SGI-USA Advances with New Leadership and Nationwide Organization
At nationwide leaders' teleconferences on June 14 and 24, 2007, SGI-USA announced the implementation of a new organizational structure that consists of three large territories--East, Central and West. In a country as vast as the United States, it is extremely difficult to coordinate activities from one location. For SGI-USA to accommodate a growing membership, the three territories will have autonomous organizations that will provide for more direct, localized assistance to help volunteer leaders support districts and members.
As part of the reorganization, two new departments have been formed. The Lecturers Department will focus on developing leaders' abilities to lecture on Nichiren Daishonin's teachings and SGI President Ikeda's ideals in a clear and compelling manner. Greg Martin and Phyllis Goodson will head the new department. The Peace and Community Relations Department will concentrate on communicating the SGI's vision for peace by building relationships within local communities and in the greater American society. Department staff will work with scholars, activists and community leaders to create and further solidify a culture of peace in the United States. Ian McIlraith will chair this new department.
New leadership appointments coincide with the new structure. Kimberly Hermann, formerly the SGI-USA young women's division (YWD) leader, is now youth division leader. Nathan Gauer is young men's division leader and Vinessa Shaw is the new YWD leader. Leaders were also announced for the newly created territories. Mr. Gauer, a graduate of Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, just recently earned his masters degree in education from Harvard University. Ms. Shaw is a professional actress, based in Hollywood, California.
The new youth leaders each expressed their resolve to help youth members develop their practice and understanding of Nichiren Buddhism, which will serve as a foundation for confidently confronting and surmounting obstacles and challenging personal dreams while at the same time inspiring strong hope among their families and friends.
In a message presented at a nationwide teleconference announcing the reorganization, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda offered the following encouragement: "With the power and passion that originates from the districts, and involving many new and capable people, please generate a broad new groundswell of progress."
[Adapted from an article in the July 6, 2007 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA. Also reported in the June 22, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan.]