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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 10

    Document Title
    First Annual Executive Summary Commemorative Commission to Honor the Contributions of the Women of Virginia, December 1, 2010 – November 30, 2011

    Commemorative Commission to Honor the Contributions of the Women of Virginia

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 11 (Regular Session, 2010)

    Executive Summary
    Creation and Charge of the Commission

    In 2010, the Virginia General Assembly established a commemorative commission to honor the contributions of the women of Virginia with a monument on the grounds of Capitol Square. The charge of the Commission, as stated in the Joint Resolution was as follows: The Commission shall determine and recommend to the General Assembly an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia.

    The Commission shall seek private funding for the operation and support of the Commission and the erection of an appropriate monument. The costs of implementation of the Commission, its work, and the compensation and reimbursement of members shall be borne by the Commission from such private funds as it may acquire to cover the costs of its operation and work. All agencies of the Commonwealth shall provide assistance to the Commission, upon request.

    Members of the Commission

    As designated in the Joint Resolution, the commemorative commission shall consist of a total of 19 members as follows: the Governor of Virginia who shall serve as Chairman thereof, the Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules, one member of the Senate appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, the Clerk of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, one member of the House of Delegates at large appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the Clerk of the House of Delegates; eight nonlegislative citizen members of whom three members shall be appointed by the Governor, two of whom shall be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, and three of whom shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates. The Secretary of Administration or his designee, the Librarian of Virginia or her designee, the Executive Director of the Capitol Square Preservation Council, and the Executive Director of the Virginia Capitol Foundation shall serve ex officio with nonvoting privileges.

    Following the gubernatorial and legislative appointments, the members of the Commission are: Governor Robert F. McDonnell, Speaker of the House Bill Howell, Delegate Jimmie Massie, Clerk of the House G. Paul Nardo, Chair of Senate Rules Mary Margaret Whipple, Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel, Clerk of the Senate Susan Clarke Schaar, Secretary of Administration Lisa M. Hicks-Thomas (ex officio), the Librarian of Virginia Sandra Treadway (ex officio), Executive Director of Capitol Square Preservation Council Jim Wootton (ex officio), Executive Director of Virginia Capitol Foundation Alice Lynch (ex officio), gubernatorial appointees Mary Blanton Easterly, Jacqueline Cook Hedblom, and Rita D. McClenny, Speaker of the House of Delegates appointees, Mary Abel-Smith, Kitty Claiborne, and Carol Price; and Senate Joint Rules appointees, Lissy S. Bryan and Em Bowles Locker Alsop.

    Meetings and Significant Actions

    The inaugural meeting of the Commission was held on March 29, 2011 in Senate Room 3 of the State Capitol, with 11 of the 19 Commission members present. Although the Governor is the official chair of the Commission, it was recommended by the Governor with the concurrence of the members of the Commission that Secretary Hicks-Thomas would serve as Chair in his absence. The meeting began with a discussion of work plans, beginning with the formation of the following subcommittees: public outreach, message and fundraising. Rita McClenny suggested that each subcommittee have a chair that would give a report to the full Commission at each meeting. The Commission charged the message subcommittee with drafting a “Message Statement” about the Commission that would be helpful in relaying the purpose to the public and to raise awareness of the project in general. Em Bowles Locker Alsop suggested that the monument be instructional as well as inspirational to those who visited it and Senator Whipple suggested that a competition among the public/groups could provide creative ideas for a theme or story. Mrs. Alsop stressed including others from around the state for input. While there was discussion on creating a foundation, Alice Lynch noted the Capitol Square Foundation already had 501(c) (3) status and that the Foundation could handle the administrative work of the Commission during the initial phases of the project. Just prior to the adjournment of the meeting, Jim Wootton led the Commission on a walk to potential sites on the grounds of the Capitol and the members agreed on a site to be presented to the Joint Rules Committee and to the Governor for approval. The next meeting was set for April 26, 2011.

    Due to scheduling conflicts and the untimely death of Bruce Jamerson, the April meeting was canceled and the next meeting was held on June 14, 2011. The Message Subcommittee submitted the following draft message statement which the Commission voted to adopt:

    "In 2010 the General Assembly created a Commemorative Commission to honor the contributions of the women of Virginia. The Commission seeks to memorialize and pay tribute to the contributions that women have made to our state's and our nation's history by erecting a Monument in their honor in a prominent place on the grounds of Capitol Square. This Monument will stand as a reminder of the vital role that women have played in public and private life and will serve as an inspiration to future generations of Virginians. It is the Commission's hope that the Monument will also spark inquiry and encourage educational endeavors highlighting Virginia women's accomplishments across four centuries -- and beyond."

    Joseph Seipel, Dean of the VCU School of the Arts addressed the Commission regarding the process of designing and building a monument. He stated that he had worked on the Civil Rights Memorial and the Public Safety Memorial and remarked on the number of things that needed to be done, i.e., fundraising, choosing a location of the Monument and determining the content of the Monument. He recommended the order of process be: site selection, creation of a mission statement, solicitation of proposals and fundraising. He informed the Committee on what the cost would be for the process and for hiring a consultant and the various ways that artists could be found. He said the process of procuring an artist and design could take anywhere from six months to a year because of the number of committees that might need to approve the work. He further remarked on the importance of having a contract properly drawn, including copyrights and contingency clauses to ensure that someone is assigned to finish the project just in case the artist is unable to do so. Alice Lynch suggested looking for an attorney who specialized in entertainment law. Mary Abel-Smith remarked that she knew of an artist who would do it pro bono. Secretary Hicks-Thomas spoke on Virginia's Public Safety Memorial Commission and provided a handout that it used to seek proposals for the outdoor sculpture. The handout included background, purpose, and the objectives. It also included information on proposal submissions and the deadline for submission.

    Mrs. Alsop, Original Proposer of the Monument and Member of the Sponsoring Committee, gave a report on possible topics and design of the Monument, including a desired emphasis on history. Richard Sliwoski, Director of General Services, spoke to the Commission on the importance of working in conjunction with the Capitol Foundation. He said that maintenance costs should be included in the contract and, further, that a height restriction clause (approximately 10 to 15 feet) needed to be included in the solicitation proposal going out to the artists. He also mentioned the importance of knowing in advance whether the artist intends to have a walkway around the Monument.

    The following additional subcommittees were formed: monument subcommittee (to work with the Department of General Services), communication subcommittee (fundraising, budget for communications), history subcommittee (to research possible people to be included on the Monument), finance subcommittee (to oversee donations) and a consultant search Subcommittee. The next meeting of the Commission was set for September 6, 2011.

    The Commission held its third meeting on September 6, 2011. Alice Lynch reported on behalf of the fundraising subcommittee that the initial fundraising for seed money had been successful and that there were other interested donors. She also suggested the Commission reach national media with the press releases. Secretary Hicks-Thomas discussed the public outreach subcommittee and the concept of scheduling statewide Public Forums within the next 60 days. Susan Schaar added that it could be done with the assistance of the Senate and House Clerks Committee Operations staff. Susan Schaar suggested the forums be held in Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Richmond, Southside and Southwestern VA, locations similar to those used for redistricting earlier this year. She also mentioned the sites for the forums should be locations where there would not be a fee for using the facility. After discussion, it was agreed to that a press release announcing the forums would be ready no later than September 30 with the forums being held after that. It was noted that Susan Schaar and Paul Nardo would write the press release and that their offices would absorb the costs.

    Alice Lynch agreed to be the keeper of contact lists and encouraged members to submit names of key individuals or various organizations not only in Virginia, but nationally as well that should be contacted regarding the forums. The commission members were asked to provide her with specific groups to contact and to include men's organizations as well. After discussion, the Commission agreed that it would be more prudent to have one facilitator/moderator for all of the forums. It was brought up that the Commission members could help with communication and that the time of the forums should be spaced to capture a larger audience, i.e., one during the day and one in the evening in certain venues.

    Jacqueline Hedblom, head of the consultant search subcommittee reported that Dean Seipel recommended Sally Lamb Bowring, a member of the VCU Art Department, as a potential consultant. The members agreed that a paid consultant was not necessary at this time, but would be needed at a later date.

    Rita McClenny stated that she has someone from her office that could write the RFP when the time came to procure an artist. The topic of having an interactive kiosk or some other type of technology (smart tags, etc.) as a part of the Monument was discussed. The Commission will look into the rules which apply to the amount of allowable space for the kiosk. The Commission agreed that there also needs to be a way to communicate with those who are not technically savvy.

    Secretary Hicks-Thomas asked Sandra Treadway to serve on a subcommittee to research and establish criteria for inclusion on the Monument. Jim Wootton offered to assist. Secretary Hicks-Thomas suggested establishing a high level selection panel to vet recommendations. Jim Wootton suggested contacting historians at the various institutions, i.e., William & Mary, Virginia Tech, UVA, University of Richmond. Sandra Treadway said she would provide lists of various libraries.

    Sponsoring Committee Remarks were provided by Mrs. Em Bowles Alsop. Mrs. Alsop espoused on the female pioneers of the 18th Century and on the contributions of Marsha Washington, Dolly Madison and Edith Wilson, wives of three Virginia presidents. She suggested that the Monument should represent symbolic as well as specific important women. The next meeting of the Commission was scheduled for Monday, November 21, 2011 @ 2:00 p.m. Location to be determined.

    On September 30, 2011 the Office of the Governor issued a press release announcing that the Commission would hold a series of nine forums or “community conversations” across the Commonwealth during the month of October to gather ideas and broad public input on an appropriate monument in Virginia’s Capitol Square in Richmond to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia. The nine “community conversations” were held on the following dates and locations:

    October 12 – Southside Virginia: 7:00 PM at Danville Community College

    October 17 – Hampton Roads: 2:00 PM at Christopher Newport University

    October 17 – Hampton Roads: 7:00 PM at Norfolk City Hall

    October 19 – Southwest Virginia: 7:00 PM at Radford University

    October 20 – Central Virginia: 2:00 PM at University of Richmond

    October 20 – Central Virginia: 7:00 PM at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

    October 24 – Valley / Western Virginia: 7:00 PM at James Madison University

    October 26 – Northern Virginia: 2:00 PM at Fairfax County Government Center, and 7:00 PM at Fairfax County Government Center

    Citizens from all over the Commonwealth attended the forums, asked questions about the process and gave feedback. Although the forums were attended by members of the Commission, they were facilitated by Linda Fisher Thornton, a professional facilitator and professor at the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies.

    At the Commission’s fourth meeting on November 21, 2011, Ms. Thornton presented her report of the public feedback to the full Commission. The Commission also heard from Christopher Ohrstrom, chair of the board of trustees for the World Monuments Fund, on the importance of the proposed monument and on ways to approach the tasks of fundraising and procuring an artist and design. The Commission voted to move on to the next phase of the process, beginning with hiring a consultant. During the public comment period the Commission heard from a group of students from St. Catherine’s School and two members of the public.

    No further meetings of the Commemorative Commission were held during this first annual reporting period, but the next meeting is tentatively scheduled for January 23, 2012 at 2 pm.