From the Board – December, 2011

Only two people I know can make it snow on command – Mother Nature and Molly Blaisdell.
November’s BATW meeting was a colorful kickoff to the holiday season, complete with snow in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco. (See Georgia Hesse’s article for the full story.) But while the day’s events seemed so seamless and magical, the hard work that went into this meeting was very real. Thanks, again, to everyone who had a hand in planning our November trade show, panel and luncheon. It’s been a tremendous year of programs and mixers, and our “brand” is building every day.
Now, let’s go back about 28 years, to our humble beginnings. BATW began circa 1984 with a handful of aspiring travel writers, including Chris Baker and Elaine O’Gara. This small group—about six or seven people—took turns hosting meetings.
Patricia Lee remembers being introduced to the group through a travel writing class she was taking in San Francisco. “One of the students asked the teacher if she could send a paper around for people to sign up to meet at one another’s houses, to read scripts and talk about our writing.”
In those early days, much like today, the group was skewed heavily toward women. “There were just a few of us and one guy,” Lee says. Somehow, she says, she got “nudged” into running the meetings. “I did not want to be president. I was the chair person with the idea that, when we got a president, I wouldn’t be running things.”
Not surprisingly, Lee ended up running BATW in those early years—and loving every minute of it. By the mid-1980s, several other familiar names had joined, including Monica Conrady, Maxine Cass and Fred Gebhart, who helped BATW come up with its first set of bylaws.
Diane LeBow says that by the time she joined in the mid-to-late ’80s, there were about 30 writers in the group.
“We met at the Fort Mason Youth Hostel in S.F., mainly as a round-table discussion about what we were working on or where we were traveling,” she says. LeBow also remembers an occasional speaker, like the woman who talked to them about Italian bicycle tours.
Almost three decades later, we meet monthly in some of the most eclectic, interesting and elegant venues in the Bay Area. We are 175 members strong and growing. And we have the reputation of being a well-regarded, regional organization for talented writers, photographers and PR partners.
Kris and I are very proud to have been your co-presidents this year. We have had an exceptional board of directors, all of whom have agreed to return for another year. And we are blessed with a lot of other helpers who have made BATW prosper and grow.
Thank you to everyone who is a part of this wonderful organization. Have a joyous holiday season and safe travels.
—Ginny Prior

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