2021-22 Letter from the Board President

Heather Kinion

Modern Quilt Guild Members and Friends,

This annual report letter is going to be a little different that its usual form and perhaps a little longer because it will be covering an 18-month period from January 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. All of our previous annual reports have been for 12 month time periods and for a full calendar year, so what is happening here?

In May 2021, the MQG’s Board of Directors voted to shift the fiscal year of our organization from a calendar year format to a July 1-June 30 fiscal period. This annual report covers all 18 months from January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. 

The decision to adjust our fiscal year was recommended by MQG Treasurer Vikki Gray, a CPA who specializes in non-profits. This change will NOT affect the fiscal year of any local guilds, and was designed to better facilitate our accounting practices and fiscal reporting. Going forward, this means each QuiltCon will occur in the same fiscal year as its registration.

With that technical business explained, I am so excited to talk about all the things that have happened in all of 2021 and the first half of 2022! At the beginning of 2021, the Board of Directors welcomed Candy Parker, of the Central Virginia Modern Quilt Guild, to the Region 4 Member-Elected position on our board. Candy is a founding member of that guild who has a wealth of local MQG leadership experience and has served on our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She also has professional experience in the leadership of non-profit organizations, and we are so fortunate to have her as a director. Welcome, Candy! 

It also marked the end of the term of the previous Region 4 representative, Michelle Wilkie, who served for three years and was a great asset to the board and a major leader in the set up of a Scholarship committee that will allow the MQG to offer scholarships for membership and events going forward. Thank you, Michelle, for your service.

In February 2021, we hosted a global virtual event, QuiltCon Together, which was a RESOUNDING success! Our staff and the all-volunteer MQG crew, as well as the staff of our event framework provider, worked literally around-the-clock to help solve any problems that arose throughout the event, as well as to shepherd attendees through getting the technology platforms up and running. Over 7,000 members participated in live and on-demand lectures and workshops from their own homes all over the globe.

Amazingly, some of our staff members, volunteers, and employees of the provider put in this work while dealing with unprecedented cold weather issues that included no running water, limited heat, and occasional power outages! A giant heartfelt thank you to them for going above and beyond in their duties, and a heartfelt thank you to the attendees who were generally kind and understanding in the face of technical issues and other frustrations. Our heart went out to our Texas members who were suffering from massive power infrastructure failures that meant many of them were without power for some or all of the days of QuiltCon Together, and we were happy to be able to extend access to those members beyond the original dates of the event so that they would be able to partake in their classes and lectures after their power was restored.

QuiltCon Together was born from the challenges facing the MQG and the world from the COVID-19 pandemic, but in pushing us toward virtual events, we found we were able to meet a huge need in our membership for virtual connection. The leadership of the MQG had recognized that need previously, but we needed the kick in the pants of this crisis to dive in and learn about how to connect with our members online, and, although we have no plans to host a virtual or hybrid QuiltCon event again, this event marked a turn toward creating more space online in the MQG to encourage member connections in the virtual space where our organization was originally born.

At the closing ceremonies of QuiltCon Together, the MQG was able to announce the establishment of a Modern Quilt Collection at the International Quilt Museum (IQM) in Lincoln, Nebraska, thanks to a generous gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation. Their son, Ralph James, joined us for the announcement at the closing ceremony. This five-year partnership with the IQM will lead to member quilts being purchased at QuiltCon that will become part of their permanent collection to appear in future exhibits at their museum in Lincoln. We believe in modern quilting as an important movement in the art and craft that is quilting, and we are so excited for this partnership that will encourage interest and study in modern quilts and modern quilting into the future.

In March of 2021, the MQG hired Jennifer Fisher, a member and officer of the Cincinnati MQG, as our part-time office manager. Her experience in local guild leadership is a great asset to staff and members.

The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, opened a Modern Quilt Guild Retrospective featuring 35 quilts made by MQG members from over the last 12 years. The exhibit ran from April to July of 2021, and allowed museum guests to see great modern quilts in person, especially since COVID-19 had interrupted our usual schedule of Best of QuiltCon exhibits.

That spring, we also announced several challenges and creative initiatives for QuiltCon 2022 and beyond. Windham Fabrics announced a range of their Artisan Cottons for the Fabric Challenge for QuiltCon. The QuiltCon Quilting Challenge, sponsored by American Patchwork & Quilting, featured hexie designs. The MQG Community Challenge, for the guild and group quilts, was announced with a theme of “Angles” in a bright citrus palette. Also, new for 2022 was an opportunity for guilds and groups to sell their quilts during QuiltCon and have the proceeds donated to the Navajo Quilt Project and the Women of Color Quilters Network. Away from QuiltCon, members helped select the charity “Trees for the Future” for our “Make-A-Difference Challenge.” Members made tree-themed quilts for an online competition voted on by members later that summer. Over $1,500 was raised and 100% of proceeds were donated to “Trees for the Future.”

As part of our ongoing emphasis on building member connections, 2021 saw the beginning of Individual Member Coalitions and regular meetings for local guild leaders. The Individual Coalitions are groups of individual members who meet virtually in a guild-like atmosphere. The guild leader meet-ups are coordinated by guild leaders with an eye toward sharing knowledge and ideas. 

In September 2021, the MQG welcomed a new staff member, Darci Read, as our Digital Experience Manager. Her background in design, art direction, and user experience, as well as being a member of the Minneapolis MQG, has made her a great choice to coordinate much of what you experience as a member on our website. Darci’s guidance led us to the release of a brand new MQG website that launched in June 2022. 

Late summer into fall brought a showcase of Modern Quilt Guild quilts at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. It also brought sponsorship of both the Atlanta Quilt Festival and a mini quilt competition for the Modern Meets Modern Exhibit at the International Quilt Museum, where the winning quilts, many made by our members, were shown in the gallery alongside the exhibition.

We also publicly launched a mechanism for addressing and resolving grievances in accordance with our Community Guidelines. This was the result of over a year’s worth of work by the dedicated members of our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) committee which had previously been known as our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. We appreciate the time, talent, and dedication shown by this group of members who work constantly to improve our organization.

The staff and the Board of Directors were also able to meet for a staff retreat and a strategic planning session all for the first time in person since before QuiltCon 2020. We met cautiously in a private meeting room and a private dining room in Denver, and we looked forward into the future of the MQG focusing on more virtual events and building more opportunities for member connection and creativity. 

We were able to include incoming board members at the strategic planning session, Frances Silverman of the London MQG, our incoming Region 5 member-elected representative, and Karin King of the Calgary MQG, appointed by the Board of Directors for more international representation and her professional experience in finance, insurance, and events. This also meant we said goodbye to outgoing board members, Shruti Dandekar and Carol Cho, at the close of their terms. We are so grateful for their wisdom and counsel in their years as directors.

And then we were back!! In-person, all together in Phoenix, where there was wonderful weather and wonderful quilts and wonderful fellowship!!! QuiltCon 2023 featured MQG co-founder, Latifah Saafir, as the speaker, with a very special exhibit of her quilts. It also featured special exhibits of the winners of QuiltCon Together, a Susan Hudson-curated exhibit of Native American quilts, Remembrance Banners from the Social Justice Social Academy (SJSA), and quilts finished by MQG members after the death of former board member and South Bay Area MQG member, Susanne Woods.

Launching our first big in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic began was a big challenge. Many things changed in the weeks leading up to the event, and the MQG staff had to be nimble in response to changes necessitated during the Omicron wave of early 2022. However, the MQG is proud of the care that was taken for our members, faculty, staff, and guests when having an in-person, indoor event of this scale. In the end, QuiltCon 2022 was a successful event. It was so good to see and talk to and hug my quilty friends from all over the world after such a long break. And it was a pleasure to announce that QuiltCon 2023 Atlanta was going to feature Chawne Kimber with a special exhibit and lecture, and that QuiltCon 2024 was headed to Raleigh!

After QuiltCon, we were very excited to hire a part-time staff member to be the Events Assistant as we began to plan for virtual events on top of the annual in-person QuiltCon. We welcomed Kelsey Bellmore, an individual member, to the staff in the spring. Staff members also traveled to the Minnesota Quilt Show to learn more about how they run their quilt show with an eye on making improvements to ours, and they all worked on launching the brand new MQG website at the very end of the fiscal year.

Plus, the Best of QuiltCon exhibit, 2022 edition, was back on the road. No exhibit had traveled since the Best of QuiltCon 2019, so we were very excited to showcase member quilts at the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset, Iowa, for their annual Airing of the Quilts event before the exhibit headed out on a journey all over the U.S. We ended the 2021-2022 fiscal year with an announcement of the first big MQG virtual event, MQG Sessions Volume 1, for October 2022. It’s just the beginning of many more MQG virtual events in the future!

This letter from the President of the Board marks the end of my time as an officer on the board, and it was such an honor to be trusted with this role for an organization that I love so much. At the core, the MQG is the people. Modern quilts wouldn’t exist without the people who make them. Guilds are special because of the people who gather together. The MQG has such a bright future because of all of you who are coming together to bring modern quilting to the world by making and sharing quilts, and by welcoming those who are interested in modern quilting into our community. Thank you all so much for being a part of it.

Heather Kinion