An Annual Meeting with a Latin Flair

by Deborah Lanser


On May 16, President Robert Beaury proved once again that he knows how to throw an annual meeting. The 50 or so attendees began by enjoying a delicious breakfast organized by departing Hospitality Chair Irene Esposito and incoming Hospitality Chair Betti Steel. Then Bard Professor Joan Tower introduced three Bard music students, all products of Venezuela’s’s El Sistema intensive music training program, who performed several lively pieces of Latin American music as a prelude to the business meeting.

Election Results

As First Vice President Mary McClellan reported, the results of the recent election were not a surprise. Robert Beaury will serve another two years as president, Mary will continue her position as second vice president, while Kayla Bell and Michael Weinstein will each return for two years as members at large. Karen Kane will replace departing treasurer Jerry Brockett. Mary concluded by asking more members to consider running for office next year.


Robert began the discussion of our finances by noting a suggested increase in the membership fee from $175 to $200. The extra money will allow us to donate more to Bard in gratitude for all the services they provide. Scholarship money will still be available for members who cannot afford the full fee.

Jerry then presented the tentative 2024-2025 budget, Jerry noted that our donations to Bard in fiscal 2023-2024 were almost right on budget. Our operating expenses have remained essentially stable, while our tech expenses have increased somewhat.

The proposed 2024-2025 budget allows for an extra $10,000 to be spent on a grand celebration of our 25th anniversary. The budget was approved unanimously.

Committee and Team Accomplishments

Robert acknowledged the many contributions of the committee and team chairs: Mary McClellan, Curriculum Committee; Carmela Gersbeck, Program Support Committee; Robert Inglish, Membership Development Committee; Eleanor Wieder, Long-Range Planning Team; Laura Brown and Barbara Danish, DEI/Social Justice Team; Cathy Reinis, Communications Committee; and Irene Esposito and Betti Steel, Hospitality Team.

State of the Organization: by Robert Beaury

LLI has grown quite a lot since its founding in 2000. Over the years the organization has benefited from excellent leadership, the right volunteers stepping up at the right times and unwavering support from the Bard administration.

This past year, we were able to bring more courses to the membership both in the Zoom room and in person. We received positive feedback for both Zoom and in-person classes this last semester.

One of our immediate challenges is recruiting more presenters for classes on Zoom. We started using that technology only a few years ago, and like most institutions, had to begin from nothing and figure out what questions we should be asking in the first place. It should not come as a surprise that many of our members have a limited background in technology. I am still amazed that a few savvy tech members got together with a few tech-interested members, and they climbed a steep tech hill and figured out how to make it work. A lot of credit goes to Carmela, Jeff Christiansen, Susan Christoffersen, and the teams that were assembled. But credit is also due to Chuck Mishaan and Deborah Schwartz for getting the tech train rolling for LLI.

I am not the first person to say this, but LLI has been compared to a small “private school” with many moving parts. The classes, activities, and events we enjoy are top-quality products, and they would not be possible without all the volunteers working behind the scenes.

Planning courses for the fall is well under way, planning for WinterFest 2025 has already started, and a couple of proposals are on the table for Spring 2025. We recently established a new MailChimp team under Carmela’s leadership, with two first-year members—Ann Green and Alan Katz—stepping up and taking some of the load off our Communications team. They are doing a terrific job.

Our Program Support committee, specifically the Tech Team, has kept a lot of what we do stitched together. From managing our single most important software program, ProClass, to resolving tech issues large and small across all that LLI does, Carmela’s tech team keeps the lights on, and the LLI trains always run on time.

And let us not forget bocce, which has become extremely popular in a short amount of time. It is a great forum for fun and socializing.