What a whirlwind these last few days have been for me as League president and how proud I’ve been of all of us – and of our past, present, and future.
Our past includes being a training ground and a life-long connection for Eleanor Roosevelt who served on the state board in its early years. It was “all Eleanor all the time” last Friday as 50 of us gathered at the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, her home at Hyde Park, to have lunch with our new-ish LWVUS executive, Wylecia Wiggs Harris, hear some inspiring words from her (see elsewhere for more on that), and tour Val-Kill. You came from all over to be there – three of you from Chautauqua! – and there was much joy and excitement.
At 4 pm that day many others of you joined a crowd at the Wallace Center on the FDR site not far from Val-Kill as the “Women in Politics: Past, Present & Future” conference that we helped plan with SUNY New Paltz got underway. Everywhere I looked in the crowd I could spot familiar League faces including many who had not been able to be at the lunch. A rather disturbing report on polling done by SUNY New Paltz on women’s values and a powerful talk by US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand followed. See here: http://www.twcnews.com/nys/hudson-valley/news/2017/04/21/senator-kristen-gillibrand-helps-celebrate-100th-anniversary-of-ny-women-s-suffrage-movement.html for TV coverage on the talk. We will report later on the polling.
During the wine and appetizer period that followed, “our” Wylecia gave a toast in which she expressed delight at being able to visit Val-Kill and learn more about the trailblazer that Eleanor was. “You are all trailblazers in your own right,” she said as she encouraged us to keep fighting to make the hopes of our foremothers a reality and to honor “the past, present, and future” of women.
Allida Black, Research Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University and an expert on Eleanor Roosevelt, was the keynote speaker at dinner, and afterwards when we talked she said she’d help us create a program to train women to run for office, something she does in a week-long summer program at Yale.
The next day Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul greeted us and spoke in a very personal way about the need for women to believe in ourselves and to get out there and make a difference. A wonderful selection of panel discussions followed and after I debrief with the SUNY organizers, I’ll try to share more with you about them.
And then Tuesday I saw a whole new gathering of League members at the Capitol as we got updates on our issues from Barb Bartoletti, Jennifer Wilson and Laura Bierman; watched Jennifer manage a well-attended press conference on election law reform; and then go lobby our legislators. It’s always a little crazy in Albany on Tuesdays but a lively time was had by all.
What a pleasure to see so many of you during these few days. Keep up your enthusiasm and very good work. We’re a pretty lively bunch for being almost 100!
Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
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