TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY by Marianne Kast When we hosted a regional meeting with Helen Hutchison, LWV CA President, recently, she outlined some of the barriers to the League’s process of moving successfully into its second century of existence. First, the League faces competition in its core work of civic engagement. Many organizations now compete for attention in the work in which the League specializes. Next, it is viewed as elitist, because of its traditional appeal to white, non-working women. The League is proud of its past successes, but has been reticent to try new approaches and form different partnerships to achieve its goals. On the local level, administrative demands have taken time away from core League work. The League will remain a membership organization, and it will remain non-partisan. The work of educating voters and advocacy for issues will continue. Nationally, the work of streamlining the League’s administration has begun with the emphasis on “joining at all levels.” Currently, members join locally and money flows from local leagues to LWVC and LWVUS through per-member payments. Ideally, members would join LWVUS and based on where they live, money would flow from national to that local League, moving the management of membership to the national level. At the state level, a Diversity and Equity Task Force has been created, partnering with organizations that could use the League’s expertise in advocacy and from whom the League could gain perspective on issues not traditionally part of our work. Helen encouraged us to create events and partnerships we haven’t tried before, that might fail, but from which we can learn and move on to successes.
A MESSAGE FROM HELEN HUTCHISON, LWV CA PRESIDENT We have come through one of the most toxic election cycles in memory. No matter how disheartened we feel, we need to challenge ourselves to make the difficult shift of renewed commitment to each other for the valuable work we do as members of the League of Women Voters. Many in our nation are losing faith in the foundations of our democracy. For us as members of the League, we know it is our mission to make a difference in our communities by protecting our democracy and empowering our voters. We are needed more than ever to guide and educate and to help rebuild trust in our institutions, just as we’ve been doing for nearly 100 years. Restoring respect and reason to our public dialogue and collaboration will take all of us – each of us. Toxic, hateful words have consequences. We can all do better; we need to hold each other accountable when we fall short. Taking small, powerful steps will change the tone in our own communities, and in time, the nation. It all begins with one small step.