Madam GFWC/OFWC president
Coronavirus derails formal installation but not Marjean Sizemore’s resolve to lead
WINTERSVILLE — Marjean Sizemore had the last weekend of April set aside for something very special.
Installation ceremonies were scheduled for the Wintersville woman to officially become the GFWC/Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs president for 2020-22.
But that gala that would have occurred April 25 during the 121st state convention in Columbus got canceled, courtesy of the COVID-19 coronavirus that’s intruded on all levels of life.
“I will not have a formal installation, but I will take office at that time,” notes Sizemore, who instead will be formally installed at the international convention June 24 in Atlanta, Ga. It will be occasion for all 50 state presidents to be collectively installed.
Delayed ceremony or not, though, Sizemore is ready for the two-year term ahead, which involved a process to attain.
“To be elected to the state presidency, you start out on the board and work your way up the ranks,” she explained. “I’ve been on the Ohio board of directors since being a district president in 2010, and I’ve been an officer and on the executive board since 2014. Each administration lasts for two years,” she said.
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service, according to Sizemore, who explained the clubs and clubwomen are the heart of not only the federation, but the communities in which they live and work.
“By living the volunteer spirit, GFWC clubwomen transform lives each day, not simply with monetary donations, but with hands-on tangible projects that provide immediate impact,” she notes. “With a grassroots approach that often thinks locally but impacts globally, GFWC, its clubs and members remain committed to serving as a force for global good, as it has done since its formation.”
With nearly 80,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state, the District of Columbia and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members work in their communities to support the arts, preserve natural resources, advance education, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage civic involvement and work toward world peace and understanding, according to Sizemore’s promotional material.
A native of Wheeling, Sizemore had no connection to a woman’s club at all until much later in life, ironically through the career she would pursue.
After graduating from Wheeling Central Catholic High School, she went on to graduate from Wheeling Hospital School of Nursing and attended West Liberty State College. She worked at Wheeling Hospital as a staff nurse and educational coordinator before her marriage to her husband, David Sizemore, brought a move to Wintersville. They were married for 32 years before his death in 2002.
Sizemore worked at St. John Medical Center, now Trinity Medical Center West, as a registered nurse where she not only served as staff nurse, but advanced to a leadership role as assistant head nurse of a pediatric unit and then charge nurse for a cardiac telemetry unit. That involved not only implementing doctors’ orders, but solving problems, educating family and patients and being responsible for interdepartmental communications and discharge screening.
Employment at Workcare came next.
There she was the clinic supervisor and education coordinator at what is the occupational medicine department of Trinity Health System. Sizemore was responsible for quarterly chart reviews relating to joint commission compliance and education to client companies as well as the staff, including basic life support training, OSHA training and drug and alcohol testing, even on river barges.
The latter earned her the title “Tugboat Annie,” Sizemore reminisced, recalling how the owner of a riverboat company needed to provide workplace drug and alcohol education and testing to meet the Federal Department of Transportation regulations.
“It was a problem to stop the riverboats to do this, so I worked with the owner, and they made arrangements for me to board the barge, provide the class and collect the specimens,” she said. “When completed, the owner drove down river and picked me up and took me to my car — hence the name ‘Tugboat Annie.'”
After retirement, Sizemore worked as a case manager to develop in-home care plans for clients and monitored them for quality of care.
It was Wanda Dyson, a volunteer who worked on Thursdays with Workcare, who introduced Sizemore to the concept of woman’s club.
Come the third Thursday of each month, Dyson would leave to attend the Wintersville Woman’s Club’s noon luncheon and business meeting.
When Sizemore retired in 2005, Dyson asked the million dollar question: Why don’t you come?
“She invited me to attend after I retired, and the rest is history,” Sizemore said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be state president. I joined so I wouldn’t get bored after retirement and, needless to say, I have never been bored,” she added. “I have met so many wonderful women on a local, district, state and international level. Many of them became lifelong friends,” she said.
“Linda Nolf was my mentor and helped me to understand what GFWC was all about. When I first joined, I thought it was a social organization, since the only thing I knew was that they had a Holiday Splendor every year,” Sizemore said, referring to the club’s annual fundraiser. “Boy was I wrong. This organization does so much for this community, the state and the nation. It’s a way to give back for all the blessings in my life,” she said of her involvement.
Sizemore has been no slacker on the local level.
As a member of GFWC Wintersville Woman’s Club, she developed the club’s first newsletter; edited the yearbook; served on the public affairs committee, program planning, fundraising and international outreach; and ultimately became club president.
She also was district Legislation Day chairman, served as region conference chairman, served as first vice president from 2006-08 and president from 2008-10.
Sizemore, who also is a member and secretary of the GFWC Internet Service Providers, served as president of the Southeast District from 2010-14 and has served on several committees on the club, district and state level.
“Locally we have 12 clubs in our Southeast District with eight of these clubs in Jefferson County,” Sizemore explained. “The Southeast District extends from Columbiana County to the north, Columbus to the west and Proctorville to the south. It is the largest district in the state by area and members. There are only two women who have served as state president from this district — Elaine Weinman in 1958-1960 and Shirley Mitchell, 1990-1992. Both of these women were from the Woman’s Club of Steubenville,” she said. “Wintersville Woman’s Club was federated in 1934, and there has never been a state president from the Wintersville club. I feel very privileged to represent Wintersville Woman’s Club as the 62nd Ohio state president.”
Sizemore’s state-level service included GFWC Ohio secretary from 2014-16 and GFWC Ohio second vice president 2016-18. She currently is serving as GFWC Ohio president-elect and is a member of the GFWC Ohio Executive Board.
Her varied club honors include being named Wintersville Woman’s Club Woman of the Year in 2014 and being chosen as the 2015 Jennie June candidate for Ohio. She was one of the Great Lakes Region’s winners.
For the Jennie award, club members are chosen by their clubs to compete at state, region and national levels for the federation’s highest honor. The Jennie Award is named in honor of GFWC Founder Jane Cunningham Croly, who wrote for national newspapers under the pseudonym “Jennie June.” The award is an occasion to highlight extraordinary clubwomen who epitomize her spirit of independence, courage and persistence in purpose through their roles as volunteers within their clubs, elsewhere in the community and as members of a family or extended family, according to Sizemore.
Although GFWC has many awards for states and clubs, the GFWC Jennie Award is the only national honor that recognizes individual members for personal excellence. It is an award for lifetime personal excellence.
Since joining the woman’s club in 2005, Sizemore has attended all state, region and international conventions except the one held in Florida. State conventions are always held in Columbus because of the central location. The region, she explained, encompasses five states: Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
“I have attended all region conferences and was chairman for the Ohio Region Conference in Toledo in 2015,” she said. “The first international convention I attended was in Cleveland, and then there were many more, including Baltimore, St. Louis, Texas, Arizona and California. They attract attendance from GFWC members from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.”
As president, Sizemore’s duties will be varied. They include presiding at annual meeting (conventions), the meetings of the board of directors and the meetings of the executive committee. She will supervise plans for extending, unifying and rendering efficient work for the federation; appoint special committees and fill vacancies of appointees; approve all programs of work and the final proof copy of the Buckeye Magazine, the state magazine; represent GFWC/Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs at the GFWC Great Lakes Region meetings and at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Annual Meeting (conventions); and attend the meetings of the board of directors of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
“Becoming state president is exciting and scary at the same time,” Sizemore said. “The past presidents have been awesome and have done great things during their administrations. I want to continue that and hope to make a difference both locally and statewide,” she said of what she hopes to accomplish with her theme.
Hers for the 2020-22 administration will be “Feed our Future,” and the symbol will be a wicker basket filled with vegetables. The administration year will be printed on the handle, the theme along the rim, the GFWC logo in the center of the basket with GFWC Ohio below the logo.
“The theme will encompass all age groups and help to provide food to children, low-income families, the elderly, cancer patients and those individuals who have to decide whether to purchase their medication or buy groceries,” Sizemore explained.
“My goal is that individual clubs will have programs, create awareness, plan fundraisers and projects to raise funds and volunteer in their communities. The money raised will stay in their communities, to provide assistance and develop programs, in their area. The clubs can start food banks, food pantries in schools, establish soup kitchens, and partner with other organizations to provide food to those in need. I am very proud that we can and will make a difference throughout the communities in Ohio. I know we will make a difference because our members are awesome,” she said.
There are five districts in Ohio with 53 clubs and 1,264 members, a number down significantly through the years.
“The theme ‘Feed our Future’ can be two-fold and encompass our membership issue,” Sizemore believes. “We have lost members over the years which is not uncommon with organizations. Many women work outside the home today, many have families; women don’t want to come home from work and get ready for a meeting, if you have children, and they’re involved in many extracurricular activities. I’d like to concentrate on membership — ‘Feed our Future Membership.’ We have had dynamic state membership chairmen, and this administration will continue that tradition,” Sizemore noted.
“Fundraising will be done on a state level during district and state events, with the money raised during these events to be used to promote membership and establish new clubs throughout the state where none exist,” she said. “This will be accomplished through advertisement, recruitment meetings and word of mouth. It also will increase awareness in the communities of who we are and get our name out there throughout the state of Ohio, and possibly increase membership in clubs already established. I think the answer lies in digital and/or Internet meetings. We have to advance with the times,” she said, noting Ohio has two Internet clubs.
Many mentors have led Sizemore on a woman’s club journey she has savored. Aside from Nolf, they include past state presidents Evelyn Bachman, Lin Wilken, Barbara Whitaker, Corky Nosek, Linda Ross, Lisa Hedrick and Linda Crish, all of whom “contributed to me moving on within the organization.”
Beyond woman’s club involvement, Sizemore has been an active member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Wintersville. Sizemore has served on many committees through the years, including fundraising and evangelistic, parish women’s organization president, growth group leader and helped set up a parish nursing program for a neighboring church.
She was a member of her hospital’s TWIG auxiliary until its disbandment, served on the executive board of the YWCA of Steubenville, was a member of the local senior citizens organization and was a bloodmobile volunteer. She is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s Club and the Ohio Valley Music Guild.
Her family includes three married daughters: Michelle Long of Austin, Texas, who has four children, Adam 16; Aiden 14; Katie 13; and Carter 11; daughter Kerri Means of Logan, Ohio; and Cindy Melgarejo of Dallas, whose son Benjamin recently celebrated his first birthday.
Sizemore is excited about her upcoming term as state president.
“I look forward to working with all clubs in all the communities. I plan to visit every club in the state and work with them to make a difference in GFWC Ohio. Together I feel we can make a difference.”
The club journey is open to other interested women.
“We are always looking for strong, independent women who would like to help out in their communities.”
For information on the GFWC, Sizemore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Kiaski can be contacted at email@example.com.)