Archives for September 2015

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG Students, and MassVOTE to Co-Sponsor Major Voter Registration Event on Sept. 22

WHAT: The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG Students, and MassVOTE will come together on National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) for a major nonpartisan voter registration event. Volunteers will be out in force to register voters, provide information about Massachusetts’ brand new online voter registration system and the voting process, and distribute vote-themed giveaways. Boston’s newly appointed Election Commissioner, Dion Irish, will be on hand to meet registrants. This event was a winning submission in Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s ReEvent the Plaza Contest– an initiative to source ideas for new and creative events to be run in Boston

National Voter Registration Day, founded by voting rights and community organizations in 2012, has been a highly effective nonpartisan campaign to register tens of thousands of eligible voters on one single day through on-the-ground neighborhood events as well as online. Embraced by President Obama earlier this year on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, as well as a host of celebrities, bipartisan elected officials and organizations, NVRD is building steam in 2015 with hundreds of events already planned as the primaries and caucuses for the 2016 elections quickly approach.

WHERE: Samuel Adams Park, Boston (on Congress Street, next to Faneuil Hall)

WHEN: September 22, 2015 from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

WHO: League of Women Voters of Massachusetts

            MASSPIRG Students

            MassVOTE

            Boston Election Commissioner Dion Irish

WHY: This year’s National Voter Registration Day event in Boston’s Samuel Adams Park is intended to maximize voter turnout in the 2015 Boston municipal election (November 3, 2015) and to emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy democracy by exercising the right to vote in every election.

The first step to getting people turned out to the polls on Election Day is making sure they are registered to vote. We know that when people register to vote and are asked by their peers or community members to turn out to the polls, they are far more likely to participate. Face-to-face interactions for voter registration and Get Out the Vote efforts are particularly important in non-presidential elections when eligible voters are less likely to turnout. National Voter Registration Day is the perfect time to register for the first time, update your voter registration if you have moved, or ask your friends and family to make sure they are registered.

CONTACT: Meryl Kessler, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, mkessler@lwvma.org or 617-523-2999.

LWVMA Urges Action on Bills

Several bills—on pay equity, public records access, the MBTA’s future, restorative justice, dropout prevention, motor vehicle license suspension and pregnant workers’ rights—have been reported out of joint committees and are now before the House or Senate Ways & Means committees.  LWVMA has sent letters asking those committees to move quickly on these important bills. The sex education bills we support have been sent to the health care financing committee.

Other bills we support are still in joint committees, and many will be having hearings during the fall months.   You can check the status of these bills and League testimony on them on our legislation page.

Massachusetts Leagues Participate in Two LWVUS Studies

Leagues in Massachusetts are working together to participate in two LWVUS studies. This process began at National League convention where the body adopted a study on the Constitutional Amendment Process and an Update to our Campaign Finance positions, under the umbrella topic “Structures of Democracy”.

Why do Leagues do studies?  It is a process unique to LWV.  We consider all sides of an issue, then reach member consensus leading to the development of a position(s) on issues.  This thoughtfulness sets us apart and helps us retain our respected reputation.

Local Leagues across the country are forming committees to review the study materials and put together programs and consensus meetings.

What is consensus?  Participating members discuss both pros and cons of an issue and arrive at a mutual agreement within the consensus group, often termed a “sense of the members” or member understanding. It is not a vote!

After the consensus meeting, the team working on each meeting will make a written recommendation summarizing the result of the consensus meeting to the local League Board/Steering Committee.  The Board/Steering Committee will review the outcome, vote approval, and submit the report to the National League study team (LWVUS).

How is a new or updated position reached?  All the responses from local Leagues across the nation are reviewed by the National League study team. The National League study team develops a proposed position for the National LWV Board to review and adopt.  Once adopted, it becomes the position of the League of Women Voters and becomes the basis for action.

About the two studies

  1. Constitutional Amendment Process
    The League has no position on the Constitutional Amendment process, as delineated in Article V of the US Constitution. This study will seek to develop guidelines for evaluating constitutional amendment proposals, various aspects of an Article V constitutional convention, and how the League should balance process and positions in evaluating amendment proposals.
  2. Money in Politics/ Campaign Finance
    Recent Supreme Court decisions have raised questions about campaign finance that are not addressed by the current National League (LWVUS) position on Campaign Finance, which states: The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably, allow maximum citizen participation in the political process (1974, 1982).This study will examine the current state of campaign finance and determine if and how the League position should be modified.

Want to join the conversation? Membership in the League of Women Voters is open to all men and women of any age. Click here to join!

For more information on the studies click here.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact the Steering Committee at lwvus.studies@lwvma.org.

Wylecia Wiggs Harris to Lead League of Women Voters as Executive Director

WyleciaWiggsHarris_headshot_009/01/2015 
Dr. Harris Brings Extensive Executive Experience from American Nurses Association, American Heart Association

Washington, D.C.  – The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) announced today that Wylecia Wiggs Harris has been named as its new executive director. Dr. Harris brings to the League many years of seasoned leadership experience, a passion for organizational development and a commitment to excellence. As executive director, Dr. Harris will be building on strategies and relationships that advance some of the most foundational political principles of our nation.

Dr. Harris comes to the League after 11 years at the American Nurses Association Enterprise serving as chief operating officer for the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), and previously as chief of staff/special projects officer for the ANA. Among her most significant achievements at the ANA were the transformation of the association’s Race for Relevance, the launch of the Leadership Institute and the reorganization of the American Nurses Foundation. With more than 25 years of diverse association experience, Dr. Harris brings strong relationship management skills and a proven track record in successfully building and establishing organizations by providing leadership and vision for staff, volunteers and members.

“I am thrilled that Wylecia will be bringing her talents and leadership acumen to the League of Women Voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Her considerable skills in guiding organizations and setting a strategic vision and roadmap for the future will be incredible assets to the League. Wylecia comes to the League at this exciting and important time as we celebrate 95 years and look toward our 2020 centennial. I am confident that with Wylecia at the helm, we will reach new heights.”

“This position with the League of Women Voters means a great deal to me. It provides me with an opportunity to devote my leadership experiences to an organization whose mission closely aligns with my personal convictions. The League’s efforts to engage all voters has always been professionally inspiring to my work,” said Dr. Harris.

Dr. Harris’s many executive achievements include serving as the executive director for both the Center for American Nurses and Sister to Sister – Everyone Has a Heart Foundation, a national organization supporting women’s health issues and heart disease education. She also served for 17 years with the American Heart Association in positions at the local, regional and national levels. In these roles, Dr. Harris used technology, communication and innovative approaches as the backbone for building or rebuilding successful educational and outreach programs.

Dr. Harris is an active member of many professional organizations and boards, including the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the advisory committee of Capella University’s School of Public Health. Dr. Harris has authored columns for national publications, including American Nurse Today, ASAE Journal and The Nonprofit Quarterly.

Dr. Harris holds a PhD in organizational development from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota; a master of management degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; and a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

###

Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.