The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

Saturday Breakout Sessions

12:00 - 12:50 PM (EDT)
Session 1: Membership: Recruitment, Renewal, Reclamation
F David Grissett, New Orleans Branch,
Dr. Julia C. Van de Water, Lexington & Charlottesville Branches

Participants will look at the membership puzzle and consider what factors have affected recent branch membership. How are membership numbers trending in recent years and to what do branches determine are the reasons? How well do we communicate our ESU story to members and potential members? How do branches utilize social media to inform others about the ESU. What is the success of branches in recruiting younger members? Is the continuing pandemic affecting membership renewals? What is the nature of branch outreach to recruit new members? What factors keep members renewing their membership? Do branches work to reclaim prior members?

1:00 - 1:25 PM (EDT)
Session 2A: TLAB: Travel and Learn programs

Alice Uhl, Senior Manager, International Programs
Estephany Reyes, 2021 TLab Scholar to Edinburgh

Join us to discuss the latest on the ESU's Travel & Learn Abroad (TLab) multi-week, summer study programs for educators in Oxford, Edinburgh & Shakespeare's Globe in London and 1 week, life-long learner program to Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Estephany Reyes, ESU Princeton Branch 2021 TLab Scholar will share her experience studying Creative Writing and traveling in Edinburgh in the age of Covid.

1:25 Pm - 1:50 PM EDT
Session 2B: Evelyn Wrench Speaker Program

Elizabeth Bigelow, Executive Assistant & Karen Karpowich, Executive Director

The Evelyn Wrench Speaker Series, named for ESU founder Evelyn Wrench, provides speakers to ESU Branches throughout the United States over the course of one to two weeks. Wrench Speakers have been renowned historians, politicians, and authors, presenting their work for ESU members and the general public. Lectures cover a wide range of topics, including but not limited to: current events; history; language and literature; art and architecture; and travel.

The National ESU absorbs the transportation costs involved with bringing speakers to the United States as well as their travel between Branches.* The Local Branches cover the cost of any accommodations, local travel, meals, and additional hospitality. Due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ESU launched a virtual Wrench program in 2020, which included a virtual tour of Shakespeare's London and a lecture by acclaimed author Elizabeth St. John (The Lady of the Tower). Currently, the ESU is working to re-launch the Wrench Program with in-person lectures beginning in the spring of 2022, with potential speakers Sir Christopher Hum, Elizabeth St. John, and James Stebbings.

*In 2019, a generous donation was given by Donald Best, Member of the ESU National Board of Directors, to create a fund to underwrite the travel costs of the Wrench Program. The Fund has subsequently been matched by donations from Branches and individuals dedicated to maintaining this program in perpetuity. We thank all of them for their support!  Rossana Ivanova, Development Consultant, will update the status of the centennial fundraising for the Wrench Speaker Program.