Operational needs: Help make UMRA run

This will be a new regular column where you can find current organizational tasks that need your help! 

UMRA Membership Database research project 

Our current membership database was built in 2015 and is co-supported with assistance from the (then student) developer, Max, who has since then graduated, has been working for many years as a highly paid web developer (!!), and has a life. UMRA doesn't want to continue to keep Max tied to this aging database. For that reason, and other possible economies and niceties, we want to replace the current UMRA online membership/database and, at the same time, reassess the URVC volunteer database. 

The first step is to define requirements for the UMRA member database and event registration system; as well as the URVC volunteer database. Next we will begin comparing third party or configurable software/databases to find a best match for our combined software and financial requirements. 

We are looking for people to begin work on these first two tasks, requirements definition and research. If you are interested, please contact Cathy Lee Gierke [email protected].

Those who are interested may choose to stay on for future tasks such as implementation of the new application, user testing, and eventually ongoing usage and maintenance.

Co-producer for UMRA workshop and forum webinars

Working in collaboration with the UMRA Zoom producer and technical director, the co-producer is responsible for

  • scheduling the pre-event technical rehearsal for each Zoom webinar (eight workshops and two forums, September–May); 
  • writing and emailing the program running order to all panelists in advance of the technical rehearsal; 
  • reviewing the opening/closing script written by the event host; 
  • coaching “on camera” panelists during the technical rehearsal to adjust their cameras and/or microphones, if necessary, to make sure they can been clearly seen and heard during the webinar
  • and communicating with the panelists before and during each webinar via email, phone, text, or chat, as needed.

If you enjoy working on a team and are comfortable giving direction to others to help ensure that events run smoothly, the UMRA Zoom team wants you. Join the fun! 

To learn more, email Julie Sweitzer, UMRA president-elect and Program Committee chair at [email protected].

Host Team openings

HOST TEAM LEAD serves as organizer for the Host Team

1. Serves as main contact for Host Team 
2. Creates agendas and chairs Host Team meetings, as needed 
3. Ensures Host Team functions smoothly 
4. Leads efforts to recruit Host Team members 
5. Manages Host Team budget


VENUE LEAD – Serves for 6 Forum Luncheons: Sept, Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr, May (One-year commitment)

1. Selects and confirms menu with venue, including beverages 
2. Forwards menu to newsletter editor by 10th of month prior to Forum 
3. Confirms requests for room set-up with venue including reservation table, display tables, new member orientation tables, podium, microphone, reserved-table sign 
4. Answers questions and solves issues in dining room 
5. Encourages guests to takes their seats to begin plated service 
6. Confirms Forum dates with venue


RESERVATIONIST - Serves for 6 Forum Luncheons: Sept, Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr, May (One-year commitment) Could be combined with Name Tag Producer.

1. Responds to & resolves questions from members regarding Forum reservations 
2. Uses the UMRA database to manage the Forum reservation process. 
3. Adds names of UMRA speakers & guests to the Forum reservation list 
4. Forwards reservation numbers with dietary requests (and names) to the venue lead. 
5. Forwards reservation rooster to Name Tag Producer. 
6. Provides reservation rooster for Welcome Table


NAME TAG PRODUCER – Serves for 6 Forum Luncheons: Sept, Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr, May and 3 Special Social Events. (One-year commitment) Could be combined with Reservationist. 

1. Produces name tags for Forum Luncheons (6) 
2. Produces name tags using reservation rooster in UMRA database. (Currently using UMN Print Services to print name tags. Jeff Whiteside is contact) 
3. Adds ribbons and new member dots to name tags, as appropriate 
4. Brings name tags to Forums. 
5. Orders blank labels for name tags Avery 5395. 
6. Comfort using Excel is helpful.



Make your own discoveries in Portugal in 2025 on this journey to medieval monasteries, fertile vineyards and cities that are equal parts history and modern energy. Deadline to express an interest is Friday June 7, 2024.


Spend eight nights in Madrid and Barcelona in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Embrace the colorful history of the Canadian Maritime provinces for 11 nights in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Spend four nights in Québec City in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Spend 9 nights on the Douro River in Portugal in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Embrace and explore Mexico City as it showcases all facets of Mexico’s national character in 2025. Deadline to express an interest is Friday, June 7, 2024.


Bright and bold living history awaits you in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


The election of UMRA officers and new board members for 2024–25 will be conducted via an online poll from May 13 to 19, with the results to be announced at our annual meeting on May 21. Look for the ballot in your email inbox on May 13. Diane Young has been nominated to be president-elect.


“I convinced myself I could handle this problem without support groups or doing additional research, but that’s only because I didn’t want to make it any more real than it already was. Denial comes in many forms, and one is to avoid thinking about the problem any more than need be.” —Alice A. Larson


Meet UMRA member Peter Moe. He retired in 2023 after a career that spanned nearly half a century at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and is credited with developing the “Arb” into one of the few in the U.S. with world-class fruit and landscape breeding programs.


The University Retirees Volunteer Center (URVC) has welcomed two new members with valuable skills and experience to the URVC Leadership Council: Lynn Slifer and Jeanne Jacobson.


The University plans to remove retirees from the internet identity domain on December 7. UMRA has advocated for ensuring continued access to this identity (including email, Google Workspace, and associated services), citing University retirees’ enduring contributions to and engagement with the University. Thus far, our efforts have not prompted any change of plans. 


Leading the online Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays has been a labor of love for Kris Bettin. Alas, a change in family needs has necessitated her retirement. So, JOIE is seeking a new leader to join a savvy editorial committee of five and bring fresh ideas for continued development of the UMRA-sponsored journal.


If you’re looking for an opportunity to explore your photographic interests, hone your photographic skills, and hear what other retirees are up to, the UMRA Photo Club is a great place to be. We have fun! And whatever your skill level, there is room for everybody. 


Soon you will receive an email or letter inviting you to renew your UMRA membership for the 2024–25 year. Please renew before you get busy with your summer activities. Your support helps to make our programs and many other member benefits possible!


This will be a new regular column where you can find organizational tasks that need your help! We are currently looking for help researching a new UMRA Membership Database and URVC volunteer database, and a co-producer for UMRA's Zoom webinars. See more details: