This letter was prepared in draft just before we all realised the crisis we were all facing with COVID-19. Since then, the world has changed and, like so many others in this new world, we have been learning to cope with new challenges, to self-isolate and change our social and work habits and to deal with uncertainty at a level never previously experience. Now as we come to terms with how long it might take us to get out of limbo and into a “new normal” we are taking strength from one another and working to ensure that our long term strategies and the progress we have made through our work over the years are not sucked into the vortex of the pandemic but can instead be used to underpin our responses and guide us through whatever happens next, based as always on good practice, solid evidence and deep and enduring relationships and partnerships.

Over the course of 2019, WICI underwent many changes. Along with many NPOs internationally, WICI saw a shrinkage of funding. We struggled to meet this challenge and tried many avenues, for the most part without success. While our work is always valued and we were engaged through contract work, core funding has been impossible to find and we have had to change the way we operate, to keep going and to ensure that the WICI institutional memory and learning continues to have a space in public debate and policy advocacy.

We are enormously grateful that Kathryn Travers, for over 10 years our Executive Director, remained committed to WICI beyond our ability to remunerate her appropriately. Kathryn is with good reason synonymous with WICI; she represents our philosophy and is widely respected in the organisation, locally and internationally. Kathryn’s integrity was as visible in her leadership of our wonderful interns as in her close relationships with global partners, as in her contract delivery on tight budgets and in presentations to audiences of all kinds.

Kathryn had to resign as ED of WICI, which is of course a sad loss to us. The Board is however very grateful that Kathryn has retained her strong connection with WICI and that she has agreed to be a Special Advisor to the Board.

The International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) had long generously hosted WICI including our interns, in their Montreal offices. In 2019, ICPC moved to new office space and offered to extend their hospitality and have us move with them. We have deep gratitude to ICPC and hope that our decision not to take up their offer was made in the context that it would not in any way fracture our long and very valuable relationship with them.

The Board of WICI continues our commitment to deliver important work in the sector. This year started positively and hopefully and despite the setbacks we have and are all experiencing, we know that together, we can overcome and partner with you in extending the knowledge and voice of women in cities, everywhere. We look forward to working with you in the future.

Barbara Holtmann

President, Board of Directors

Women in Cities International