2023 IRTA Convention Wrap-Up

The Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) celebrated its 2023 biennial Convention at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, IL, on October 16th and 17th. This event saw participation from over 250 retired educators from across Illinois. One of the primary focuses of the Convention was the IRTA’s Delegate Assembly, where they proceeded to elect their officers and area representatives for the upcoming term. Those elected, who will commence their roles on January 1, 2024, include Mike Schmidt as President, Rainy Kaplan as Vice President, Donnie Ostrom as Treasurer, LaVonne Chaney as Secretary, Wendy Wiegers as Area 2 Representative, Deloris Turner as Area 4 Representative, and Mary May as Area 6 Representative.

The Convention was marked with various highlights, the most prominent being a live video presentation by Tom Morris, a renowned public philosopher. He has the distinction of delivering over 1,200 presentations globally and is recognized for his expertise in areas such as success, change, and innovation. On Monday evening, a special banquet was organized where the IRTA acknowledged unit honorees for their relentless dedication to the Association, their local chapters, and broader communities. This event also honored the 2021 and 2022 “Units of Distinction.” This acknowledgment is part of a program designed to commend the top-performing IRTA units in the state. During the banquet, Secretary Doris Heaton, who has dedicated over 20 years to the IRTA, received a special tribute. Another significant acknowledgment was for Jim Bachman, nearing his two-decade service with the IRTA, who will soon retire at the year’s end.

Tuesday’s session brought about significant decisions. The assembly approved a resolution concerning an increase in membership dues. Effective January 1, 2024, the revised dues structure will be: an annual fee of $50, a monthly deduction of $3.50 (amounting to $42 annually), Life Dues at $600, an annual recurring fee of $46, and an annual associate recurring fee of $35. Associate Life dues will be priced at $200. It’s important to note that the 5-Year Dues option will be removed starting in 2024.

In terms of constitutional changes, several pivotal amendments were made. Future proposals concerning dues increases will be categorized under the Standing Rules, which will also specify the involvement parameters for the Finance Committee along with a stipulated timeframe. Secondly, prior to each Biennial Convention, active IRTA members shall carry out a series of actions (by electronic or paper ballot): electing Officers and Area Representatives (in their respective areas) and amending the constitution. Thirdly, the Constitution defines the standing committees as: Finance, Legislative, Member Benefits, Membership, and Leadership Development (previously known as Nominations). A further breakdown specifies that the Finance and Leadership Development Committees will be constituted by a chairperson and a voting member from each area. In contrast, the Legislative, Member Benefits, and Membership Committees will be composed of a chair, the corresponding local unit chair, and any other members expressing interest in joining.

Concluding the events of the Convention, Jan Niccum emerged as the winner of the IRTA Foundation quilt raffle, a venture that successfully raised $2,200 for the cause. This achievement was made possible, in part, due to the commendable efforts of Kay Ostrom and Glenda Flaherty, who not only created the beautiful quilt but also managed the raffle booth effectively. As the Convention wrapped up, the organizers expressed profound gratitude to AMBA for their unwavering partnership over the years and heartfelt thanks to all the attendees whose presence and involvement ensured a successful 2023 IRTA Convention.