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Notes from the Board

News and Reports from the US Servas Board of Directors. The Board  is working to effectively and efficiently support members connecting with others as travelers and hosts as well as with the larger community.

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  • May 25, 2024 1:04 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Graphic announcing Board MeetingBe Part of It - Sat., June 8th!!!  

    US Servas will hold its third video-streamed Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 8th, at 10am Pacific (11 MT, 12 CT, 1pm ET). Last year's meeting was very well received by the 87 members who attended (see article). We are hoping this year's meeting will be equally successful... a three-peat (is that a thing?). 

    You should have already received the personal invitation via email from Dick Weaver, US Servas Board Chair. Consider this a reminder that the Board would like you to be updated on things that have been done during the past year and included in the conversation about what might lie ahead for US Servas. 

    In addition to being informative and a good way to interact with other members, the annual meetings also offer you the opportunity to make meaningful changes to how US Servas operates: its direction and focus, and even specific actions you think it should take.  If you would like to do so, you can propose specific by-law changes, and/or offer motions for other actions you wish the board to take. Do this from the comfort of your home – no transportation or parking worries. 

    REGISTER – click HERE by June 4th and you will get a Zoom link. 

  • March 28, 2024 1:17 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of new board member Vena Rainwater In January the board appointed Vena Rainwater to an interim board position through December 31, 2024. Vena brings the vitality and ideas of a younger member (early 40s) to the board. She holds a BA in Community Development and Economics from Portland State University and works at Amazon as their Inclusion and Equity Program Manager, charged with identifying and eliminating barriers to employment for marginalized people.

    When she was young her family were Servas hosts and travelers. She thought this was amazing and wanted to pursue the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and provide the same experience for her children. Vena joined Servas in 2023 as a Host and Traveler.  

    Vena has served on many local nonprofit boards, and in her work has tech experience. She looks forward to applying these skills and other experience as she serves on the US Servas Board. Vena is an avid cyclist, knitter, and reader. She is a firm believer in feminism and equity. She enjoys camping and travel.
  • January 23, 2024 12:01 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    graphic of keyboard overlaid with US Servas logo and the words "Annual Meeting"US Servas will hold its second video-streamed Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 8th, at 10am Pacific (11 MT, 12 CT, 1pm ET). Last year's meeting was very well received by the 87 members who attended. (see article)We are hoping this year's meeting will be equally successful... a two-peat (is that a thing?). 

    In addition to being informative and a good way to interact with other members, the annual meeting also offers you the opportunity to make meaningful changes to how US Servas operates: its direction and focus, and even specific actions you think it should take.  If you would like to do so, you can propose specific by-law changes, and/or offer motions for other actions you wish the board to take. These must be submitted in writing to on or before March 31, 2024. 

  • January 23, 2024 6:15 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    by Bill Magargal

    US Servas has had a tradition of annual national conferences for quite some time. The volunteers and avid members who attend enjoy meeting other members and learning more about Servas. They are fun and energizing. Attendees give them rave reviews. Our most recent conference this past Fall in NY State was no exception, but even though this successful event had only 78 attendees. That is about 5% of our total membership, even though it was heavily subsidized, well publicized, and near NYC. 

    Conferences require tons of volunteer effort to plan, arrange, and execute. Could our money and limited volunteer hours be put to better use, perhaps organizing local and regional gatherings? Should the US National conference alternate years with the SICOGA International event? Should we plan conferences two or three years in advance to reduce the conference committees' stress levels and to allow more time for members to hold the dates well in advance? Should conferences be held in the Summer when more people, especially younger members, might be able to attend? These are just a few of the questions that need clarification.  

    At this point, the Board has not received any requests from any group interested in hosting a conference in 2024. Given the above questions, and the fact that time is already short for even an experienced group to stage a national event this year, unless someone steps up in the immediate future, we are very unlikely to see a national conference in 2024.

    What are your thoughts with alternating years with SICOGA , or moving to regional events? Please share them with 

  • November 26, 2023 7:20 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Graphic with Servas Logo and photos of new board membersby Natalie Petersen 

    We're pleased to announce the new Directors on the US Servas Board: Leena Desai, Tim Sullivan, Connie Ross, and Kelly Sackheim. They bring a broad range of skills and experience to the table; we look forward to how these will strengthen US Servas. It was exciting to get to know these candidates as we heard their ideas and saw their passion for Servas during the Meet Your Candidates Forum on October 18th. The New Board Member terms begin January 1, 2024.  Desai, Sullivan, and Ross will each serve a three-year term, while Sackheim will serve a one-year term.  

    Leena Desai has been on the Board since 2020 and is currently our treasurer. This is her second term. She has a background in medical research management and has served as treasurer for various nonprofit organizations. She has helped US Servas transition to an all-volunteer organization and to develop the 5-branch structure. With other board members, she has worked to make Servas' finances more transparent, organized, and accountable. She has also been an interviewer for Servas, participated in the Peace & Justice Committee, and is always ready to recruit new member volunteers worldwide. Leena is particularly interested in Servas collaborating with other non-profit organizations.   

    Tim Sullivan has been serving as an interim Board member after serving as an interviewer. He has a background in business and nonprofit finance and  served as chair on a variety of boards. He is interested in expanding membership - particularly to younger and non-typical travelers - through utilizing tools to better understand traveler experiences, developing programs and tools to reach younger and more diverse populations, expanding and supporting US Servas’ relationship with Servas International, developing ways to communicate with and engage members, and actively looking for and implementing new programs to engage in peace and understanding. 

    Connie Ross joins the board with a background in non-profits and education. She has done significant work in the Peace Corps. She became a Servas Member in 1995 and has first-hand experience as a traveler and a host in building peace one contact at a time.  Connie is interested in using her skills and experience within the area of community outreach; particularly with event planning and member services for new members. Additionally,  she has ideas on how technology could be utilized to broaden the Servas membership base.  

    Kelly Sackheim comes to the Board with experience working internationally with national organizations supporting travelers. She served as Board President for the Sacramento Council for International Visitors, and during her tenure led the effort to incorporate as a not-for-profit corporation. Kelly is very involved in sponsoring the travel of citizens and residents of less developed countries to the U.S. She is interested in expanding Servas' volunteer engagement by improving processes, particularly in the area of technology, and exploring Servas' involvement in improving immigration policies.  

    Servas Board members form a dynamic group of passionate, dedicated, and engaged individuals working collectively to fulfill our mission of promoting peace and understanding through travel and hosting. Let’s extend a warm welcome to the newest members of our US Servas Board of Directors!

  • October 25, 2023 9:21 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of Leena Desai, Richard Weaver, and Tim Sullivan at retreatby Lee Rowley

    On October 5th Eileen Rowley hosted the US Servas board planning session at her home in Rhinebeck, NY.The Board worked the entire day reviewing and assessing the current goals of US Servas, as well as designing ways our organization can be more effective moving forward.In recent years the board has made it a practice to spend at least a full day together two or three times each year to accomplish plans and discuss major issues that are not possible to complete during their regular monthly board meetings. 

    Photo of Karen Morian, Leena Desai and Richard WeaverNewly appointed member, Tim Sullivan and his wife, Charlotte, drove 20 hours from Iowa to attend. President, Richard Weaver, flew in from San Diego, CA, Leena Desai from Raleigh, NC, and Karen Morian, recently appointed Peace Secretary, arrived from the Peace Assembly in Spain. Virtual participants included Shyla Esko Barr, Shelley Mitchell, Joanne Ferguson Cavenaugh, and Tys Sniffen. On Friday the 6th all the in-person attendees navigated their way to the National conference at Frost Valley in Claryville, NY. 

  • October 25, 2023 7:27 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of young woman holding the letters V O T EVoting for the US Servas Board of Directors is now open. Voting closes at midnight, October 29th. We have four excellent candidates. Here is a link to a summary of their credentials, and the ballot. Easy-peasy... just enter your name and email address, then four clicks and you are done. Two minutes max.  

    On October 18, Ernie Baragar, moderator for the Board Candidates Forum, opened the event right on time with welcoming and overview of the agenda. He made sure the event went smoothly with the help of timer, Natalie Petersen, and comments reviewer, Bill Magargal. The twenty-six attendees got to hear from each candidate, both during their respective opening remarks. Ernie then asked each candidate to answer each of three questions developed by the elections committee. Each candidate had 90 seconds to answer each of the questions below.    

    1. Image of laptop screen with candidates on it.

      US Servas has been an all-volunteer organization since 2021. Are you involved in helping with Servas operations? If so, how? 

    2. If not, have you done volunteer work for other nonprofits?   

    3. Have you had a chance to talk with any board member to learn about current programs and needs? Whether or not you have done so, where do you believe you can make your best contribution to the current programs and needs of the organization?   

    4. Through Servas, travelers who believe in peace visit hosts who also believe in peace. Do you see a role for Servas as a peace organization beyond the communication that occurs between travelers and hosts? If yes, how do you think Servas can be an agent for peace?    

    All candidates handled themselves well, and all should be good additions to the board.  Be sure to vote. Voting is open now until Midnight, October 29th. here is a link to the ballot webpage.

  • September 15, 2023 2:26 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Futuristic graphic of what shapes the future plus US Servas logoBy Natalie Petersen 

    Servas is a special way of seeing the world as a place where there are no strangers.”Be the change you want to see in the Servas world. There is still time to step up and run for the board. Serving on the board is a great way to shape US Servas and help ensure its long-term success. Here are a few ways you can have an impact by serving. 

    1.  Enrich the Diversity of Leadership - We need candidates from different backgrounds, ages, and regions to provide a more comprehensive and balanced approach to our governance.  

    2. Expand Outreach & Impact - You can help shape strategies that enhance outreach efforts and engagement with a broader audience. Your dedication and fresh ideas can lead to a stronger and more connected Servas community. 
    3. Innovate & Adapt - We need fresh ideas, innovative thinking, and adaptability as our world changes.Be a part of shaping strategies that ensure US Servas remains relevant and responsive to the needs of its members. 

    4. Advocate for Servas Values - US Servas is committed to promoting peace and understanding through cultural exchange. Serving on the board, you'll have the opportunity to support and drive projects and initiatives that embody the spirit of Servas and increase our positive impact.  
    5. Empower Future Generations - As a board member, you’ll play a pivotal role in inspiring and empowering future generations to participate in meaningful cultural exchange and contribute to a more peaceful world. 

    This is a call to action, a call to leadership, and a call to all those who believe in the potential of Servas to create a more interconnected and peaceful world. If you're passionate about promoting cultural exchange, peace, and understanding, please consider running for the US Servas Board. Your unique voice, ideas, and dedication can help steer US Servas towards greater impact. Learn more and apply for the Board.  

    There’ll be an opportunity to hear from our candidates during a Meet the Candidates Forum on Wednesday, October 18, @ 5pm, Pacific Time. Each candidate will share their platform; US Servas members will then be able to ask the candidates questions. A link to join this meeting will be sent to US Servas members.  

    Important Dates to Remember: 

    Submission Deadline to Run for the Board:  Saturday, September 30, 12:00 am (Pacific Time)  

    Public Forum to Meet the Candidates: Wednesday, October 18, 5:00 pm (Pacific Time)  

  • September 15, 2023 2:00 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    We have six excellent candidates in the running so far. The elections committee is currently vetting the applications for conformance with US Servas board policy, conflicts of interest, and potential issues of concern.  Members have until September 30th to apply, so if you are so inclined to run, do so pronto.The elections committee is now working on the candidates’ profile webpage and organizing the online candidate's forum scheduled for October. Below are key dates for the elections.  

    • Submission Deadline:   Saturday - Sept.30, 12:00 am 

    • Public Forum:   Wednesday - Oct.18, 5:00 pm Pacific 

    • Voting Begins: Friday - Oct. 20 

    • Voting Ends:  Sunday - Oct. 29 


  • August 06, 2023 1:57 PM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    photo of woman on a board extending out over a cliff with the words "Make the Leap - Run for the board"by Natalie Petersen

    Do you love to write?  Enjoy event planning? Are you good with social media? Graphic design? The Board is looking for people with any of these skills and more to help guide and shape the future of US Servas.  

    Servas is a solid organization with a rich and interesting history, started - as many of the most impactful organizations in the world have been - by a small group of people who had a compelling vision and worked together from the ground up to build it. They believed that the foundations of world peace are based on concerned people meeting and learning from one another. This happens as we travel/host the world connecting with and making new Servas friends. Board members get this perk every month as they work diligently with other interesting and dedicated US Servas members of the Board. 

    There are many benefits to being a member of Servas, and,since we’re a volunteer-run organization, there are also many opportunities to give back. One of the best ways to do this, and have a voice in the US Servas community, is by serving on the Board. The core mission of Servas, to promote peace and understanding, resonates deeply with many Servas members. Many of us have had amazing and impactful experiences interacting with fellow “peace ambassadors” through their travels. The opportunity to have these experiences through Servas is dependent on our continuance of a well-run organization, which starts with stellar Board leadership. 

    Does the Servas mission align with your beliefs? Do you have something to offer and want to give back?  

    Board service can provide the opportunity to:  

    • Share your ideas, skills, and experience  
    • Shape the future of US Servas  
    • Broaden your network 
    • Expand your mind 
    • Learn new skills 
    • Develop leadership capacity 
    • Represent US Servas Members 
    • Become a better listener 
    • Increase peace-building skills; learn to respect differing perspectives and arrive at consensus  
    • Strengthen the organization 
    • Have fun with a great group of people 
    • Make an impact 
    Board members bring diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and personal experiences, and they add tremendous value by elevating the mission and work of US Servas. Review the details found on the Run for the Board webpage. Why not make the big leap, join the board, and give back to keep Servas strong!

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