Reflections From the First Vice President General

Written by: Denise Doring VanBuren, First Vice President General
May 28, 2019

Accepting a leadership role within DAR, at the chapter, state or national level, is both a privilege and an obligation. Your peers have placed their faith in you, and you are beholden to fulfill the responsibilities of your office to the best of your ability – knowing what generations of amazing Daughters have accomplished before you in the same position. Quite honestly, receiving the support of voters in 2016 to become our National Society’s First Vice President General carried with it the same emotions of joy, excitement – and sheer terror! – that accompanied my first job as Melzingah Chapter Librarian back in 1995!

But thanks to wonderful mentors and the sense of meaningful purpose that we derive from active DAR involvement, I have enjoyed every moment of this office. It’s been the joy of a lifetime to serve as your First Vice President General under the leadership of President General Ann Turner Dillon, to whom I will be forever grateful for her gracious example and many kindnesses.

My fellow officers have previously written of some of the remarkable experiences that we have shared during the last three years, and so I shall not repeat those here. I would like to instead tell you, as chair of our Society’s Human Resources Committee, about the men and women who staff our headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. 

We employ approximately 130 fulltime employees at 1776 D Street. They not only complete the day-to-day work of the Society but they are also our public face to the thousands of tourists who visit our buildings each year. They keep us safe, curate our DAR Museum, review/approve Applications, maintain our library collection, fulfill DAR Store orders, process dues/credentials, promote our public relations, produce our magazine, manage DAR Constitution Hall, account for our finances and complete myriad other responsibilities in order to ensure our day-to-day continuity as a National Society. Some have served for decades and others are brand new to their roles.

In order to create the best possible work environment for these professionals, we launched an Employee Engagement Survey. Based upon its findings, we then conducted focus groups in order to identify the most important areas for initial emphasis. As a result of their feedback, we improved Security resources in the building, increased communication, modified several personnel policies and conducted a comprehensive salary study in order to ensure that we are sufficiently compensating in order to attract and retain the most qualified employees. We hope these steps have evidenced to our headquarters team that we value their contributions and their commitment to our combined success.

Our staff continues to be led by Administrator Steve Nordholt, who brings more than a decade of DAR experience to his duties each morning. We are also benefitting from fresh, innovative approaches in several functions thanks to welcoming new department heads in Genealogy, the DAR Library, the Controller’s Office and Human Resources. Throughout the building, I have witnessed a genuine commitment to serving members and to supporting the Executive Committee, the National Board of Management and the entire National Society in reaching new levels of achievement.

Please be sure to express your appreciation to our Staff members – they are critical to achieving the goals of the National Society. If they don’t succeed, the National Society does not succeed. I am immensely grateful to have been their advocate during this administration.

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