In a statement that took many observers of the local political scene by surprise, Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Activism announced in its Saturday, Oct. 10, newsletter that it is going on hiatus “for up to a year.”
“This has been a year of upheaval, uncertainty and transition for our country, state, city and for WISPPA,” the club said in a statement signed by President Betty Emirhanian and board members Bianca Richards, Ellen Wood, Dollie Chapman and Lisa Roa. “As we near our annual WISPPA meeting and election of a new board, we have reached a crossroad. COVID-19 will still be with us for the indefinite future. No one has stepped up to volunteer to be on the board next year and our current board needs a break.”
After its annual assembly on Nov. 14 that will be held on Zoom, the club will cease holding monthly meetings and will not collect dues. WISPPA’s weekly newsletter will continue to be published and will be available to members and nonmembers.
WISPPA was founded in 2010 to address “a lack of transparency in our city government at that time,” according to the group’s website. Its first official meeting was held on March 6 of that year. It currently has 80 members.
The group holds monthly meetings, typically on Saturday mornings and at locations that have included the South Pasadena Senior Center. Club business precedes the introduction of a guest speaker, frequently chosen from among members of the city staff. The club is also involved in special projects, including providing and stocking backpacks for the local homeless population. In September, WISPPA co-hosted a candidate forum for South Pasadena City Council hopefuls.
The group was originally named Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action but at a meeting in March 2019 voted to adopt its current label.
This is the first time the club has suspended its activities, according to Emirhanian, who has been president of the group twice, with her second term slated to expire in November.
“Even though our organization will not be active, our members will be,” Emirhanian said during a phone call on Wednesday morning. “Letters will be written. Meetings will be attended and we will be keeping our members informed as to what is going on in the community.”
A custodial board will be installed pending member approval at the annual meeting and is scheduled to meet four times during the upcoming year. The custodial board consists of President Mary Urquhart, Vice President Ellen Daigle, Treasurer Ellen Wood, membership chair Dollie Chapman and Emirhanian, who will remain on the panel as past president and communications chair.
“We will take a look at what is going on in the city,” Emirhanian said. “We are still going to stay on top of what is happening in the city and if we need to act, we will figure things out as we go along. We are fortunate to have members who remain very active.”
Emirhanian acknowledged that the pandemic has “put a lot of stress” on WISPPA.
“Hopefully, we can better assess where we are in a year,” she said. “I am proud of our organization. I believe we got our citizens involved. We gave them the information they needed and we trust our members. We have been around for 10 years and we are very proud of the work we have done.”