Honoring the past, marking change at YMA’s 25th annual meeting

Yates Mill Associates honored our longtime leaders and stalwart volunteers even as we made significant changes to the organization’s structure at the May 7 annual meeting.

Finley Boys honored

Saluting the Finley Boys: Bobby Brown, Alton Howard and Dick Thompson (seated) are honored by outgoing chairman Larry Hancock (rear).

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Yates Mill Associates, so our annual meeting was an appropriate time to express our gratitude to some of the people who have brought us success since our early days. You can read the full program and other notes from the meeting here.

We said a fond thank-you to the “Finley boys” — Bobby Brown, Alton Howard and J.D. “Dick” Thompson, whose association with Yates Mill was cemented through its past owner, legendary Raleigh businessman A.E. Finley. Bobby, Alton and Dick were instrumental in helping finance restoration of the mill and construction of the park’s A.E. Finley Center for Education and Research. All three have served on the YMA board and been vocal, enthusiastic champions for Yates Mill for many years.

We also thanked top-notch volunteer Arlene Lord, who dreamed up and now organizes the fall and winter craft sales, and who manages ticket sales for our spring Chickin Pickin’. Arlene received our prestigious Henry Marshall Award. This honor is named for the former superintendent of the N.C. State University Farm, a dedicated and tireless volunteer whose individual efforts for many years saved the decaying mill from an early demise. As an all-volunteer organization, YMA’s success still depends on the ideas, energy and dedication of people like Henry and Arlene, and we are grateful for all of them!

Dale Coats speaks

Dale Coats talks to members about public-private partnerships at other historic sites

Yates Mill Associates’ success also depends on excellent relationships with our partners, Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space, and N.C. State University. We were pleased to hear from Dale Coats, deputy director of North Carolina Historic Sites, with his perspective on successes and challenges in similar public-private partnership at various state historic sites and properties. We hope our team effort has helped inspire and educate other groups that hope to protect our historic and cultural treasures — and in the future we hope to enlist more groups in our work, including businesses and community organizations.

John Vandenbergh at annual meeting

Co-founder John Vandenbergh treats guests to a short history of YMA’s creation and early years.

Even as we acknowledge and honor YMA’s history and traditions, we recognize the need for change to keep up with changing times. That’s why the membership approved significant changes to the structure of YMA’s leadership. You can read the new bylaws here.¬†We switched the officers (president, vice president, secretary and treasurer) from a separately elected group to become regular members of the board of directors, effectively shrinking the leadership group from 21 people to a more manageable and nimble working group of 15 members.

We also created a new Advisory Council, where community leaders who want to support Yates Mill but can’t commit to a full board term may offer ideas and guidance to the working board, while acting as YMA ambassadors to the public, government, businesses and other groups. We’ll name members to this council in the coming year.

If you’re interested in helping Yates Mill Associates, we have many jobs to share. Some demand only a short commitment of perhaps a few hours, while others involve serving on standing committees, the board of directors or the advisory council. If you’re interested, drop us a note at to discuss how your skills and time can help meet our needs.

2014 annual meeting guests

Miller William Robbins with Jenny Haase (our 2013 volunteer of the year) and volunteers Allison Hughes and Jeanne Robbins. We love our volunteers!

Whether you volunteer, make annual donations or simply sing our praises to your friends and guests, Yates Mill Associates is grateful for your support. We hope to see you at Yates Mill soon — and in another 25 years to celebrate our golden anniversary!

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