The League of Women Voters Maryland held their 2017 Convention at the picturesque Washington College in Chestertown from June 9th to June 11th. Lively discussions culminated in the election of new officers, a new board, and the adoption of several proposed studies and action items. Amidst all the decisions and discussions, I still had plenty of opportunity for informal exchanges between local leaguers.
The Saturday morning session, which formally opened the Convention with kind introductory remarks delivered by William Pickrum, President of the Kent County Commission, was productive and efficient.
Saturday’s lunch break was used as an occasion for workshopping. Attendees could chose a table based on topic, and then participate in a focused discussion around that concept. Being new to LWV, I was hoping for some clarifications on some of the issues I would be voting on the following day. I joined an informal discussion formed originally to focus on the preparation of the LWVMD Primary Election Study Part II presentation for the following day but was broadened to an overview of the process by which the LWV adopts and acts on studies. More experienced leaguers were helpful and supportive of new leaguers, like myself, while patiently and thoroughly answering our questions.
After the lunch break, outgoing Co-President Nancy Soreng presented a video to open a conversation regarding the many challenges facing local leagues. The Board of Directors is committed to working with the Local Leagues in addressing many of those concerns. Attendees then began to offer some of their most immediate difficulties while incoming Presidents Elaine Apter and Richard Willson recorded them to present to the board. Some of the recurring issues mentioned were engaging members, recruiting younger members, and fund raising.
A successful day behind us, we gathered for a reception and banquet. Each Local League had an opportunity to present a few successes from the past year during a Roll Call at the reception. It was wonderful to see each league take pride in their accomplishments as well as gain ideas and insights from the successes of other leagues.
Key Note Speaker Sheila Bair, President of Washington College and former chair of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, was the highlight of the banquet, speaking about her experiences during the financial crisis of 2008 and the future of student loan debt.
Sunday morning provided a choice between two workshops. I attended “NationBuilder: Using the League website platform for communications, and working with membership and donations,” which gave me the opportunity to acquaint myself with the technological tools of LWV. Despite that tech workshops are always a challenge, and especially so when there is such a spread of technological abilities among the attendees, I managed to learn to navigate NationBuilder and look forward to contributing my skills to my local league. (Calvert)
During the final plenary session, a new board was elected and the delegation voted to adopt four of the proposed studies discussed the previous day. There was also the presentation and adoption of two action items, and finally the newly elected presidents received directions from the body. With the completion of business, the Convention closed, immediately after which the new Board met over lunch to determine the details of the 2017 retreat. I was inspired by the depth and breadth of leaguers’ commitment to education and activism and am thrilled to begin work on the State Board.
Submitted by Liz Demulling
Four studies were adopted at Convention 2017 in Chestertown!
Click here to read more and to sign up!
***Not familiar with League lingo like "Study & Consensus"?
Well, studies are adopted when voting delegates from Local Leagues at Convention decide they would like to see LWVMD take a position on an item, or sometimes, simply educate members and the public further about an issue. Click here to read LWVUS' explain the study process at the national level. This detailed description will give you some idea about what participating in a study entails.
And consensus? Click here to learn more about what we mean when we say we've reached a consensus.
48 delegates had fun networking on Friday, June 9th (with a walking tour of downtown Chestertown, a Tea at the White Swan Tavern, a river cruise or a creekside picnic), followed by a day and a half of dialogue produced agreement to tackle FOUR NEW STUDIES, a new LWVMD Board, a new procedure for maintaining memberships, a remarkable address from Washington College's president on innovation in ways to fund college tuition, and an overall focus on making the League sustainable going forward! Click on the "Read More" link to see our study options and to sign up to help!Read more
At Convention 2017, it was announced that Maryland is simplifying the process for tracking League membership. Going forward, local leagues will add and edit member information directly in the NationBuilder software that runs our websites, communicates and tracks our contacts. Rather than have each local league enter data in the LWVUS database local leagues will work directly with NationBuilder to create one-stop membership management controlled and perfected at the local league level. LWVUS will modify their software so that Maryland can upload membership to the national database.
Local leagues with questions about the new process should email email@example.com.
This is the last message we will be sending to you via SBL. It was an honor serving as your co-presidents for the past two years. It has been wonderful seeing the new faces in your Leagues and growing our relationships with long-time members.
This memorial is planned for a park near where the suffragists were imprisoned for silently picketing the White House in support of the right to vote for women. The suffering of these and other women across the country who led the way to establish our right to vote is being recognized through this memorial planned for a riverside park in Lorton, Va. where suffragists were imprisoned, brutalized and force fed. To see the park setting and central figure of the suffragist who was hung by her wrists from the ceiling of her cell, go to www.suffragistmemorial.org . Too few of our history books record the full extent of their suffering.
Members and friends of the Maryland League contributed $1,835 ($835 past our goal!). Our League will now be named on the wall of donors at the memorial.
Every year the League of Women Voters of Maryland (LWVMD) plans a trip to the United States Capitol to lobby their senators and representatives with long-serving LWVUS Lobby Corps Chair and member, Carole Conors. This event offers LWVMD members an insider’s view of Capitol Hill. It includes intimate meetings with the busy legislators and staff of the Maryland delegation to Washington D.C. In this current climate of renewed political activism, the LWVMD group that visited Capitol Hill reached 19 members, and sometimes called for creative seat-arrangement adjustments in order for the legislators’ offices to receive this energized bunch of Leaguers.
Though April showers may come your way
They bring the flowers that bloom in May.
So if it’s raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn’t raining rain you know,
(it’s raining violets).
Lyrucs by B.G DeSylva, music by L. Silvers
Yes, spring is here at long last and it’s time once again to hold our annual meetings to plan for the future. Members of the State Board extend our congratulations to all of the local leagues for another successful year. Elsewhere in this publication, you will find the dates for the annual meetings of each of our local leagues. You will be happy to know that all over the country and here in Maryland, we are finding that people are looking for an organization like the League of Women Voters that works for the benefit of people who want to vote and provides the information that voters need to vote intelligently. We have witnessed increased membership in local leagues which is being duplicated around the country.
While local leagues are planning for the future, so too is the State Board. This year is convention year! We are holding our convention at George Washington College in Chestertown, MD, June 9-11. We are thrilled to have as our featured speaker President Sheila Bair of Washington College at our banquet on Saturday evening of the convention. Previous to her present demanding role as college president, she was director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation during the 2008+ financial crisis and authored the book The Bullies of Wall Street and other publications. We are especially pleased that she will answer questions while she is with us, so have your questions ready. Members of the Kent County League are planning an excellent convention that is more affordable than some in the past and full of activities .Plan to join us as early as Friday evening, June 9th and stay until Sunday afternoon to participate in sessions that will bring you up to date on issues of importance to all of us as well as provide the opportunity to attend the banquet to hear our speaker. Additional information, including how to register, is available elsewhere in this State Board Letter.
We will have much more to say about our legislative priorities in an upcoming issue of The Voter but we are very pleased that the legislature passed legislation to ban fracking and are very disappointed to report that they failed once again to pass a reasonable measure to accomplish redistricting despite all of our efforts coordinated with other organizations with views similar to ours. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn sine die on April 10th. You can find our testimony on issues which arose in the General Assembly so far at www.lwvmd.org/testimony .
See you at annual meetings and convention!
Barbara Schnackenberg Nancy Soreng
We continue to be impressed and thrilled by the dedication of League volunteers. Over 60 of you signed up for Legislative Day and your enthusiastic participation in the day’s events was very rewarding to the organizers. To date, we have submitted testimony on nearly 70 bills all of which was initiated and written by volunteers. Our reporters for Report from State Circle have produced four issues and written about more than 250 bills. You have responded to action alerts, shown up at the Fracking Ban Rally and Redistricting Day. League members truly exemplify what it means to be civically engaged.
This urge to “do something” to improve democracy seems to be spreading as many local Leagues have experienced an up-tick in people interested in joining the League They seem to want to learn more about how government works and how they can participate in making sure that policies and programs that they care about stay in place. LWVMD and LWVUS are discussing strategies to help local Leagues make the best of this exciting opportunity. We are planning to have a discussion about this at the LWVMD convention in June, but may be sharing information with you before then. Stay tuned.
This issue of State Board letter has information about a number of upcoming events that I hope you will have the opportunity to attend.
- On April 8th, the League of Women Voters of the National Capital Area is hosting a A Place to Call Home: Affordable Housing Forum.
- Carole Conors will be taking League members to Capitol hill to visit the offices of Maryland’s members of Congress on April 26th.
- And the culminating event of our work year will be the LWVMD Convention from June 9-11 in beautiful Chestertown, Maryland. More information about these events is in our newsletter and on our website LWVMD.org.
Nancy and Barbara
February seems like such a boring month. In astrology, it is represented by a fish. It’s usually a cold month with too many more weeks of bad weather conditions that sometimes inconvenience us. While February 2017 has been unusually warm in Maryland, elsewhere there have been tragic floods, frigid temperatures, and snow or rain in abundance. Most years we spend this month looking forward to March and the promise of spring. But perhaps we should reconsider.
February is Black History month, when we celebrate such Americans as Ida B. Wells, a founder of the NAACP and journalist who chronicled in scathing terms the history of mistreatment of Black Americans. The Ida B. Wells award is conferred by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to journalists who have worked to increase opportunities for Black journalists.
We celebrate Valentine’s Day, established on February 14th because, it is alleged, this is the day when birds traditionally begin to find their mates for the spring season. There are many references to various stories of Saints Valentine from which one
can pick the story one prefers. The tradition of sending valentine cards seems to have originated in England in the mid-18th century.
For League members, February 14th is the anniversary of our founding, our 97th birthday this year. Thanks to Carrie Chapman Catt we have a strong organization with the purpose of intelligent voting. To that end we have maintained our nonpartisanship, providing voters with information about candidates in the candidates own words.
The pictures of Mrs. Catt most often available make her look like someone from two centuries ago, when in fact she lived until March 1947, was a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, and became a peace activist in her later years. In 1933 she sent to Adolph Hitler a letter from the Protest Committee of Non-Jewish Women Against the Persecution of Jews in Germany and continually campaigned for the admittance of Jews to the United States who were being persecuted in Europe. She was also a staunch supporter of the United Nations.
Perhaps we should re-evaluate our misgivings about February when there is so much to celebrate. Nevertheless, we will no doubt still look forward to spring.
In League, Barbara Schnackenberg and Nancy Soreng LWVMD Co-Presidents
There were two trainings offered during Council this year, one on setting a local website up to handle membership renewals (Power Point version/PDF version) and a second on Maryland’s Health After Implementation of Health Care Reform (also offered in Power Point and PDF versions.
The League joined 38 other civil rights, faith, labor, humanitarian, social justice, and immigrant and refugee service provider organizations to send an appeal to Governor Hogan to reconsider his statement asking that Syrian refugees not to be directed to our state, and to stand with his constituents in upholding the proud tradition of welcoming with open arms those who flee persecution and death. Read our letter here.
Thirty State Leagues signed a letter to officials at the Environmental Protection Agency recommending key ways their Congress-mandated report on fracking needs to be improved. Read the letter here.
On July 16, LWVMD and our Tame the Gerrymander coalition partners commemorated the birthday of Elbridge Gerry, the namesake of the practice of gerrymandering election districts. Featured at the event was a chef who shared his recipe for Gerrymander Cake. To read the recipe, click here. To see a fifteen minute video of the event, click here.
To see a 2 minute video of the chef baking his cake click here.