President’s Column (Mary Schilling, LWV-WA President)

Having spent most of my life as a student or an administrator in higher education, I still think of my personal calendar in terms of fall and spring semesters. So at the moment, I’m feeling a bit like Janus, simultaneously looking back at fall semester and toward the spring semester.

During the fall, we were clearly focused on the November election with efforts toward voter registration, voter education and getting out the vote, culminating with working at the polls on Election Day. Most notable was the election outcome, making national news, which succeeded in bringing not only significant diversity but also near party parity in the House of Delegates in the Commonwealth. In collaboration with the Virginia Civic Engagement Table we hosted a training session in November on Activism for Busy People for our members and representatives of other community organizations who are committed to responsible activism and strategic advocacy. Sharing stories with legislators about how specific policies affect the lives of real people proves to be a highly effective advocacy strategy. Featuring the work of a William & Mary class of both law school and undergraduate students, an impressive program on Legislative Re-districting and Geographic Information Systems provided a great example of the application of technical research to the real-life political issue of re-districting. At the LWV-VA Legislative Pre-Session in Richmond, our robust Williamsburg contingent of 13 heard a number of non-profit agencies discuss their issues priorities related to proposed bills in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

Turning toward the spring semester, we are thrilled to offer our signature Great Decisions program, featuring eight Tuesday morning lectures on topical areas selected by the Foreign Affairs Association. Our thanks to Doug Wood and Doris Margulies for planning and promoting this popular series. The Women’s Legislative Roundtable on Wednesday mornings during General Assembly offers members an outstanding opportunity to exercise advocacy on issues based on League positions. I hope you consider joining us for one or more Wednesday programs. Watch for details on an important program in collaboration with W&M’s School of Education, the Village and the WJCC PTA Council. The program features a documentary film, “Backpack Full of Cash,” exploring the impact of privatization and the need to support funding for public education.

In one final look back, Don and I were delighted to host the League’s Holiday Party. Such a great turnout and a wonderful blend of long-time and new members! Thanks to Mary Anne Miller, Kathy Suslik, and all who brought food and wine to share. Study Updates From the LWVVA Program Director Anne Bradstreet Smith, VP. Williamsburg, LWV-VA Program Director All three League studies are progressing beautifully. The School Choice led by Carol Noggle (Prince William) and the Behavioral Health study led by Linda Rice (Williamsburg) have broad representation and great depth of expertise. Both teams have great enthusiasm for the subject and have developed substantive materials.

Mary Schilling President, LWV-WA