Mary Lou Jaramillo moved to Johnson County in 2015 As the former executive director of El Centro in Kansas City, Kansas
and the Mattie Rhodes Center in Kansas City, Mo., she felt it was her responsibility as a citizen to be an advocate in the community. As a result of her professional relationships with public officials and persons involved in politics, she came to see the League as a good way to remain engaged in and continue to contribute to the community. Mary Lou currently serves as co-chair of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative..
Ann Sanders learned about LWV through her friendships with Dolores Furtado and Janis McMillen. Inspired by them, she joined because she felt the organization demonstrated a commitment to addressing inequities in our society as well as working hard to register and inform voters—issues that are important to her. She notes that LWV is full of smart, dedicated women, and she enjoys being a part of such a groupI .
Ann is pleased to be co-chair (with Mary Lou Jaramillo) of the LWVJoCo’s new DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) initiative. She notes that in many ways the League has always been about DEI by taking positions on fair housing, voting rights, Medicaid expansion, taxes and equity in many areas. She thinks the League should be about enabling individuals to have a fair start in pursuing the American Dream, and she wants to advance that work through the DEI initiative.
Ann feels the League excels in three areas:
- Informing voters about current political and social issues through the monthly programs and other activities
- Providing people with the opportunity to register to vote through its extensive voter registration work
- Addressing current issues in a comprehensive, unbiased way that covers both sides of each issue.
“March Forth” by Kathy Hockley
It was March 4th, the one date when said aloud is a two-word call to action. On that beautiful, sunny day, many of us decided to remove the February gray from our cars at the car wash. The car ahead of me had a license plate holder that caught my eye – League of Women Voters.
I had been interested in this organization for some time, but never ventured beyond curiosity. When I found the driver in the waiting room, I told her that I had noticed her license plate holder and was interested in the League.
It was the beginning of a wonderful conversation with Myrna Stringer. She graciously answered my questions. She mentioned that she was 91 and had been a member for many years. Myrna told me that the League was having its monthly meeting a few days later. I decided on the spot to attend. As we parted, I watched her walk to her clean car and knew something very special had just happened.
I attended the meeting, joined the League, and have been a member for a year and a half. I will always be grateful for my “Myrna moment.” In this electronic age of screen gazing, I wonder how many moments such as this are missed. Certainly websites and electronic communications are useful, but it is hard to beat serendipitous human contact.
So, thank you, Myrna for being at the right place at the right time. I think of you often as I “march forth” into League experiences. You are, and will always be, an inspiration to me.
Besides substantially lowering the average age of the board, LWVJoCo’s new board member and secretary provides the organization with a fresh perspective and an array of valuable skills. Danielle grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. She graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2013 with a degree in industrial engineering. She moved to Overland Park in 2013.
After the 2016 elections, Danielle wanted to be more involved in local and national issues. Her search for a vehicle to address issues through a nonpartisan approach led her to LWVJoCo on Facebook. She became a member in September 2018.
Danielle thinks that the League’s commitment to nonpartisanship is one key to its successful programs. She said the Saturday programs are fantastic. Danielle likes the organization’s new focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. She thinks the League’s work in legislative advocacy could be expanded to include even more action on environmental, health care and voting issues.
Since joining in 2017, Amber Sellers wasted no time getting involved in much of the League’s work. Amber has served as a greeter at LWVJoCo meetings and events. She has also been involved with the Speakers Bureau and the Events Committee.
As Amber learned about the League’s historical and continuous commitment to civil rights, community service and civic engagement, she knew she had made the right decision. According to Amber, the League “talks the talk and walks the talk.”
“Leadership development and succession planning are important for the League’s future growth and success,” Amber said. “e need to continue working to diversify membership and work to “keep it relevant.” Cooperation and collaboration with a broad array of organizations and individuals are critical to our future success.”
Lynn decided to join the League in 2014. “I saw the State of Kansas going in a direction that I was not happy with,” she says. Having never been involved in political issues in the past, she saw the League as a way “to become more educated and have a positive effect on the political scene.”
She thinks the League is a wonderful organization that gives citizens the opportunity to do something concrete regarding issues of concern. She is so convinced of the League’s value that she regularly tries to recruit friends to join.
Karin joined the League in 2016 because she believed in the League’s cause. She was impressed by the people she met and the Saturday programs and wanted to help advance the work of “promoting political responsibility through informed and active participation by citizens with their government.”
While living in Wyandotte County and working with several social service agencies, Beth became aware of the widespread poverty in KCK. She wanted to help these citizens have a stronger voice in public policy. Living near Wyandotte High School, she also wanted to make sure students there were given an opportunity to register to vote. She thought the League—with its nonpartisan stance and good reputation—could help solve voting problems for many individuals.
Beth thinks LWVJoCo could focus on enacting same-day voter registration in Kansas. Also, Hispanic and other immigrant and underrepresented citizens get hit-or-miss information about registration and voting. The result is that they are less likely to participate in elections.
During this last election season, Beth became a roving voting advocate in her neighborhood. First, she registered voters at a card table outside of the El Rio Bravo Supermarket in KCK for three days. Then, she provided information and rides to the polls for several neighbors. Read more…
Lee joined the Emporia League in 1962 mostly because she was new in town and wanted to get to know people. After living in the D.C. area, she
also wasinterested in the workings of government in a small town.
In 1975, she ran for state representative. Two years later, she became the first woman elected to serve on the Emporia City Council. She went on to serve two terms as mayor of Emporia in 1980 and 1985, and again she was the first woman to be elected to that position. Read more…
Although Marty’s wife joined the League in 2000, he didn’t get involved until after he attended a League Legislative Coffee in 2014. He was impressed by the presentation and saw the importance of the citizen education and civic participation, which the League offered.
Marty says that the fact that American politics has become rigidly partisan in recent years makes the League’s work more important than ever. We can address divisive issues, such as gerrymandering, with a nonpartisan, centrist focus, which contributes to solutions for our nation’s problems. Read more…
Marcia joined League twice, once in 1964 in Chicago for two years and again a few years ago because someone asked her to. This time, Ann Norbury gets the credit. She credits some of her interest in politics to the time she was born, at the beginning of WWII, and from seeing the Korean War played out on television.
She’s worked for three organizations that have political action as a major component of their mission: American Hospital Association, Community Development Institute, a national Head Start consulting organization, and Oral Health Kansas, an advocacy nonprofit in Topeka. Read more…
Erica joined the League because “the organization made me feel like it was a place where I could make a difference.” Although she explored other organizations, the League’s focus on giving citizens a voice in government through voter registration and education was consistent with her interests and beliefs. The enthusiastic response to the League and interest in voter registration at the Lenexa Art Fair and Old Shawnee Days have illustrated to her the importance of the League’s work. Read more…
Volunteering has always been a part of Ann’s life. Her interest in civics, politics and political
conventions began at an early age as well. Like her mother before her, Ann serves as a poll worker on election days and has done so for 25 years.
Ann became a member in 2003 after Diane Kuhn invited her to attend a meeting. Since then, she has served the League in numerous ways. She was the editor of the VOTER newsletter from 2007 to 2014 and co-president twice. Ann works almost daily managing the website. Ann and another member put together the last three annual report booklets. Ann also creates the weekly e-blasts that reach more than 500 League members and supporters. Read more…
For Christine Caseres, women in politics is a proud family tradition. Given that her great-grandmother was a 1918 suffragette activist and her grandmother and mother served as presidents of NOW chapters, her leadership in the LWVJoCo seems inevitable.
Christine Caseres, a League member for five years, chairs the our natural resources committee.
Christine appreciates LWV for enabling women and men to get to know and work with others who focus on issues and are able to work together in an intelligent way. She is inspired by the women and men she meets and appreciates the League’s focus on activism and community education. Read more…
The League of Women Voters offered Jodie Dietz “a great way to keep apprised of what’s going on in the community.” She joined the LWV of Johnson County with the idea of being “a fly on the wall.” However Janis McMillen soon convinced her to chair the Voter Services committee which she served for several years. She notes, “It was great meeting people, including the candidates for office, and was especially fun during 2008 election.”
Jodie served as chair of the Observer Corps, which she says is “one of the most valuable areas of interest for the League. It is a way of connecting all members with the whole community. The Observer Corps provides two important services: (1) glean information about what is going on in the community and (2) the visibility of our LWV member present lets the board members know that the League is watching them. There is opportunity for those who want to participate in the Observer Corps as we have a few openings available.”
Eileen Manza believes it’s important to be involved wherever you may be, so she dressed as a suffragette and participated in the Downtown Overland Park parade. She volunteers on the Voter Services Committee and recognizes the significance of continuing to register voters as part of our democracy.
“I like what’s happening at the League,” said Eileen. “I like the spirit, the informative programs, the camaraderie, the cooperation. I am learning so much. The League is performing a real service to citizens to promote further understanding of issues important to our community and state, and the actual activity of voting.”
Sandra Sanchez believes, “The League does a lot of good work giving people the opportunity to register to vote. I’d like to expand our efforts. I’d like to see us get more proactive, if possible, to be able to go into the schools and talk to the young people about the importance of voting — a constitutional right. Get those eligible or those turning 18 registered to vote ahead of time.”
“Our monthly programs are a good way to educate people, but let’s do a better job of branding ourselves and reaching a broader audience. Our ‘give a ways,’ such as the bookmarks, help the public know where to go to learn more about the current issues and voter registration. I want people to see our logo and identify our name, but also see us in action at as many community events as possible. Let’s get involved. Tell people to participate in election campaigns and vote!”
“I have always voted and been interested in learning about issues but only learned about the League of Women Voters’ activities when I moved to Johnson County,” said Christine Hutchins.
Christine is currently chair of LWVJoCo’s Naturalization Committee. “This has become a real passion for me ̶ especially now with the high issue of immigration,” said Christine. “I like the League’s involvement in educating people about policies and issues, helping register voters and getting voters to the polls. I see our League on the right track and becoming more visible in the community.”