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An ode to the passing of the torch

All organizations go through changes. Some (like people) more gracefully than others. It’s a mixed bag of emotions during a transition from founder to stage two. One such organization begins its own version 2.0 on Monday.

June 1st marks the first day at ReMerge for its new Executive Director. The ED who started when the program was in its embryonic stage is retiring. Terri Woodland led the charge, along with founding Council members Teresa Rose Crook, Tricia Everest, Sarah Roberts, Meg Salyer, Cynda Ottaway, Bob Ross, George Young, Bill Citty, and David Harlow. At the end of 2019, the last of these founding (now board) members rolled off.

Every one of them left their mark on our community and helped usher in a new era when they took the bold step of seeing criminal justice differently. We are better than we can possibly imagine because of their vision, hard work, and faith in their fellow human beings.

Marnie Taylor and then I arrived on the ReMerge Council several months after they came together to do something bold - to buck an archaic, broken system that judged people by their worst mistake. That tore apart instead of building up.

Their work continues and each has gone on to even greater levels of engagement and innovative work to make a difference in ways that change us for the better now and in the future.

Well done my good and faithful servants. Terri and founding Council members, I am honored beyond words to have worked beside you. Current and past Board members, it was my privilege to be at the table with you and help move ReMerge forward as an example of treatment, recovery, and hope conquering punishment, prejudice, and disdain.

Below is a note I sent last week to the incoming Executive Director, Jenna Morey. With change comes responsibility. May we all take responsibility for the change we want to see in the world - much like Terri, Teresa, Tricia, Meg, Cynda, Bob, George, Bill, and David did.

I'm Ginny Bass Carl. I had the immense honor and joy of serving on the ReMerge Board (and before that, the Council). I was board chair in 2016 and am still blown away by the growth of the organization! It's like having a child in a weird way - certainly in how proud I am of the organization, the program, the staff and, most importantly, the ladies.

Before that, I was on the board of Sunbeam Family Services when Terri was COO there. Needless to say, I've had the great privilege of being a first-hand witness with many others to the paradigm shift the leaders of our state and city are driving to change the conversation about criminal justice and the resulting programs, like ReMerge.

I want to welcome you to ReMerge and congratulate you on becoming its second executive director!! You are in for a ride and have the rare opportunity to be a part of the change that is needed to take our community into the future where we think and act differently. Where we are smart about crime and empathetic with our people. Where we understand the devastating effects of trauma and constantly seek answers that lead to recovery and resilience. Where we leave behind dualistic thinking and embrace nuanced conversations. Where we look into the eyes of others and see ourselves. Where we lead with grace, love, hope, and caring. Where fear gives way to affirming. Where division yields to collaboration. Where admitting mistakes is honorable and being vulnerable is courageous.

Welcome to the world of ReMerge, justice reform, ACEs, the science of hope, the support of the best community in the world, and the hardest job I'm sure you'll ever have.

There will be tears, frustrations, setbacks, and long hours. But you'll be surrounded by true sheroes - the ReMerge ladies - and the knowledge you are doing important work.

Those who've gone before you have high expectations and exacting demands that are clothed in grace, encouragement, support, and understanding. The ReMerge community is unique and you are welcomed with open arms into it.

I look forward to meeting you and I cheer loudly for you in your new endeavor!!

Another change has occurred this week - my website finally went live!! (thank you, Robyn and Campbell and Company!!!). My previous newsletters can be found there under “Blog” along with information about my mission to help nonprofits be better and do better. Thanks to many for your kind words of encouragement. Be blessed, my friends.

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