For the first time in the 65-year history of PR Society of America, the national board in 2012 will have a female majority -- ten women and seven men.

The board had a 10-7 male-female balance in 2011 and a 9-8 male-female balance in 2010. Boards were heavily male for many decades.

Nine of the ten biggest chapters are headed by women as are 40 of the 50 biggest. Seventy-eight of 105 chapter presidents (74%) are women and 70% of the 21,000 members of the Society are women by its own count.

The Assembly that will meet Saturday will also be about 70% female because chapter presidents are “designated” as Assembly delegates under the 2009 bylaws.

Presidents of the ten largest chapters, which have about 70 votes, are Brigitte Johnson, National Capital; Karla Harvill, Georgia; Sandra Fathi, New York; Amy Littleton, Chicago; Brian O’Connor, Los Angeles; Meredith Bagnulo, Colorado; Susan Ferraro, Detroit; Brooke Worden, Minnesota; Michelle McCormick, Houston, and Kathryn Reith, Puget Sound.

Women on the 2012 national board will be Rosanna Fiske, Kathy Barbour, Geri Evans, Debra Peterson, Marisa Vallbona, Susan Walton, Barbara Whitman, Jane Dvorak, Diane Lofgren and Elizabeth Pecsi. Men are Gerard Corbett, Mickey Nall, Dave Rickey, Joseph Cohen, Kirk Hazlett, Stephen Iseman and Mark McClennan.

Women Have Numerical Control

Women as a gender can control the Society and direct its course but so far have chosen not to do so.

The four highest-paying staff positions are in the hands of men.

COO Bill Murray, who has a new three-year contract starting in January, was paid $373K in 2009 in salary/benefits. CFO Phil Bonaventura was paid $221K (salary/benefits); VP-development John Robinson $140K pay, and VP-PR Arthur Yann, $137K pay.

No later figures are available. Neither the board nor staff will reveal them or the terms of Murray’s three-year contract.

When a delegate raised the topic of h.q. executive pay on a teleconference July 28, chair Rosanna Fiske turned succeeding teleconferences into a “listen-only” mode that blocked delegates from asking questions except via a companion website. She had refused to discuss the topic of staff pay and told the delegate to talk to her “off-line.”

Ian Was 'Excessed'

With Society income dipping from $12.2 million in 2007 to $9.9M in 2009, expenses had to be cut.

The only executive who was excessed was Jennifer Ian, VP-membership marketing, who had been with PRS six years and 11 months. Ian, who made $121K, left in June 2009 and obtained a job with the American Thoracic Society a year later.

Member complaints about Society policies and practices have grown in volume lately with the proposal for a $30 dues hike to $255.

The average fee paid by chapter members to national would be about five times what the member pays as chapter dues, although members are saying most of the Society’s benefits are at the local level.

Delegates have expressed anger at threats by leaders to convert the in-person Assembly in 2012 into a teleconference to save money. Also threatened is cancellation of the “Leadership Rally” for chapter presidents-elect in June (cost: $140,000).

If the dues increase is not passed, there will be no free webinars for members in 2012, leaders have further said.

Nance Tells Women to Assert Themselves

Penny Young Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, Washington, D.C., is urging women to take more of a leadership role.

She told Fox News Oct. 7 that too many men are “Peter Pan-like boys” who have failed to “grow up.”

Males aged 18-34 spend more time on video games than boys aged 12-17, she said.

She told Fox News on July 4, 2011, that what’s needed today is “strong women” like those of the American Revolution. “Women were essential in the founding of our nation and in the forming the character of our country and the same principle applies today,” she added.

“We have to take a stand today and choose where we’re going in this country if we’re to continue in the freedom and prosperity that those Revolutionary women established.”

The U.S. is in a “moral and economic downspin,” she also said.

A poll by Concerned Women of America found 75% of respondents worry about an “economic decline” while 62% worry about “the decline of morality and values.”