July 27th marks one hundred days since this Executive Board took office and reflecting on everything we’ve achieved, and every obstacle that we’ve faced; I realized just how much change we’ve ushered in through the past few months. We started this term with such momentum, and despite a time crunch, I called for the first Executive Committee meeting to convene a mere two week after the convention. Usually the convention happens in late March or early April and each administration has a bit less than a month to prepare appointments. We didn’t have that luxury, it was going to be a push; but it was the only way to keep us on pace with previous years. I made calls every day to discuss positions with applicants and urged others to put their name forward. Incredibly that first meeting saw not only each Regional Director appointed, but every District Chair seat filled as well as multiple committees. It was an underrated achievement that set an example for the next few months. This administration was ready to enact bold change and get the organization moving again. But more than that, we’ve begun forging a modern YDNC with new approaches and infrastructure to lead into the next decade.
At the aforementioned first meeting we passed a few critical pieces of the agenda: We adopted Slack as the official platform for YDNC communications, centralizing our network in one space instead of being spread out over multiple Facebook groups. The new Slack revisits an attempt made years ago by a previous board, but this time we’ve opened it up to the Executive Committee, committees, caucuses, and regional networks. Later a Slack Moderation Guide codified the operations of the YDNC Slack, laying groundwork for future boards to easily use if they so desired. I had campaigned on investing directly into chapters and helping to establish their internal financial infrastructure, and that’s what we did when the Executive Committee passed my $2,800 Chapter Investment & Infrastructure Plan (CHIIP). The plan was expansive in scope, launching a compliance review of every chapter’s standing with the state board of elections, creating a Treasurer’s Group in order for Treasurer Melissa Cordell to aid chapter treasurers, encouraging chapters to assign an assistant treasurer on documents as a way to ensure better stability, and efforts to help create bank accounts and ActBlues for chapters. At the beginning of this term 10/23 chapters, primarily out west, wanted to raise funds, but didn’t have the financial infrastructure and needed guidance. As we continue our work to bring the number down we celebrate that the first set of investments have gone out, showing that our initiative is being taken seriously. The program was demanding, but crucial in making sure that chapters were in compliance and ready to tackle the election cycle with full potential. The compliance review conducted by Melissa checked every single county in North Carolina, ensuring that future chapters knew what they had to do when filing with the state board of election.
We passed Michael Evola’s resolution to establish the Kay Hagan Memorial Scholarship, a serious investment of time and political capital to honor the great late Senator Hagan. After taking time to think through the process, I communicated with the Hagans about the details, and was amazed by their excitement for the project. I was speechless when they not only approved of our idea, but also pledged $10,000 to get it off the ground. More than triple what I had asked of them. It showed that they had great trust in our organization and it’s a responsibility that we can’t take lightly. To operate the scholarship we needed a Board of Trustees, which had been vacant for a few years. It was a goal of the Wilson Administration to appoint a board, and I sought to complete the work that my predecessor had started. However, I wanted the board to be more defined and so our Charter & Bylaws Committee got to work writing the expansive amendment. I provided careful direction with the Board of Trustees and with that our Charter & Bylaws Committee wrote an excellent amendment; which was later approved by the Executive Committee on 6/14. The long dream of the Board of Trustees finally came to fruition and after years of inactivity the board was appointed with distinguished allies of our organization on 7/11.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve made full use of our membership by utilizing committees and the power of appointments. The Finance, Communications, and Planning Committees were created to help board members operate more effectively with larger projects as well as establish a pipeline for future leadership for officer roles. Other than fully staffing standing committees, I also moved to create the Jobs Board Reform Committee, which aimed to review recent issues with the Jobs Board and recommend ways to officially incorporate the entity under YDNC. The Jobs Board under the leadership of Chairman Wilson Brown came up with results quickly, finishing a month ahead of schedule. Brown and Jon McLamb, Co-Chair of the Charter & Bylaws Committee, smoothly guided the bylaw recommendations through the committee in time to be voted on at the next Executive Committee meeting on 7/11. The fully staffed Charter & Bylaws Committee has proven to be a force of nature. In just over three months they’ve reviewed eight amendments and successfully passed on six of them to the Executive Committee. These amendments have updated our organization in key ways. They’ve tackled the question of abolishing dues, expanded the power of the Resolutions Committee, expanded the power of the VP for Membership by making them the chair of the Membership Committee, and expanded the Executive Committee by giving the NCATD Vice President a voting seat just like the CDNC Vice President does.
Of course we couldn’t talk about a new YDNC without mentioning the logo referendum and the new website. Chosen by perhaps the first referendum in YDNC history, and made possible by recent technology, the new logo stands as a clear symbol for the new YDNC. It’s a logo that honors its past, but embraces a bold new future. The website, designed by Elijah Mears and Katherine Jeanes, also takes a more fluid and relaxed approach that’s more accessible and understandable than past iterations. We built once more on the foundation of the previous administration by switching our Zoom account to a yearly subscription, and switched our email service from Mailchimp to EmailOctopus; saving us $600 per year. With our new system Katherine has been able to provide beautiful emails to catch the eye of our members. Our communications team has done so much to get YDNC in line with the modern age of publicity and promotion.
In an effort to overhaul our traditional election strategy I presented the Dogwood Program, which focused on the grassroots organizing potential of our organization by putting our chapters front and center. Training, logistical, and financial support systems have been created to ensure our chapters have the resources they need to make the biggest impact in their communities. Being present is crucial in order to enact change; so it was with great happiness that I worked to encourage members to apply to be a delegate to the YDA convention. As the convention in Cincinnati approached our administration vowed that no financial barrier would prevent a member from attending. Delegates who needed assistance would get it, and so our team jumped into fundraising mode. We raised thousands of dollars to make sure anybody could go to the convention and with this opportunity dozens of applicants applied and in the end we’ll have a full delegation going to Cincinnati. This diverse delegation, with over 80% of our delegates being first time attendees, will represent the change and vision of the Young Democrats of North Carolina to YDA.
The Young Democrats of North Carolina have been around since 1928 and throughout the years different eras have taken hold. Through the formative years to the height of its power, and the decline as North Carolina grew increasingly Republican; YDNC has withstood the test of time. YDNC is now in a new modern era with bold ideas, expansive infrastructure, and with radically new leadership at the helm. The impact of the work we’ve done shows in the interactions I have with members across the state. “Not only will [CHIIP] help build chapters and membership, but it will also create an overall stronger organization,” Aj from Watauga said, “With everything Taylor and the 2021-2022 administration has accomplished in only 100 days, I’m confident that the best has yet to come.”
“YDNC has made great strides under [Taylor’s] leadership,” Nicole from Catawba cheered, “and I’m very impressed and excited to be part of such an efficient organization.” Cathy from Wilson County praised that recent developments will create a stronger foundation for expanding membership. “With the structural changes that are currently taking place in YDNC, it is important that our focus is on growth – whether it;s through membership or chartering.” Our membership is excited by the new momentum that our organization has taken, but our work is far from done. It’s time to continue the work that we’ve started in these first 100 days. I’m excited for what comes next and I hope that you are too.
77th President of YDNC