Over the past three years, the Manatee Tiger Bay Club leadership team instituted a number of improvements that have created a stronger organization -- this, under the stewardship of Judy Sedgeman. Recruited by directors to join the club as president in 2011, she'll step down in December but remain on the board.
For the uninitiated, Tiger Bay presents monthly luncheon discussions of major issues in politics, business, education and other topics with speakers who are well acquainted with the agenda. Club members can ask questions of panelists.
In response to Editorial Board questions, Sedgeman describes the club thusly: "I really love Tiger Bay. I think it has an important role in our community to present various perspectives on important issues an informed community needs to understand in a nonpartisan, civil setting."
Sedgeman's contributions to this organization have been substantial. Her three years are marked by major advances, though she quickly credits a supportive, involved board of directors and calls all the progress "our achievements."
Presiding over her final board meeting one week ago, Sedgeman remarked that she "very much enjoyed my tenure" and that it has "been a crazy ride."
Under her leadership, Tiger Bay achieved the goals she set upon joining the board:
The club's budget entered the red with a healthy bank balance that was accomplished without an increase in either lunch prices or dues.
This year, the club was granted tax-exempt status as a 501(c)4 nonprofit, which will further improve its financial standing.
The board updated bylaws in order to establish stronger governance.
The club launched a useful website that outlines programs and allows luncheon reservations to be made quickly and easily.
The board held a reception to honor one of the club's founders and its first president, Pat Glass, a longtime Manatee County commissioner now retired. Sedgeman applauds Glass for "setting the tone of intelligent, civil discussion of important issues."
There was one humorous stumble along the way. Sedgeman called a board meeting early this year but neglected to place it on her own calendar. She missed the meeting.
"The board, being the wonderful group that it is, just went right ahead and got through the agenda without me, and everyone managed to laugh it off."
One memorable moment occurred when a panelist called Sedgeman just before the noon start of the program, explaining she was just leaving Sarasota after a doctor's appointment.
The guest asked the president, who serves as program moderator, to delay the discussion and was incredulous with the negative reply, followed by this:
"I have a room full of very busy people here who count on our programs starting and ending within the time allotted. So we'll just start, if you don't mind, and if you get here before it's over, you can join us up front."
The speaker replied: "Seriously, you would start without me?"
To which Sedgeman said, "Seriously. Yes."
The speaker arrived moments before it was her turn to speak. "She was a little breathless, but she did a good job."
Indeed, the program must go on.
We applaud and thank Sedgeman for her strong -- and unyielding -- leadership of the Manatee Tiger Bay Club. Her continuing membership on the board of directors will be an asset as this informative, thought-provoking and civic-oriented organization moves forward.
And we welcome the incoming president, Misty Servia, a veteran of leadership roles on the board.