ODN Chicago. Where Did It Come From?  History, 1975-93

By Sherry Camden Anders, edited by Bruce Mabee

Sherry wrote this in 1999.  Bruce used his brief career as a news editor to add (in italics and parentheses) guesses and facts that he could verify from his box of original materials. 

1975-1981 -- CODA

The Chicago OD Association. Larry Anders remembered "CODA" as training people interested in OD and change (yet, major OD people came and led).  The meetings were open sessions of personal sharing and discussion. CODA was no longer meeting by 1981.

Tom Chase, national ODN Conference Coordinator, invited Chicago OD people to create a planning committee to lead the 1982 Conference. Nancy Miller, VP of OD at Harris Bank, sponsored Tom (8/10/81), and then provided the Harris Bank as the planning center.

1982 -- "The Chicago Conference," A 14-Month Volunteer Marathon

Held in Lake Geneva at the Abbey Resort, the '82 Conference was the first national conference not held in the East or West of the US. It featured Marv Weisbord, Jean Houston and Irving Bluestone looking at OD and the labor movement. 

The planning committee:

Bruce Mabee (Co-Chair & Communications), Diane Brown (Co-Chair &"Women in OD" pre-conference), Julie Gordon (Co-Chair) and Sherry Camden & Susan Hooker (Social/Wellness), Jim Hooker, Deborah Griffin-Pittenger and Steve Grossman (Transportation/Logistics), Andy Stepelton and Nancy Neely (Finance). Lucy Chambers took Registration. Joe Baglio handled the Resource Center and Jim Donavanm, Program.  Tom Chase served as national advisor from New Hampshire. 

One month after the conference, volunteers met to debrief (11/16/82 at Harris Bank, then 12/14/82 in Lenore Borzak’s home). The 40 volunteers who planned and ran the conference were burnt out, yet folks with revitalized energy asked, "Isn't this the best time to start a Chicago ODN?” Joyce Hirsch volunteered to get the Chicago network started.

1983-85 -- The New Regional OD Network: Chicago

The first meeting of the Chicago OD Network was at Diane Carter’s home, 2/16/83. The format lasted until 1985:

1. Any attendee could suggest a topic, which the group prioritized and assigned a time slot.

2. Each person led his/her own topic.

3. 15 minutes to debrief.

Anyone who sent self-addressed post cards was notified of the next meeting location.

For the first few years, meetings attracted 10-15 people and mostly functioned as a self-facilitated support group.  Meetings were held in conference rooms of companies or sometimes in homes.  Many of the conference planning committee attended, others started coming, especially from the George Williams OD Master's Program. Sherry remembers well leading a meeting to create a mission for ODN/C (Wed, June 22, 1983):

     "This is where Larry Anders and I met for the first time! ODN meetings can be match makers!" (Sherry & Larry married a few years later.  Larry died peacefully with Sherry and his family around him in Nevada, March 3, 2015.)

Larry did a slide presentation on change later that year, as the meetings started to transition toward presenter-led programs.

1985-89 -- Programs and Membership Growth

Dee Burman and Bae Emilson got active, and the meetings took on a new role.  Dee again offered Harris Bank as a meeting place.  We decided to have officers (Sept, 1986).  Dee volunteered to be "Executive Director." Nancy Neely --VP Membership. Jerry Konecki--VP Finances.  Ira Tiffenberg--VP Programming.  Meetings were similar to those today, but attendees brought the food.  (During 1985-88, Dee...as leader...personally recruited over a hundred members. By 1990, ODNC had over 300 members.)

Bruce Mabee, who had designed the conference brochure in 1981, used a design process that combined Action Research with Graphic Design to develop the logo we use today for ODN/C.  Bruce remembers that we met at a McDonald's to look at his drawings!

1990 -- Elections

The first public election was held among ODNC members. Bruce - President, Sherry - VP,  ­­­Steve Andes - Treasurer, Carol Manzeske/Veronesi -Communications/Newsletter, Nancy Voss - Secretary & Marketing. Brad Barbeau – Treasurer; Marlena Ascher – Programs; Cynthia Stotlar – Membership. Strategic Planning was initiated, using a rapid-cycle Action Research approach.

1991 -- Center for Renewal

In the second election, most officers remained: Bruce Mabee–Pres; Sherry–VP; Steve Andes–Treasurer; Marlena Ascher/Audrey Denecke–Programs; Carole Veronesi–Newsletter; Nan Voss–Membership; Nancy Davis-Job Bank.. This Board found its vision in a phrase by Carole Veronesi that lasted over a decade: "A Center for Renewal."

We co-sponsored the first "special" program, "External & Internal OD Consultants," with Loyola at their Evanston campus.  25 people attended at $25 dollars each. Arthur Freedman and Sherry facilitated, among other things, an anonymous fee survey of all present. "How many days did you get paid for last year, and at what rate?" (Daily fees ranged from $100-$3,000, median around $1,000).

1992 -- OD Directory

Nancy Davis became the second elected President and John Cooper (who became president later) took on the role as Director of "Special Programs." We agreed a Vice President position was no longer needed. A Directory of OD & Chicago members was created.


Presidents, 1994-2012 (may be incomplete): Roger Marsh, John Cooper, Maggie Shreve, Cindy Aaronson, Julie Benesh, David Jewell, Chris Buss, Neesa Sweet, Joe Merton, Marilyn Carter, Don Kumler, Eric Sanders, and Maggie Shreve (again!) and now Mark Kaufman.

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