2018 League Leaders Lunch Explores Partnerships, Governance

The October 20, 2018 League Leaders Lunch in Harvard brought together 66 leaders from around the state for a day of learning and sharing.  The day’s agenda included an update on what’s been happening at LWVMA and LWVUS, presentations on League advocacy and voter service, a preview of the Ballot Question study, and an interactive exercise to generate ideas related to the League’s 100th anniversary and expanding our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

The day also included two outstanding panel discussions:

The first, moderated by Linda Matys O’Connell of LWV Springfield, focused on building stronger partnerships with like-minded, diverse organizations.  As Linda said:  “In both its voter service and advocacy work, LWV benefits from working in partnership with other like-minded organizations. Partnership amplifies our collective voices, increases our impact, and improves our outcomes…Partnership is especially important in the current political environment…And our partnership must include diverse voices.”  We are grateful for the participation of the following panelists:

The second panel, which was moderated by Marilyn Peterson of LWV Acton Area, focused on different forms of local League governance.  We are grateful for the participation of Carin Kale (LWV Hamilton-Wenham), Jo-Ann Berry (LWV Acton Area), and Courtney Rau Rogers (LWV Norwood).

Many thanks to our co-host, LWV Harvard, who made us feel welcome in a great venue in a central location.





2018 LWVUS Convention Report


Massachusetts sent 33 delegates to the 53rd LWVUS Convention in Chicago during the last steamy days of June.  Over half of our delegates were attending their first convention, a good mix of new and veteran attendees. Total convention attendance was one of the highest ever, with an overflow crowd of more than 900 delegates.  In addition to the usual business, there were two trainings, engaging and thoughtful speakers, a large assortment of workshops, caucuses, and information sessions early each morning and late each night, as well as plenty of opportunities to network with League members from around the country. On Saturday, many delegates braved the heat and used their lunch recess to join the “Families Belong Together March” protesting immigration policies in downtown Chicago, bringing real activism into the Convention proceedings.

Virginia Kase, chief operating officer of CASA, an organization at the forefront of the immigrant rights movement representing nearly 100,000 members, was introduced as the new chief executive officer of LWVUS at the convention.

LWVUS offered two training programs.  Wellstone Action provided a pre-convention training dedicated to “Developing and Mobilizing Skills to Win in 2018.”  A second training program Saturday afternoon focused on “Using Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lens to Strengthen Social Impact and Collaboration,” aimed at boosting League diversity, conducted by Diversity Dimensions.

National experts Nick Stephanopoulos and Ruth Greenwood participated in a conversation on redistricting, an event live-streamed to League members around the country, which was particularly timely given the previous week’s Supreme Court decision in Gill v. Whitford.  Other convention speakers included Ashley Allison, the executive vice president for campaigns and programs for The Leadership Conference, on the current state of voting rights; Rosie Rios, the 43rd Treasurer of the United States, on the upcoming 2020 anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and her work to ensure that women’s images and stories are part of our history; and Carrie Davis, the democracy program director for The Joyce Foundation, on ways to tell our collective story.  Saturday evening’s banquet speaker was Elaine Weiss, author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, who shared stories about the fight to ratify the 19th Amendment.

Two panel discussions were particularly interesting, one on Election Day preparedness, and one on diversity, equity and inclusion. The first panel featured Thomas Hicks, chair, Election Assistance Commission; Sarah Johnson, Carter Center; and Andy Kang, Advancing Justice Chicago.  Key points were the importance of trained election workers, need for election observation, and the need for the League and others to support voter participation and the Census effort.   The second panel included Dr. Alfreda Brown, vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Kent State University; Sarah Bury, interim vice president, LWV Lake Michigan; and Cecile Scoon, first vice president, LWV Florida.  Each shared personal experiences and encouraged League members to listen more and extend welcome to people of different backgrounds for the health of the organization.

The program adopted by convention included the recommended program to continue the “Making Democracy Work Campaign,” but added items including advocacy for the National Popular Vote Compact and support for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

The recommended budget was approved, with some concern registered by Massachusetts delegates about the level of fundraising expense relative to fundraising revenue.  Three of the five recommended By-Laws changes passed.

LWVMA co-sponsored two of the many caucuses:  Promoting Effective Action on Carbon Pricing, and The Critical Role of Healthcare in a Democracy (with LWV Amherst). Many of us attended sessions on the Transformation Journey, and your collective feedback was helpful to us as we asked questions and raised concerns.  LWVUS seemed to take the concerns expressed by many members around the country seriously.

On the last day, convention passed five resolutions related to advocacy on the Equal Rights Amendment, abolishing the Electoral College, carbon pricing, reproductive choices, and alignment of energy policy with current climate science.

The LWV Convention page has materials on convention proceedings of the Convention, and an archive contains presentation materials and will be updated.  You can see photos of the Massachusetts delegates on our Facebook page here.

“Beyond the March” Speakers Share Insights, Inspiration, and Ideas for Action

Women have long played a key role as agents of change here in Massachusetts, and today women especially are feeling energized to “do something” to fix political institutions that are widely perceived as broken.

Our full-day conference on April 28, 2018, Beyond the March:  Women Leading the Way in Massachusetts, brought together elected officials, an historian, political scientist, and 150 citizen activists from across the state to explore lessons from women’s activist past, the key role of women leaders today, and concrete steps we can all take to strengthen our democracy going forward.

Speakers included:  Congresswoman Niki Tsongas; Barbara Berenson, author, Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers; Lisa Wong, Deputy Director, Asian American Civic Association, former Mayor, Fitchburg; Ruthanne Fuller, Mayor, Newton; Yvonne Spicer, Mayor, Framingham; Sarai Rivera, City Councilor, Worcester; and Daniel Ziblatt, Professor of Government, Harvard University, co-author, How Democracies Die.

Great Time at the 2017 League Leaders’ Lunch

This fall’s League Leaders’ Lunch in Worcester offered more than fifty leaders from around the state an opportunity to learn, network, and share.  The day’s agenda included an update on what’s been happening at LWVMA and LWVUS, a presentation on League advocacy (how it works and what you can do), and a panel discussion with League leaders from three of our new units in Franklin County, Central Berkshire County and Greater Lowell.

“Ordinary women and men doing extraordinary things” summed up the comments from three of our new League units at the League Leaders lunch.  The panel included Marge Michalski, Treasurer, Franklin County unit; Kathie Penna, President, Central Berkshire unit; and Sabrina Heisey, leader of the Greater Lowell unit.  Each shared their impetus for forming a League unit and identified the League’s non-partisanship and focus on issues as two of the most important reasons why they chose the League as a vehicle for their engagement.

The new League units shared their perspectives about how they got started, and why forming a League was the channel for their activism.  Their enthusiasm was infectious; their facile use of communications and social media gave all of us some ideas to energize our own League members.

After lunch, everyone had an opportunity to share in small groups one idea that their League has done to engage new and existing members.  LWVMA staff offered a quick overview of the resources that the website and the office have to offer all our members.

Many thanks to our co-host Worcester League, who made us feel welcome in a great venue in a central location.


What’s new at LWVMA and LWVUS – Year of Growth
League Advocacy: How It Works and What You Can Do
Sharing Roundtable Notes
LWVMA Staff: Who We Are, What We Do, and How We Can Help You


Local League Basics
LWVMA Information and Links
Tools for Local Leagues
Field Service Regions
The Citizen Lobbyist Handbook
Legislative Envoy Program
2017 LWVMA Advocacy Agenda
Priority Bills
League Supported and Opposed Legislation
Voter Service Committee Update
LWVMA Funding Chart
What Would Alice Paul Do Flyer
Upcoming Events in 2017

2017 Convention Roundup

Delegates and observers from local Leagues across Massachusetts shared the experience of Convention 2017, “The Future of Democracy: Facing the Challenges,” with thoughtful discussion of the future of the League and how to best serve all of our new members and the greater community, a look into the thinking of the youngest members of the legislature, speakers on the role of newspapers and the state of democracy, and a glimpse into the changes coming to the League from the national level on down.

We are pleased that Mary Ann Ashton of the Acton Area League and Linda O’Connell of the Springfield unit of the Northampton League will be LWVMA co-presidents for 2017-2019.

The convention also conducted the League’s business, electing officers and a new board, approving a two-year state study on the ballot question process, defining our action priorities and action items for the next two years, and approving a new position on charter schools.

To read more on each of these topics, please click on the links below:

New officers and board

New state study

2017-2019 Action Priorities and Action Items

Charter school position

Focus groups on the changing League

Convention speaker reports

Volunteer sheet


LWVUS 52nd Convention: Change and Action

LWVMA sent 32 delegates to Washington, DC, last month for the 52nd LWVUS National Convention. Our delegates joined over 700 other League members for workshops and caucuses, riveting speakers and panelists, and a hands-on election 2016 training, plus a banquet featuring author and journalist Ari Berman, who spoke about his book on the Voting Rights Act. We also elected new national leadership, adopted a budget (no US per-member-payment increases this year or next), and committed to strategically align around our national program – the campaign for Making Democracy Work®.

Key themes of convention were change, focus, engagement, and urgency.  In her speech, LWVUS CEO Dr. Wylecia Wiggs Harris emphasized the need to embark on an organizational change journey that focuses on accelerating the pace of change within the League and adopting a bias toward action, taking advantage of alternative engagement opportunities, focusing our agenda, and wrestling with the tough questions of whether our current structure and approaches reflect a 21st century organization. Over the next few weeks, LWVUS will be posting materials, handouts, transcripts and videos in the Convention 2016 section of the LWV.org website. You can view LWVMA’s submission to Roll Call of the States here.

Six LWVMA members participated in the national Lobby Day, speaking with Senators Warren’s and Markey’s staffs, as well as with Congressmen on the need to restore the Voting Rights Act.

LWVMA Council on April 30 at Clark University

The 2016 LWVMA Council “Massachusetts Voter Engagement (MOVE) 2016: Join the Movement!” was held Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Clark University in Worcester. Council this year focused on voter engagement during the 2016 election cycle and featured:

      • A kick off of LWVMA’s voter engagement campaign, MOVE 2016 (Massachusetts Voter Engagement 2016;
      •  A panel discussion, “The Massachusetts Electorate: Who’s Not Participating and What Will It Take to Reach Them?” with:
        • Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Director, CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), Tufts University, a research center that focuses on young people in the United States, especially those who are marginalized or disadvantaged in political life.
        • Eva Millona, Executive Director, MIRA (Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition),  the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration.
        • Nathaniel Stinnett, Founder and CEO, Environmental Voter Project, a non-partisan non profit using data analytics and behavioral science to identify and mobilize non-voting environmentalists.
      • Two workshops:  From Climate Talk to Climate Action and Charter Schools in Massachusetts

MOVE 2016 Information

MOVE 2016 slides
MOVE 2016 summary
Massachusetts Election Reforms and Call to Action

Workshop Presentations and Handouts (coming soon)

Charter Schools in Massachusetts: presentation by the Charter School Study Committee
From Climate Talk to Climate Action

Local Leagues Donate to LWVMA

LWVMA is grateful to the local Leagues who made donations to the LWVMA at Council 2016: Amherst, Cape Cod Area, Concord-Carlisle, Hamilton-Wenham, Needham, Newton, Northampton Area, Plymouth Area, Shrewsbury, Topsfield-Boxford-Middleton, Wellesley, and Winchester.