Darien Cotillion By-laws

ARTICLE I.   Name and Purpose
The name of this organization is The Darien Cotillion and its purpose is to conduct at least five formal ballroom dinner dances yearly for the social enjoyment of its members.

ARTICLE II.   Officers
Section 1.  The officers of The Darien Cotillion (Cotillion) will be members, usually couples, who will serve as President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Program Chair, Reservations Chair, and Membership Chair. Officers will not hold more than one office at a time.  

Section 2.  The President, as the chief executive officer of the Cotillion, will preside at all meetings; briefly address those in attendance at each dance; and provide a written annual report to the membership each July discussing significant developments, future plans and the Treasurer’s financial report for the past fiscal year.    

Section 3.  The Vice President will have all the powers and perform the duties of the President in the latter’s absence. The Vice President will ensure there are greeters, table decorations, name tags, table listings, and place cards for each dance primarily through volunteers from the membership.

Section 4.  The Secretary will record and keep minutes of all meetings. The Secretary will retain all meeting minutes, the current bylaws and officer job descriptions, and other records not retained by other officers.

Section 5.  The Treasurer will receive and deposit the checks members send in for the annual membership fees each fall and the dance fees for each dance to the Cotillion’s bank account; pay the venues, bands, and other expenses authorized by the Board; prepare a financial report to be mailed out with the President’s letter in July; and perform other usual duties pertaining to the office.

Section 6.  The Program Chair will propose the schedule of events for the upcoming season to the Board for approval; contract with the venues for the dance dates, menus and other site requirements; contract with the bands and inform them of our preferred dances and tempos; and monitor and coordinate the timing of the meal service and music at the dances.

Section 7.  The Reservations Chair will receive and record the dance reservations and checks; give all checks received to the Treasurer; communicate the number of attendees and food selections to the Program Chair; and make the seating assignments by table for the members and their guests at each dance.

Section 8.  The Membership Chair will maintain and report all required membership information; prepare and mail the announcement and reservation information for each dance; mail a current list of members to the membership each year with the second dance mailing; seek out prospective members and offer membership to guests who have been sponsored by a member and approved for membership; develop and mail the annual member renewal letter; and collect and give the annual membership fees to the Treasurer.

ARTICLE III.   Organization and Operation
Section 1.  The Darien Cotillion will be managed by a Board of Directors consisting of the officers. The Board will have the powers defined under the statute of the State of Connecticut for a not-for-profit corporation to a) approve members and officers, and b) make rules for its own governance and the operation of the Cotillion.

Section 2.  Board members will be elected every year to serve one-year terms beginning in the new fiscal year. Members will be eligible for election to the Board when they have been members of the Cotillion for at least one year. To maintain a broadly experienced Board, Board members may serve consecutive terms and will be encouraged to remain on the Board multiple years and to rotate officer positions. Officers should normally not hold the same office for more than three years or serve on the Board for more than eight years.

Section 3.  Normally, when members are needed to fill one or more vacancies on the Board for the next fiscal year, the Board will appoint an Officer Search Committee (OSC) in January to find qualified and willing candidates. The OSC will be composed of three non-Board members, some or all of whom may be past officers.  Board members will be appointed by the President to serve on the OSC only if not enough non-Board members can be found.  The Board in consultation with the OSC will select the officers to be presented to the membership for approval.  OSC members will be limited to serving four consecutive years. When the OSC is not needed, such as when there are no Board vacancies or qualified candidates are already available, the current Board will select the slate of officers to be presented to the membership for approval.  The Board-approved slate of officers and the agenda for the membership meeting to elect the officers will be sent to all members with the reservations mailing for the last dance of the fiscal year.

Section 4.  The President will conduct a short membership meeting at the last dance of each fiscal year to present and elect the new slate of officers. The officers will be elected to the Board if a majority of members present at the dance approve them.

Section 5.  Officers who cease to be members of the Cotillion will cease to be officers of the Board.

Section 6.  When officers resign prior to the completion of their term of office, the President may appoint members, with the advice and consent of the Board, to fill the vacancy.

Section 7.  The Board will meet during the week following each dance at an agreed upon location, usually a Board member’s home, to review the previous dance, plan for upcoming dances, and act upon any additional business of the Cotillion.

Section 8.  The Board will designate a bank or banks in which the funds of the Cotillion will be deposited. The Board will determine the manner in which disbursement of funds will be executed.

Section 9.  A majority of the Board constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business at any Board meeting. A vote of a majority, a quorum being present, constitutes an act of the Board.

Section 10.  The fiscal year of the Cotillion is July 1 to June 30.  

ARTICLE IV.   Membership  
Section 1.  Any couple or individual can become a member of the Cotillion upon being sponsored by a member, invited by the Board, and paying the annual membership fee. Individuals must bring a partner to the dances.

Section 2.  New members joining after the season has begun will pay a pro-rated portion of the annual membership fee. The pro-rated amount will be based on the number of remaining dances.

Section 3.  All memberships will be for a period of one year, beginning in the fall prior to the first dance. Memberships are not transferable.

Section 4.  Renewal of membership for each year will be subject to the approval of the current Board and payment of the annual membership fee by the due date.

Section 5.  Members may be expelled from the Cotillion for cause by a majority vote of the Board. In general, the cause will be for violation of the bylaws, or conduct incompatible with the best interests of the Cotillion.    

Section 6.  Membership may be limited to a number agreed upon by the Board. The purpose of any imposed limit will be to accommodate the existing membership within the capacity constraints of the dance facilities.  If a limit is in effect, a waiting list will be maintained to accommodate those interested in becoming members. Special membership situations will be handled by the Board on a case by case basis.  If a waiting list is in existence, at the Board’s discretion, a select number (depending on the capacity of the venue) of those on the list will be invited to attend a dance as guests of the Board.  Waiting list attendees will pay the same dance fee as members. If a waiting list is in existence and a vacancy occurs during the dance year, the vacancy will be filled from the waiting list. Membership charge for new member will be prorated according to the number of dances remaining.

Section 7.  Members are encouraged to take an active part in the management of the Cotillion by communicating improvements and concerns to the Board officers and volunteering to serve on the Board. Section 8. In the event of a divorce or breakup of a member couple, each person will have the opportunity to be a member of The Darien Cotillion. The Board must be notified of this event and of their desire to each become a member.  Dues will have to be paid by each person. If it is mid-season the dues already paid will be for one person and the other person will pay a pro-rated amount.

ARTICLE V.   Dances
Section 1.  The Cotillion will plan to conduct at least five formal dances a year. Usually, two will be held in the fall, one being the holiday dance in December, two in the winter, and one in the spring.

Section 2.  Dances will be held at private clubs and hotels in and around Fairfield County, CT.

Section 3.  The dress code is black tie and evening gown except when specified otherwise by the Board.

Section 4.  Dances may be limited to members-only by the Board. If a dance is oversubscribed for the capacity of the facility, reservations will be honored on a first-in basis.  Members will be given priority over guests as long as the member’s reservation is received by the due date. Section 5. One or more dances during a year may be a combined dance with another dance club. For those dances, the Cotillion will invite the other club’s members to attend a Cotillion dance, and in return the other club will invite the Cotillion membership to attend one of its dances.

ARTICLE VI.   Guests
Section 1.  Guests of members may attend only one dance. If a guest wishes to attend future dances, the guest must be sponsored by a member and join the Cotillion.  Section 2.  The guests attending a dance will be reviewed by the Board at the following Board Meeting.  If no Board Member raises an objection, the Membership Chair will be instructed by the Board to call the couple who sponsors the guest and have them reach out to their guest to offer the guest the opportunity to either join the Cotillion or place their name on the waiting list if one is in existence. The member will report back to the Membership Chair what the guests desire to do.

Section 3.  No member will invite more than one guest couple per dance without the prior approval of the Board.

Section 4.  House guests of members may attend a dance as a single individual. However, no other guests may attend without a dance partner.  

Section 1.  An annual membership fee will be established by the Board to cover the cost of the bands, centerpieces and miscellaneous expenses during the fiscal year.

Section 2.  Members will be notified of the annual membership fee and due date for payment in the annual letter from the President sent in the summer of each year.

Section 3.  A dance fee for members and guests will be determined by the Board to cover the cost of each dance venue and meal. Members and guests will pay the dance fee when making reservations for each dance.

Section 4.  Members and guests who are unable to attend a dance after reservations have been made will not be reimbursed unless the Reservations Chair has been notified at least five days in advance and the host venue will forego the cost of the dinners.

ARTICLE VIII.   Amendment of the Bylaws
Section 1.  These bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the membership present at a dance, provided that notice of a vote on the amendment was given to all members at least 21 days in advance. Section 2.  These bylaws supersede all previous bylaws of the Cotillion and any organizations that may have merged into the Cotillion.
Note: These bylaws were amended and approved by the membership on October 14, 2017.