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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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  • 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!

  • June 09, 2023 5:49 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    chart showing membership levels through the pandemic to May 2023By Shyla Esko Bare, Board Vice-Chair 

    With the intention of not just providing information but also building community, the US Servas 2023 annual meeting was virtual so members across the country could attend. And they did. Eighty-seven people joined  the meeting on June 3rd. 

    “Helped me to feel a real part of the community of SERVAS,” said long-time member Ginger. While Ellyn, who recently joined, commented that, “As a new member, this was so informative.” Zooming in together Mary and Jon  said, “Well worth our time!” And Steve even requested that we have “More meetings like this monthly!!!” 

    During the meeting we heard reports from each of the five US Servas Branches – Governance, Finance, Member Services, Technology, and Community. We learned that the organization is financially running in the “green” -- and growing! We have gained 800 new members over the past 20 months, 90 of whom are between the ages of. 18 and29. And there’s more!This summer we are adding a new Friend level of membership. The SYLE (student youth language exchange) application is being revamped. Yosi McIntire, our long-time Peace Secretary was thanked for his service and the job description for his replacement was reviewedWe touched on some of the main uses of  the US Servas website. 

    These are just examples of some of the business that was covered during the meeting. To discover everything that was shared, and to see the 2022 financial reports, read the Annual Meeting Minutes on the US Servas website or listen to the recording (link to video is in the minutes). 

    screen-shot of attendeesThe community building portion of the meeting included a discussion about peace.Attendees went to breakout rooms to consider what it means for Servas to be a peace organization and what activities the group could engage in to contribute to peace. This brainstorming exercise produced a wide range of great ideas reinforcing the core concept of peace. When we reconvened, the Board Chair, Richard Weaverfacilitated a discussion of some of the ideas that had been brought up to reinforce our vision of peace.As attendee Johan stated, “I believe Servas’ commitment to peace and justice issues presents a strong way to attract younger and diverse membership who care deeply about social justice.” 

  • May 04, 2023 2:59 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Annual Meeting Sat., June 3rd

    by Richard Weaver 

    US Servas Annual meetings are now virtual.  This year's meeting will be held on Saturday, June 3rd at 10:00 Pacific Time (1:00 MT, 12:00 CT, and 1:00 ET).  All members are invited to participate. This will be your chance to be part of decision-making at US Servas. We are planning a lively event that will be highlighted with a discussion about what it means to be a “peace organization” in these times. Plus, there will be brief reports on US Servas activities and finances. 

    This will be a virtual meeting.  Visit the US Servas website to Register. The conference video link will be automatically shared with those who register.

  • May 04, 2023 12:49 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    By Richard Weaver, Chair, US Servas Board of Directors 

    On April 14 & 15 the US Servas Board of Directors gathered in the home of its chair, Richard Weaver, to explore a number of issues including strengthening our relationship with Servas International, goals for the year, new financial realities, new membership level, and what it means to be a “peace organization.” 

    Normally, the Board of US Servas meets monthly to conduct the business of the organization. These are efficient meetings moving quickly from one business item to the next that keeps the organization moving forward.  However, behind many of these decisions are complex issues that cannot be addressed in our two-hour monthly meetings.  But they are still very important, and  our semi-annual retreats allow time to explore them. 

    The purpose of this retreat was to discuss these important issues and get to know each other better.  The retreat started with a virtual chat with the Board of Servas International as we seek a more aligned approach for Servas across the globe. Our Board felt it was a very productive exchange. 

    Photo of meeting

    L-R Bill Magargal, Shyla Esko Bare, Shelly Mitchell (video) Tys Sniffen, Eileen Rowley

    As the retreat began, each Board member had an opportunity to state what they wanted US Servas to accomplish this year and what obstacles are being faced. We were building on the goals for 2023 that were developed in the virtual retreat held in January. 

    It has been over two years since US Servas became an all-volunteer organization, jettisoning both an office and staff. This has dramatically changed the financial position of US Servas.  Now that the pattern of revenue and expenses is clearer, it is time to have a discussion about the role of the sizable financial reserve that had been previously required.  This will be an ongoing conversation before tangible decisions are made. 

    The new corporate by-laws, adopted in the Fall of 2022, created a level of membership that covers the time between an individual paying the annual membership fee and completing the profile required to travel or host.  Some people choose to stay at this level so they can support Servas and remain affiliated.  Various names for this level of membership were discussed.  The one gaining the most support was “friend of Servas.” 

    As an all-volunteer organization, the recruitment, assignment, and support of volunteers is critical to success for US Servas. Much progress has been made over the past two years but more needs to be done.  The Board explored both what is currently being done and how to progress further. 

    The retreat concluded with a lively discussion about what it means to be a “peace organization.”  Traditionally, it has been said that Servas contributes to world peace by creating cross-cultural exchanges through its travelers and hosts.  US Servas is frequently asked to take public stands on world events and conditions as well as to provide money for a wide variety of peace-related activities. Agreeing on a definition of Servas as a peace organization is necessary to determine the boundaries of what would be acceptable public positions and financial support. This is an ongoing discussion in which our members will be asked to share their thoughts. 

    Overall, the retreat was very productive.  Important conversations were shared, and groundwork laid for future business decisions.  Additionally, through Servas and personal conversations and other activities, relationships among Board members were strengthened that are foundational to improving the Board’s decision process. 

    L-R Richard Weaver, Bill Magargal & Marie Spodek, Tys Sniffen, Shyla Esko Bare

    Editor’s Note: After two days of meetings the board needed some exercise and fresh air, so Richard led us on a rigorous hike up and through the cliffs at Torrey Pines State Park near San Diego. When we hiked back down to the beach, the tide was in, so we had to scramble over loose rocks the whole way back. We all slept well that night, albeit a few with tender feet and aching muscles.  

  • March 05, 2023 11:33 AM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    US Servas Bylaws require at least two (2) months notice of our annual meeting. It will be on Zoom. How to join will be sent out closer to the date.

  • March 05, 2023 11:31 AM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    The Elections Committee is gearing up to ensure that the next slate of Board Members, to be elected by U.S. Servas members in September 2023, are the best volunteers to continue the work of U.S. Servas. Information will be available soon on a new website page accessible from the Members Area tab when U.S. Servas members log in to their online accounts. Members who would like to make a nomination for the Board or receive a notice of when additional information is available online may send an email for further information to

  • January 31, 2023 3:52 PM | Richard Weaver (Administrator)

    Board members at January 2023 planning meeting.Happy New Year from the Board of US Servas. The Board has started out the year with a flurry of activity.  First, we welcomed our new Board Members:  Eileen Rowley, Shelley Mitchell, Tys Sniffen, and Bill Margargal.  It is great to have these new members with their fresh ideas and energy. Yosi McIntire was confirmed as Peace Secretary for 2023.

    We had a productive all-day, virtual strategic planning meeting. A key part of the outcome of the meeting was agreement on goals for the year:  1) Create simpler systems for members; 2) Grow and retain membership; 3) Recruit more volunteers and provide meaningful opportunities; 4) Keep in mind that we are a peace organization; and 5) Foster collaboration and fun. Throughout the year, the Board will be guided by these goals and measuring our performance on how we are doing towards them. 

    The first order of business at the January Board Meeting was the election of officers. Richard Weaver was elected Chair; Shyla Esko Bare, Vice Chair; Leena Desai, Treasurer; and Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh, Secretary. This is a team of experienced Board Members already leading Servas forward. I want to take a moment to express our appreciation for the contributions Arnie Roland made during the past year as Board Chair. He provided steady leadership and initiated a number of system changes that made Servas more efficient and effective.  Thank you, Arnie.

    US Servas has now operated for two years as a completely volunteer organization.  This has been a huge learning experience.  In early 2022 US Servas was reorganized into five branches:  Governance, Membership, Community, Finance, and Technology. Each of these branches has teams fulfilling the associated functions. This means that when you apply to become a member or have a question, volunteers are stepping up and responding.  In practical terms, this also means that there are many volunteer opportunities for Servas members to make a real difference.  If you enjoy sharing with people who have similar interests and values, you are invited to be a part of this. Volunteer Here

  • December 20, 2022 8:15 AM | Richard Weaver (Administrator)

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