A Big WARP Thank You

As hundreds of people already know, the WARP Annual Meeting that took place over the weekend of June 18 – 20, 2021 was an amazing event, successful on all counts. Our first Zoom conference, there were almost no technical glitches in spite of the 24 presenters coming to us from not only the full spread of the United States but Bangladesh, Brazil, England, Laos, Lebanon, and Mexico, and participants signing in from countries near (Canada, Guatemala) and far (Thailand, Australia), 15 countries in total. It was, absolutely, the most international of all our international Annual Meetings, an amazing accomplishment by the Board and Annual Meeting committee. The good news for anyone who missed it, and many who want a re-run of all or part, is that every session was recorded individually and will be available on WARP’s YouTube channel soon.

The one thing we did not figure out how to do was recreate the live thank you and gift-giving for the departing board members that is a WARP tradition. This year five board members are leaving us, six more are coming in, so our new board will have nine members, the biggest ever. And we can thank the retiring board members for the need for so many. With the arrival of COVID and Zoom, the most active board we have ever had absolutely jumped into action responding to the new world situation. Their accomplishments were nothing short of miraculous, and we want to acknowledge their contributions extraordinaire.


President Susan Weltman

It would be hard to put into words the joie de vivre y generosity of Susan. Everyone knows that Susan is WARP’s best ambassador. She roams the streets of New York spreading the word of WARP and bringing in new members, and then goes off into the rest of the world doing the same. With a clear focus on inclusion, Susan has kept her eye, and therefore WARP’s eye, on bringing in young people as well as people of every color and gender. She insists that we need to get our act together in this arena, and while everyone agrees, it is Susan who has shown us the way – and we hope will continue to. As the world opens up and we can go forth once again, retiree Susan is going to resume her volunteer work with multiple local efforts, including The Arab-American Family Support Center and Red Hook Farms, an organic farm in Brooklyn! Her favorite hangout is WARP member Cynthia Alberto’s Brooklyn studio Weaving Hand. By way of a sincere thank you, we will be sending to Susan a handcrafted one-of-a-kind necklace from her friend and our Keynote speaker Yasmine Dabbous of Beirut, Lebanon.


Vice President Kate Colwell

Hailing from the opposite end of the US, Kate is a retired physician from northern California. Her childhood in Brazil and other connections have instilled a love of Meso-America, and she has been working for the past six years with artisans in Guatemala to reduce repetitive stress injuries. Her retirement from the board is going to allow her to spend even more time helping the health workers of Petén Health in their quest to support the residents of their part of northern Guatemala. Kate’s most visible contribution to WARP this year has been overseeing our first ever virtual Annual Meeting – no small feat, an invent-it-as-you-go process that led to great growth for WARP. With the help of team mates Sara Lamb and Beth Davis (both continuing on the board), Administrative Coordinator Kelsey Wiskirchen, and lots of input from other board members, Kate shepherded the creation of six panel discussions, five individual presentations, two videos made for WARP (all viewed by roughly 250 people), the member-only Welcome Circle (with 60+ participants) and Business Meeting (with 66 participants), and numerous opportunities for members to hang out and zoom together, talking about whatever they wanted – the networking and camaraderie for which we come together. Kate’s thank you gift is a basket from Mayan Hands, for whose weavers, felters, and basket makers she has done so much for so long.


Treasurer Mary Joan Ferrara-Marsland

After Peace Corps and beyond in Botswana, a year in England, and finally settling back in the USA, twenty-five years ago, through WARP connections, Mary Joan started working for UPAVIM (United for a Better Life) in Guatemala, and soon after that added Mayan Hands to her responsibilities. Living in Maryland, Mary Joan was the representative and distributor for both of these WARP member Fair Trade ngo-s that support women artisans in Guatemala. She has since retired to West Virginia, which gave her a chance to get more fully involved in WARP once again. Coming on to fill out a term as treasurer just a year ago, she helped to assess our overall financial situation and fundraising goals, with the creation and execution of the hugely successful online auction, she advocated for the COVID relief grants given earlier this year, worked with Maren Beck in establishing the very successful business networking zoom group, and took on the task of writing the descriptions of 250 items for the WARP auction, a major contributor to the raising of over $11,000. Upon retiring – well, she said it best herself: I just wanted to let everyone know also that I really enjoyed working with all of you this past unusual year. I was so happy to reconnect with WARP and I would not have done that if Susan had not been persistent in asking me to be on the board previously and as Treasurer this last time. To everyone leaving the board you have done a fabulous job and in particular Susan and Philis who have given so many years and so much of your time. You are very appreciated and will be missed by all.  Absolutely yes, and in gratitude Mary Joan will be given a gift from Mari Gray and Kakaw Designs, a table runner from San Juan Cotzal in the Guatemala she loves, (but not one she has already been looking at for more than two decades!)


Philis Alvic – Member at Large

Philis – artist, author, international consultant, and more – has been a member of WARP just about forever and the board for six years, and when this year suddenly demanded a new WARP, as always she rose to the occasion. The Kentucky mastermind behind our new geography-based series of Zoom panel discussions Continuing Textile Traditions, Philis convinced WARP member speakers from the North America, Asia, Africa, and Latin America to share their experiences and wisdom with audiences that reached into the hundreds. It was a stroke of genius that made her (and the board) decide to make the presentations free and open to the public, and the benefits to WARP have been incalculable. We trust that Philis will feel both warmed and elegant in a handwoven hand dyed shawl from Mekong River Textiles, a Fair Trade ngo that has worked in SE Asia since 1986.


Sara Borchert (and Luna) – Member at Large

Sara’s daughter Luna is four, which means that she has probably attended four Annual Meetings one way or another. We all love Luna, and also seeing what a good mom Sara is. Sara’s very full-time day job is working at Camphill Hudson in upstate NY, one of the many Camphill intentional communities that everyone should know about, communities that have provided WARP (and the board) with members since at least our 1999 meeting at Grailville in Loveland, Ohio. In her one-year fill-in, Sara’s main role was helping Philis with the Continuing Textile Traditions panel discussions, especially early on with designing the format and finding speakers. That plus attending the monthly zoom meetings of the board were about all she could squeeze in, but it was the right thing at the right time, and all are grateful. Our thanks to Sara will be a Peruvian shoulder bag handspun and handwoven by one of the many CTTC weavers who receive market and other support from Clothroads, another Fair Trade member of WARP.


We still wish we could do a grand live celebration, and we for sure will at the next live WARP meeting. Meanwhile, we hope you will also find a way to give your virtual applause and thanks to these wonderful retiring board members. WARP is about to take a giant leap forward, and thanks to these five women we are ready.

1 thought on “A Big WARP Thank You”

Comments are closed.