President’s Annual Report 2019

Thanks for Another Successful Year   

Ruth Ehresman, June 3, 2019

Women’s Voices is 15 years old. I always associate turning 15 with the quinceanera celebrations that I have shared with Latinx friends. While these are sometime opulent affairs, my experience has been one of young women celebrating their gifts, their responsibility as women, and their power. Like these young women, rather than just putting on a party dress, Women’s Voices is rolling up its sleeves to work even harder to achieve greater social justice and equity through advocacy and education. Our goal in this coming year is to ramp up our capacity to advocate, disrupt injustice, and create greater equity. We are in the process of strategic planning to guide these efforts, and will keep you informed as we move forward. 

Women’s Voices represents the collective voices of 530 members and 1,274 additional people who receive our education and advocacy e-mails. In addition, 2,400 people follow us on Facebook, 820 on Twitter, and 205 on Instagram. Many thanks to Mary Clemons, whose prolific Facebook posts and Tweets have been a tremendous asset to our social media presence. Our marketing director, Judy Arnold, manages our communications with strong writing skills. 

Our monthly education programs comprise a critical pillar of our work. They are free and open to the public, and they attracted large audiences this year—an average of 120 people. Local experts addressed current issues such as public housing segregation, inequities in the criminal justice system, and climate change. We are grateful to the Program Committee, chaired by Sue Flanagan, and the Membership Committee, chaired by Joan McKerrow, for their hard work to make these programs possible. 

The Racial Justice Committee, under the leadership of Jeanne Bubb, continued Women’s Voices’ work to understand institutional racism and white privilege and to speak out against injustice and inequity. The committee provided five Lunch and Learn Programs, co-hosted a viewing of  the documentary For Ahkeem, and sponsored a diversity book club. An outstanding event is planned for June 13: “Visionary Voices: A Candid Conversation with Brittany Packnett.” Many thanks to Jeanne, to the new co-chairs Barbara Finch and Nancy Litz, and to book club facilitator Becky Clausen for their leadership.

Since 2013, gun violence prevention has been a major focus for us. Through our Lock It for Love (LIFL) gun safety outreach project, we provide education on gun violence as a public health issue and free gun locks to St. Louis area families. Women’s Voices gave out 1,386 gun locks at 56 events, and supported formation of LIFL programs in southern Missouri and Kansas City. Southeast Missouri volunteers gave out 781 gun locks at 55 events. We continue to advocate against state and federal gun legislation that would endanger more people. Women’s Voices works closely with Moms Demand Action in our education and legislative efforts, and we have relationships with a variety of other partners, including the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission. We are indebted to Barbara Harris and Mary Schuman, the 2018 LIFL chairs; to incoming chairs Andrea Bauman and Harriet Kopolow; to Joanie Park for coordinating LIFL volunteers; and to the many committee members and volunteers who make LIFL successful. 

This past year the Advocacy Committee updated older position papers and wrote new ones, all available on our website. These carefully researched documents direct Women’s Voices’ advocacy efforts, provide information our members can use in discussing a wide variety of issues, and indicate ways to take action. Our gratitude to Karen Francis, who leads this critical committee. 

Our financial strength enables us to continue and improve our education and advocacy activities. Adequate resources allow us to maintain a small office and staff. Our part-time administrative manager, Laura Rose, provides essential assistance. Without her amazing, efficient support, Women’s Voices’ ambitious efforts simply could not happen. In 2018 our annual campaign raised more than $30,000, boosted by a kick-off event with Jason Kander that spurred our get-out-the-vote and voter protection efforts. The 2019 annual campaign goal is $30,000. This year’s kick-off donor event on June 13 will feature Harvard fellow and upcoming leader Brittany Packnett. Outgoing fund-raising chair Barbara Richter led our 2018 efforts. Laura Rossmann takes the reins in 2019. Becky Clausen continues her work as our capable treasurer. Many thanks to her! 

Much gratitude to Carolyn Crowe and Trish Gunby, who served as board members in 2018, and to the appointed board members who will continue in 2019: Gwen Wesley and Mary Shuman. We warmly welcome newly appointed board members Lise Bernstein, Susan Glassman, and Laura Rossmann.

It has been an honor to serve as co-president of Women’s Voices this past year, and especially to share the position with Mary Clemons. Mary is so wise, so committed, and so faithful to being a strong advocate. She has a rich history of providing leadership in multiple roles for Women’s Voices, and will continue to lead our social media efforts. I am excited to be sharing the president role with Linda Zazove in 2019. Linda brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm. We hope to be a dynamic duo! 

Linda and I invite you to join Women’s Voices as we face the daunting challenges ahead. Please become a member. Please support our annual campaign. Please commit to act and speak out to create greater social justice and equity. Please inform yourself and vote.