In May, Meredith Mull Aggarwal replaced Marie Kummerlowe as the new Delft MaMa Chairwoman. Delft MaMa has made many changes in the past few years as it takes on more activities serving the expat community in Delft. What does it take to steer the DMM ship? Lynette Croxford sat down with both women to talk about their experiences “behind the wheel”. You can also see Marie’s recap of 2018 here. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring. I wish the best of luck for both women in their roles!
by Lynette Croxford
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Marie Kummerlowe and Meredith Mull Aggarwal. Marie stepped down as the DMM Chairperson to make way for Meredith who will be heading up the Board in 2019. Both women have abundant experience in working with people, being part of humanitarian organisations and thereby building communities.
Passing the torch
Marie was Chairperson from 2017 to April 2019. From Marie’s point of view, she’s happy that DMM kept functioning as an organisation during her tenure. As she puts it: “This position is actually quite a big responsibility with many aspects to consider. At the beginning of my term many active members left or where less involved and we had to find new people to contribute. We added the Communications Coordinator position which helps the organisation a lot. We found someone who will relaunch the SLiDE (Soft landing in Delft) programme and is willing to take on the work involved.” In addition, all the main events continued. Under her tenure, DMM also applied to change the organisation to an ANBI entity, a public interest status with tax implications for donors.
Marie explained why stepped down as Chair: “I wasn’t sure I was staying in Delft. I also work 30 hours a week and for my work I travel frequently so I felt like I didn’t have enough time to concretely add anything new; an active chairperson could do a lot [more].” As to what attracted her in the first place; “I really profited from the offering. When my son was born, I wasn’t working, I didn’t know anyone in Delft so I went to the playgroups a lot. First, I became playgroup coordinator, I helped with the blog and when there were meetings seeking a new Chairperson I agreed to the position.” Marie is still Vice Chair and happy to stay involved if needed. Her main take-away message from her experience is one of reward and optimism; “It’s quite rewarding to be part of DMM. It was interesting to try to look at something strategically and coordinate people. I’ve learnt new skills, like recruitment. It’s great to keep in touch with people and meet a lot of people who are doing lots of different things for the community.”
A new captain
Next up, Meredith. I asked her what drew her to the position and what she brings to it; “I worked in non-profits in the US and had my own yoga business in India for 7 years. Lots of my work was with small grassroots non-profit companies and also nationally-funded organisations. I see what roles are needed and how organisations like this work. Those are the skills that drew me to the position. I’ve been here for one year only and once I’d read through it, I realised I could positively contribute. It would help me stay focussed, and be mutually beneficial. I’ve been involved in the playgroup and have been aware of DMM since August 2018. I discovered what an asset this organisation is to build your community.”
Vision for the future
The 2019 plans for DMM are already in place. Meredith elaborated by saying; “I have no wild changes to those plans. Just to further build relationships in the community and beyond and increase our ties with other organisations in Delft and further afield. Relaunching the SLiDE programme is a big one that will continue. I want to re-engage more people and strengthen the organisation internally by providing documentation and structure where needed.”
Meredith continues: “Each chairperson has added a little bit so then you can just build on what’s already there, adding where little things can be improved and try to follow the path that it’s already on. It’s an established organisation and it will keep moving because people are working on it but someone has to oversee the process. Whole social groups are built from this community. It reaches a lot of people and is a real time resource for good information, reviews and recommendations.”
Meredith said there is one major goal that she wants to achieve: “Deepening the community connections. I’d like to focus on bringing some of the people with older children into the programming. The website needs a refresh, to be a resource with more topical information rather than a presentation of the organisation as it currently is. We can improve the functionality and increase the education component of the mission. Heightening all the communications and programming is the main thing.” Meredith will start teaching a yoga class with a new studio opening in Rijswijk/Delft to keep expanding that experience.
Your role in DMM (yes, dear reader, you!)
One comment that came out of talking to these talented ladies is the need for feedback from the community. If you have suggestions, comments or recommendations please use the appropriate channels to let us know about your ideas. Volunteer positions are also still open, take a look here.
Originally from South Africa, Lynette moved to Delft from New Zealand in 2011. The majority of her time is spent working in Rotterdam in the Healthcare sector, but she also has 2 young daughters, both in school in Delft. Lynette’s background is varied, including creative and people-related experiences.