to join or assist the committee in carrying out that work in the future ... no group should have the power to demand 'do this' or 'don't do this' unless it is giving orders to itself ... it is the only truly egalitarian system of governance.

3. The Women's Coalition ... should continue to serve primarily as an organizing body. Direct service to clients, although an incidental effect of its operation and its development of new projects, should not be a primary focus. The Women's Coalition can have the greatest impact by generating new projects (and setting them free as soon as they become viable), organizing and participating in coalitions for political change, and reaching out to masses of women to assist them in discovering, materializing and maximizing their power as women.

4. The Women's Coalition ... should adhere to a timelined plan of action. Only by undertaking activities that are not dependent upon specific individuals for their implementation will we be sure that the Women's Coalition will go on functioning as a power in Milwaukee.

5. The Women's Coalition should become a true coalition of groups ... having nine groups represented on our Board gives us clout we would not have as an organization composed solely of individual members. If the Coalition were to live up to the promise of its name – which it can do by having the Board take a more active role – the organization would become even more powerful.25

The structural changes finally implemented by the Women's Coalition covered three areas: the administration of daily operations, revision of bylaws, and re-incorporation with a new tax status. The Board of Directors implemented these changes in 1978 and 1979.

By late 1978, five committees conducted the daily business of the Women's Coalition. The new multi-committee structure reflected the broadening responsibilities of the Coalition and clarified previous confusion over the division of labor and delegation of tasks. Committees were composed of appropriate staff members along with volunteers from the projects, member groups, Board, and community at large. Individual committees exercised substantial autonomy within their own operational area, subject only to the guidance of a larger Coordinating Committee. The Personnel Committee supervised employment matters. The Outreach Committee coordinated educationals and public relations, and published the monthly newsletter, Common Ground. The Administration and Funding Committee dealt with the increased bookkeeping, wrote proposals for new projects and grants, and organized fundraising events. The Feminist Network Committee served as liaison to member groups, encouraging unity and support for common goals and campaigns. Originally, networking was the central purpose of the Coalition. By 1978, it was one aspect of a growing administrative workload.26

To facilitate worker control, at least two representatives of each working committee formed the Coordinating Committee, which was charged with coordination and supervision of the various working components. It is clear from logbooks and minutes that the Coordinating Committee bore the brunt of daily management and decision-making. It allocated resources, made emergency decisions as problems arose, advised individual committees and evaluated their progress, researched new projects, and acted as link between workers, projects, and Board.27

The emphasis on worker control evident in staff reorganization was ultimately incorporated into the Coalition's new bylaws. A Bylaws Committee which included interested staff, volunteers, and Board members met in the Winter and Spring of 1978-79 to discuss and frame a new governing structure. The Board of Directors adopted the revised bylaws in May 1979. The new bylaws redefined and divided membership into four classes with different qualifications and rights. They also altered the composition of the Board of Directors and clarified its role vis a vis the Coalition's staff and working committees.28

The new bylaws defined two classes of individual members. "Worker" members were contractually obligated to participate in one of the Coalition's committees a minimum of thirteen hours per quarter. At the annual meeting, worker members were entitled to vote for three of their representatives to serve on the Board of Directors. This assured direct worker input into the Coalition's governing structure. "Supporting" members were not required to participate in committee work. They could attend and speak, but had no vote at annual meetings. The new bylaws also instituted an annual membership fee, an overdue attempt to raise consistent funds.29

"Regular" and "Project" member groups constituted the third and fourth membership classifications. Since 1973, the Board of Directors consisted of one representative from each member group and project. Multiple commitments and high turnover reduced the effectiveness of this framework. The new bylaws declared member groups, like individual worker members, were entitled to vote at the annual meeting for three representatives to serve on the Board of Directors. This method guaranteed member groups retained input into the Coalition's governing structure. It also eased the previous requirement of each group committing a representative to attend monthly meetings. Project member groups, which the Coalition administered, had a vote only through individual worker members.30

The three workers' and the three member groups' representatives on the Board of Directors selected three additional at-large Board members to serve for a one year term. Bylaws required these nine Board members to meet at least bi-monthly and directed them to exercise "all corporate powers" of the Coalition, which included the signing of legal and financial instruments and approval of an annual budget.31

The bylaws authorized the Board of Directors to delegate its powers to established committees and required the Board to choose three of its members – at least one a worker member – for an Executive Committee. The Executive Committee exercised the Board's powers when it was not in session.

The Executive Committee's attendance at meetings of the Coordinating Committee was mandatory, an important innovation designed to remedy the recurring problem of poor Board-staff communication.32 Georgia Ressmeyer, an author of the bylaws, stated that close cooperation between the Executive and Coordinating Committees was expected to

... break down the division between the Board of Directors, which has legal authority to manage the affairs of the corporation, and the Coordinating Committee, which makes the day-to-day decisions and, in effect, determines the direction of the corporation.33

Although the demand for worker control was incorporated throughout the new structure and bylaws, consensus decision-making, that "ideal form of organization for a feminist group" was not.34

While worker committees and the Coordinating Committee adhered to the often laborious task of patient consensus-building, the bylaws stipulated that the more traditional method of majority rule governed decision-making at annual meetings and by the Board.35

The photo above shows some of the Coalition's movers and shakers at the February, 1980 annual retreat. From l to r they are: Amy Sipe, representing Grapevine, the lesbian support group; Barbara Traczek, Director of the Women's Crisis Line; Ruth Irvings, representing Sojourner Truth House; Debbie Neas of the Task Force on Battered Women; and L. Mandy Stellman, representing Milwaukee N.O.W.

Coalition Wins 501(c)3 Charitable Status

The Board of Directors also reincorporated the Women's Coalition under a new tax status in 1979. While its current non-profit status exempted the Coalition from federal, state, sales, and other taxes, donor contributions were not tax-deductible. The prospect of attracting new and larger funding sources was the primary motivation for change.

Changing the Coalition's tax status was fraught with political implications, however. A memo to the Board by staff members outlined these problems. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defined the Coalition's current tax status, code 50l(c)4, as "civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare."36 The tax code recognized that the objectives of social welfare organizations required legislation and, therefore, permitted lobbying by groups like the Coalition. While increased financial support was the chief advantage of adopting the new 501(c)3 status, under this classification, IRS codes strictly forbade most political activity. The IRS wording was explicit. The 50l(c)3 status was accorded to:

Corporations ... organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary or educational purposes ... no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation, and which does not participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.37

Although stories and positive evaluations of female politicians sometimes appeared in its newsletter, the Women's Coalition carefully avoided endorsing political candidates. Staff and members of the Coalition, however, frequently testified at public hearings and lobbied for relevant legislation, such as the sexual assault and domestic violence reform bills. In the memo, staff warned that adoption of 501(c)3 status meant all endorsements and the content of Common Ground must be closely scrutinized.38

Ultimately, the Coalition Board adopted the new tax status and the Women's Coalition was reincorporated in December 1979 as a 501(c)3 organization.39 The commitment to independent political action was subordinated to the organization's need for economic security. Although the Coalition no longer engaged in political lobbying, it did not abandon other agitational tactics, like the "Take Back the Night" movement launched in 1979.40 In the 1980s, the Coalition received substantial funding from a variety of donors, support which might have been unavailable to the Coalition under its previous tax status.4l

While the Women's Coalition restructured itself to match the realities of its expanding role, it continued to provide a full schedule of programs and services. The Coalition resumed its popular workshops, organized the defense committee of Jennifer Patri, and held annual community events to celebrate International Women's Day (March 8), Mother's Day, and Women's Equality Day. Staff members attended local and national conferences on women, including the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas in November 1977. The Coalition offered formal training in community organizing by Heather Booth of the Midwest Academy, and sponsored membership drives and fundraising events as needed. These activities were in addition to the regular services to member groups and the hundreds of referrals to women who phoned or walked into the Coalition office each week. The influx of volunteers and the acquisition of full-time staff in the wake of the reorganizational drive enabled the Coalition to increase its activity level in the Milwaukee community in the late 1970s.42

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Notes

1 Women's Coalition, Inc., "Milwaukee's 55th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage," Program Book, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August, 1975, p. 4.

2 Nova Clite, "Common Ground," Amazon, October, 1975, pp. 3-4.

3 "Womanspace; A Dialogue," Common Ground, October/November, 1978, p. 12; Interview with Jerri Ralenkotter, member of Coalition Board of Directors (1973-75), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 22, 1987; Mary R. Frank, "Whatever Happened to Women's Liberation?" Amazon, October/November, 1980, pp. 4-8; Kitty Barber, "Another View of Cultural Feminism," Amazon, February/March, 1981, pp. 2-5.

4 Women's Coalition, Inc., Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 7, 1976, p. 2, and Board Retreat Minutes, March 19-21, 1976, p. 2.

5 Interview with Cathy Mason, Women's Coalition bookkeeper (1975-76), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 14, 1987.

6 Ibid.

7 Coalition Board Minutes, April 4, 1976, p. 2, and May 2, 1976, p. 2; Interview with Virginia Ray, Coalition Director (1976), by telephone to Madison, Wisconsin, October 20, 1987; Interview with Nova Clite, Director of the Task Force on Battered Women (1975-77), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, December 21, 1986; Mason, interview.

8 Coalition Board Minutes, January 9, 1977, p. 3, and Board Retreat Minutes, March 19-21, 1976, p. 1; Clite, interview.

9 Clite, interview.

10 "Fire Damages Religious House," Milwaukee Journal, November 9, 1976.

11 "Women's Coalition: Where Is It Going?" Milwaukee Journal, December 9, 1976; Coalition Board Minutes: December 5, 1976, p. 2, January 9, 1977, pp. 2-4, February 6, 1977, p. 2.

12 Coalition Board Minutes: February 6, 1977, pp. 1-2; March 6, 1977, p. 1; April 6, 1977, p. 1.

13 Coalition Board Minutes, April 6, 1977, p. 1, July 12, 1977, p. 1.

Common Ground is the newsletter of the Women's Coalition, first published in January 1976. It was published monthly and later, bi-monthly, as Coalition finances allowed. Common Ground provided coverage of Women's Coalition and member group events.

14 "The Battered Wife – A Classic Example," Common Ground, September, 1977, p. 2.

In 1977, Jennifer Patri of rural Waupaca County, Wisconsin, was charged with murder in the death of her husband, Robert, who had beaten and sexually abused her for years. She was ultimately convicted of manslaughter and served more than three years in prison. Information from "It's Nice to be Home, But It's Scary, Patri Says," Milwaukee Journal, June 4, 1981.

15 Coalition Board Minutes, July 12, 1977, p. 3.

16 "Retreat," Common Ground, August, 1977, p. 9; "CETA! CETA!" Common Ground, October, 1977, p. 2.

17 "The Retreat," Common Ground, September, 1977, pp. 10-11; Coalition Board Minutes, November 13, 1977, p. 4.

18 Coalition Board Retreat Minutes, November 13-14, 1976, p.1.

19 Ibid., pp. 1-2; Clite, interview; Coalition Board Minutes, May 11, 1975, p. 1.

20 Ray, interview; Mason, interview; Coalition Board Minutes, June 1, 1975, pp. 2-3, and September 7, 1975, p.1.

21 "The Retreat," Common Ground, September, 1977, p. 10.

22 Ibid., p. 11; Interview with L. Mandy Stellman, member of Coalition Board of Directors (1977), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 13, 1986; Coalition Board Minutes, November 13, 1977, pp. 3-4.

23 Coalition Board Minutes, November 13, 1977, p. 3.

24 Karen Snyder (sic), "What's Happening at the Women's Coalition?" Common Ground, January/February, 1978, pp. 2-3.

No record exists of the December Board meeting which affirmed the Collective. The Common Ground article confirmed it.

25 "Reflections," Common Ground, November, l978, pp. 4-5.

26 Women's Coalition Reorganizational Task Force, "Proposed New Structure of the Women's Coalition," Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 2, 1978, pp. 3-6.

27 Ibid., p. 4; Women's Coalition, Inc., "Coordinating Committee Log," 3 vol., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November, 1978-June, 1979, July, 1979-July, 1980, July, 1980-February, 1982.

28 Coalition Board Minutes, May 6, 1979, p. 1; Georgia Ressmeyer, "New Bylaws at Last," Common Ground, June/July, 1979, pp. 1-2.

29Women's Coalition, Inc., Revised Bylaws, Article IV, "Members," Article V, "Meetings of the Members," Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1979.

30 Ibid.

31 Coalition Revised Bylaws, Article VI, "Board of Directors: Selection, Term of Office," Article VII, "Meetings of the Board of Directors," Article VIII, "Powers of the Board."

32 Coalition Revised Bylaws, Article X, "Committees."

33 Ressmeyer, "New Bylaws," p. 2.

34 "Reflections," p. 4.

35 Coalition Revised Bylaws, Article V, "Meetings of the Members," Article VII, "Meetings of the Board of Directors."

36 Internal Revenue Service Code of 1954, Section 501, cited in Memorandum to the Board of Directors of the Women's Coalition, "Changing the Tax Status of the Women's Coalition from (c)4 to (c)3, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 28, 1978, p. 2.

37 Ibid., p. 3.

38 Ibid., pp. 9-10.

39 Women's Coalition, Inc., "Restated Articles of Incorporation," Milwaukee, Wisconsin, December 19, 1979, on file with the Secretary of State and the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds.

40 "Inside Take Back the Night," Common Ground, November/December, 1979, p. 2-3.

Feminists coined the phrase "Take Back the Night" to protest crimes against women and to demand safer streets and communities. Editor Laura Lederer in the Introduction to Take Back the Night: Women on Pornography (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980), p. 19, states that the slogan "Take Back the Night" was first used in a national protest march against pornography in San Francisco in 1978. However, as early as October 25, 1975, the Philadelphia Inquirer headlined a story: "West Philadelphia Poised to Take Back the Night." The Philadelphia march was organized by feminists and coincided with a national convention of NOW. Though it is difficult to determine its precise origins, Take Back the Night campaigns led by feminists spread to many communities. The Women's Coalition modeled its protest after recent Take Back the Night events in Cleveland.

41 In the l980s, the Women's Coalition received large grants from the City of Milwaukee and the Ms. Foundation – discussed later in this paper – which may not have been offered under the old tax status.

42 "Celebrate International Women's Day," Common Ground, March, 1979, pp. 1-3; "Mother's Day Action," Common Ground, May/June, 1978, pp. 20-21; "Women's Equality Day Celebration," Common Ground, August, 1978, p. 11; "Workshops and People," International Women's Year – Wisconsin Meeting, June 3-5, 1977, Program Book, Madison, Wisconsin, 1977; "Women's Conference Praised," Milwaukee Sentinel, December 19, 1977; "Heather Booth Training," Common Ground, April/May, 1979, p. 1.

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