On December 9th, Professor Joan Ball’s Marketing class at the Tobin College of Business, St. John’s University, NY made a presentation on “Re-energizing the Ladies of Charity USA.” The students created a marketing strategy proposal with “recommendations to increase membership of millennial women.” LCUSA President Gayle Johnson, President-elect Mary Ann Dantuono, and Board members Kathleen Sieracki, Kathy Kavanaugh, Marilyn Martone attended the presentation.
Collaborating Within the Vincentian Family
“Any institution calling itself ‘Vincentian’ must extend Vincent’s dream to its own time and place. As a university, St. John’s possesses the tools of knowledge and research, and of youth and energy. These are powerful tools that can make a difference in the lives of poor people.” (St. Vincent de Paul: In His Own Words, Vincentian Center publication)
Introducing LCUSA to 18-30 Year Olds
Three of the five goals in LCUSA’s new strategic plan (increasing communication and visibility; increasing membership; and growing funding) require outreach to new audiences and a clear articulation of the mission and identity of the organization. Recognizing this need, President-Elect Mary Ann Dantuono, a staff member at St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y., discussed the matter with fellow Lady of Charity Victoria Shoaf, Dean of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at the university. The discussion led to Professor Joan Ball and her marketing students accepting LCUSA as a client, with the goal of developing a marketing plan to increase membership, with particular emphasis on making LCUSA attractive to 18-30 year old women. President Gayle Johnson formed an Ad Hoc Committee (Kathy Kavanaugh, Elena Miranda, and Kathleen Sieracki) to assist herself and Mary Ann in working with the students.
The project kicked off on Sept. 26 with Mary Ann present at a class session and Gayle and Kathleen participating via Skype. The students were oriented to LCUSA and they subsequently formed a plan to approach the assignment. On Monday, Dec. 9, Gayle, Mary Ann, Kathy and Kathleen attended the students’ presentation of their recommendations intended to help LCUSA achieve national “brand” recognition, reenergize the organization by doubling membership (specific increase in the 18-30 age range) and increase retention of members. Several innovative ideas included the use of interns; building bridges to universities and businesses; improving linkages to Junior Ladies of Charity; connecting with people who have benefited and encouraging them to become members; organizing a national annual event ( Prom Fashion Show suggested); and better use of the website and social media.
We will combine these suggestions with those made by our membership at our national assembly in September to direct meaningful efforts in increasing support for the work and mission of the Ladies of Charity.
Following the class, Dr. Ball met with the committee members and also Marilyn Martone and Natalie Boone, both of St. Johns’ LOC, to discuss next steps. Before the marketing plan can be implemented, LCUSA must define the story it wants to communicate and determine the appropriate audience. A survey was circulated to board members and local association presidents to help develop the story. Dr. Ball offered to analyze the survey responses and continue working, pro bono, with LCUSA.
The St. John’s University Community
This exciting morning was surrounded by other opportunities to learn about St. John’s. On Sunday, Dec. 8, Gayle, Mary Ann and Kathleen attended Mass at St. Thomas More Church on the campus and met Sr. Margaret John Kelly, DC, Spiritual Moderator, and Fr. Michael Whalen, CM, Spiritual Advisor for the St. John’s LOC. The circular narthex of the church features a mosaic history of the Vincentian Family. A brunch at Mary Ann’s home with members of the St. John’s association followed Mass, and a visit to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center completed the day.
Tuesday was highlighted by a visit to St. John’s Prep School where several young women are preparing to become Junior Ladies of Charity. Jasmine Iniguez commented on the process, “It’s always good to pray together. It makes everyone peaceful.”
All the visitors left inspired and excited by the energy surrounding the St. John’s University community.