On behalf of the Board of Directors of the English Speaking Union of the United States it is my pleasure to extend hearty New Year's and holiday greetings to all of our members, and to all those who support the mission and the objectives of the ESU.
2018 was a transition year for our organization, as we joined with our International Council and the ESU of the Commonwealth in celebrating the centenary of our foundation in the UK. It was wonderful to see that so many of our US Board members and others made the trip to London to join the festivities, culminating in a reception at St. James Palace, where our Patron, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, spoke of the international dimensions of English. She reminded us of the importance of the fellowship and strong bonds throughout the world that are forged through sharing the riches of the English language and of the common values enshrined in so many documents that are central to western civilization.
The past year was also marked by the departure of Christopher Broadwell as Executive Director. The Board of Directors thanks him for his years of service to the ESU and wishes him well for the future. He can be justly proud of those many achievements which have contributed to the future of our organization.
Now, in 2019, we welcome Karen Karpowich as our Acting Executive Director. Karen has many years of experience in the non-profit sector and, most recently, served as Executive Director of the St. George's Society of New York. She is, therefore, familiar with the unique characteristics of organizations such as ours, bodies that help to reinforce and strengthen the 'ties that bind' the Atlantic Alliance and that now reach out to a wider international community. Details about Karen's career are available here on our website.
We will shortly begin our Board work for the year and paramount, of course, is ensuring our financial stability in a volatile market, so that we can both protect and grow the many programs that are at the center of what we do as an organization. At the Annual General Meeting in New Orleans in November, the Board responded to a request for more transparency in respect of our operations and for more involvement of the Branches in future development and in our governance. To that end we have established two temporary committees of the Board: i) Strategic Plan Review Committee, and ii) By Laws Revision Committee, to advise and recommend on future developments in both of these critical areas. We will be coopting a number of our Branch Presidents to both of these committees, to ensure a broader reflection of Branch opinion.
We will, this year, be embarking on our own US Centenary, which will take place in 2020. The centenary was officially opened during the New Orleans conference, with a benefit concert hosted by our Board President, Dr. Quinn Peeper, and featured Dr. Peeper as soloist in a magnificent performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto Number 2 with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. This was an amazing event and we will be posting more information about it on our website. We are planning to hold our 2019 AGM in Washington DC and will then host our 2020 AGM in New York, with an event at the United Nations, where we will also be inviting the ESU International Council to join our celebrations.
This is an exciting time for the English Speaking Union, and we are grateful to you for your support and encouragement.
Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill, CBE, KSt.J