As an AAUW major donor, I'm confident that my contributions are used wisely and effectively to advance equity for women and girls. I highly recommend giving your time, talent, and treasure to this powerful organization!
In 1980, at age 38 and a mother of 2 daughters, I entered law school. In the spring of 1981, one week before finals, I was awarded the prestigious AAUW Project Renew Grant (now the Career Development Grant). Receiving that grant increased my confidence immensely and convinced me I belonged in law school and that I could compete with anyone. I was on the Law Review, graduated with honors, and had a very succesful career as a city attorney for Evanston, IL, home of Northwestern University. As a payback to AAUW, I served on the R&P Grants Panel for six years, two as the chair. Later I was elected to and served on the AAUW Educational Foundation Board. Receiving that grant and becoming a part of AAUW's philanthropic efforts are defining moments in my life. As a Board and Panel member, I heard from many grant and fellowship recipients who felt the same. AAUW is an organization that has positively impacted countless women. I am just one of those.
Before my AAUW training, I had never spoken in front of a group. AAUW taught me to do that and more! I helped write the VoLT training manuals, then trained groups all over the country, including community non-profit groups. AAUW's leadership training is the best around! It can be helpful in any job - paid or volunteer - and in running for political office. At the same time, AAUW speaks for all women and girls, monitoring legislation that effects us. I live across the country from Washington, DC, and rely on AAUW to speak for me on important issues.
AAUW changed my life in more ways than one. I first got involved when a women's studies professor asked me if I wanted to attend a dinner for a women's advocacy organization, and being a poor college student at the time, I jumped at the chance for a free meal. Little did I know that it was the beginning of a beautiful and long relationship with one of the best and most progressive women's organizations in the United States. I was so impressed at the warm welcome I received during that first meeting that I started coming back for more. I joined as a student affiliate, and I considered the other AAUW members as my wise mentors, women who had been there and done that. Not long after, the Huntsville branch took me under their wing and apparently saw potential in me because they sent me to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). This was my first time to be surrounded by strong women MY OWN AGE, and it was a very empowering experience. I was then chosen to be on the National Student Advisory Council (SAC), a time which was instrumental in developing me as a future leader. After participating in NCCWSL a second time through my role on the SAC, I returned to my home state of Alabama, and partnered with an AAUW visionary, Audrey L. Salgado, to develop the first-ever state SAC of its kind. We recruited SAC members from across the state and began developing these young women in the ideals of advocacy, education, and equity. It was amazing. As I grew in my education and professional career, my volunteerism with AAUW also blossomed, and I served two years as AAUW of Alabama Communications Director. This was also an empowering opportunity because I was 23 at the time and was doing some amazing work, thanks to the trust and faith of other AAUW members. I gained so much valuable experience that I probably would not have pursued otherwise. I also was surrounded by smart, driven, pioneering mentors, and this made all the difference. I now live in rural Alaska and manage statewide programs for a government agency that is often considered male-driven. What got me the job: my experience with AAUW, and my understanding and firm belief that women CAN do anything.
Taking part in leadership training provided by AAUW and AAUW of Oregon, over the past 20 years, has given me the confidence to reach out to realize the following. Present proposals, which were approved, for state-wide and community-wide partnerships (Oregon Woman Suffrage Celebration, Support for NEW Leadership Oregon, Gresham Historical Society, Columbia Symphony Orchestra); Recruit elected officials as members (one state senator and one school board member--so far); Gain facilitator training to implement the WAGE Project's Salary Negotiation Workshops; and Meet women leaders all over the state to support them in their respective leadership journeys. This last action is as a result of being appointed as an AAUW Leadership Corps Grassroots Liaison. Prior to AAUW experience, I would have never had the confidence to apply for this position. The position has opened up even more training, but more importantly, it allows me to support and identify support for other women, and to support and find resources for local branches in the vital work they do in their communities--on behalf of girls and women.
Just over 30 years ago, I was fortunate enough to receive from AAUW an American Fellowship for my doctoral dissertation. This grant allowed me to focus on my research without having to have a fulltime job and, thus, shortened the time it took to complete my degree by one year. AAUW grants have impact. As the only woman in my graduate school class in marine sciences, I was impressed by the positive responses of professors and others when they learned of my having the AAUW grant. AAUW elevated my stature professionally. I am not the only one to have this happen. According to the history of Colby College, the first woman, a mathematician, invited to join the Colby College faculty (over 80 years ago) was asked to do so because AAUW had invited her to start a chapter at the College. AAUW has a long history of impacting the lives of women. That chapter, the Waterville (Maine) Area Branch, is still in existence today and thriving. My fellowship led to many leadership opportunities. I learned to give back and to work for improvements in the lives of women and girls. Even in retirement, my work as an AAUW volunteer continues. Now I have the opportunity to lobby for legislation that will impact women and girls, that will affect education, and that will lead to a fairer, safer world. AAUW is a leader in these matters and improves lives.
As a Town Councilwoman, member of AAUW, Scottsdale Branch since 2000 and former Public Policy Chair, I was invited to present to High School and Community College women in the "Running and Winning" Program. We began in 2006, every year with a different group of elected officials from School Board to Legislators and Mayors, and know we touched these students' lives, allowing them to consider public service as a reality for their future. (Typical questions involved balancing family and elected life, fundraising, public speaking fears, press and motivation and interest in politics)
The first time I held a meeting it was for AAUW. My career is non-corporate and what learned is by doing. Mentoring: A big part of what I have learned about and participated in due to AAUW. Sisterhood: Meeting amazing women. I close my eyes, they are all ageless and well-rounded and more that what my eyes could tell me they are. A place where, when my children grew up, I found new directions to give back to my community in new ways and if I found one other person who wanted to do it, we could make it happen through AAUW for women and girls. Leadership: I did not know I could be a leader yet each AAUW event, learning more about how to do it happens in a welcoming way. Coalition building: We do not have to invent it to serve our mission and we do that regularly in our communities including getting out the vote and educating our own community.
AAUW resources have touched many areas of my life. As a woman in technology, their research reports like "Tech Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age" and "Why so Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Science" have described current reality with proposals for how to make life better for women and girls in the future. What cemented my relationship with AAUW, though, was their Legal Advocacy Fund, and its work to fight sex discrimination in the workplace (until recently in academia). The LAF resources extend into the community with workshops on campuses and in the community so that future lawsuits just do not happen. I was pleased to be part of one at NC Central University that explained Title IX to law students and others on campus.
When I was the AAUW-IL President, I testified from the podium of the Illinois House of the Representatives regarding the rate and prevention of teen pregnancy in Illinois. Had it not been for AAUW, I would not have had the opportunity to do this. AAUW is the leading advocate for women and girls advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.
AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. That is the mission of AAUW. My branch happens to encourage girls in science and other STEM fields. The advocacy piece is accomplished by working on legislation such as Title IX. The branch is presently giving toward an endowment to fund a fellowship for women to complete their Phd's. We have almost completed the Tacoma Centennial fund of AAUW #4275.