We thought about what we’ve been up to the past year and wanted to share it with you. The League pursues non-partisan political work that educates voters and supports our community.
- The League’s Voter Registration team attended a June 14, 2018, Flag Day Naturalization Ceremony, registering new citizens as voters.
- The President wrote a formal letter to Virginia Elections Commissioner Chris Piper in June 2018, regarding League’s concern about mapping errors resulting in numerous voters being incorrectly assigned to the wrong polling places in the 2017 election.
- Our Voter Education team distributed over 500 copies of Facts for Voters, a flyer listing names and contact information for all elected officials in James City County, Williamsburg, and York County as well as top officials in the Commonwealth. Also included is information on voter registration.
- Active Voter Registration volunteers visited high schools, community colleges, and senior residences in the early fall in preparation for November 2018 election, repeating these efforts again in the spring to register additional students.
- 270 subscribers, both League and community members, participated in our Great Decisions, our signature foreign affairs lecture series, with topics on: Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics; Nuclear Negotiations; US-Mexico Partnership; Regional Disorder in the Middle East; Rise of Populism in Europe; US-China Trade; State of US Diplomacy; Refugees and Global Migration. The 8 lectures were presented on Tuesday mornings in February and March 2019.
- Gun Violence Prevention event on May 13, 2019, attended by 58 members and friends, featured an update on the status of various legislative initiatives to curb gun violence and increase gun safety.
- League presented public panel on January 24, 2019, discussing “Medicaid: Bridging the Cost of Health Care,” that included 4 healthcare professionals, economists, and community agency heads.
- A dozen League members attended an April 26 Legislative Wrap-up Session hosted by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and featuring comments by Senator Monty Mason and Delegate Brenda Pogge.
- On October 3, The Virginia Gazette, published the League President’s substantive commentary articulating the League’s mission and commitment to Voter Education. The article called for civic and political involvement and urged informed voting in the midterm elections. The timing of this article was prompted by the fact that the League was unable to host traditional pre-election Candidate Forums lacking the required participation of all candidates for each position.
- Launched Advocacy and Action groups on Election Integrity, Gun Safety Legislative Reform, and Civics Education in fall 2018.
- President Schilling spoke in support of the Equal Rights Amendment at a January 9, 2019, meeting of the James City County Board of Supervisors.
- At the May 2019 LWV-VA Convention, our League was awarded Third Place in the Advocacy Competition, measuring the number of individual advocacy initiatives based on membership size. This is the second year we have placed third out of 13 Leagues across the Commonwealth.
- League members joined students and community members for the March 23 March to End Gun Violence, hearing remarks by students, elected officials, and other community organizers for sensible gun reform.
- Seven members (6 Board) attended the LWV-VA Council Meeting on June 16, 2018, in Henrico, with information shared on state positions and other priorities.
- League President, Vice President, and Immediate Past President attended the July 2018 Biennial LWVUS Convention in Chicago, among 1,000 members from across the country.
- W&M President Katherine Rowe spoke to 150 members and guests at our Fall Reception at Legacy Hall on October 10, 2018.
- Twenty-three members attended the LWV-VA Fall Workshop Day at Colonial Williamsburg Conference Center on September 8, 2018, were who participated in training on advocacy strategies.
- Fifteen members participated in the W&M Homecoming Parade on October 19, 2018, riding in a red convertible and marching, carrying banners celebrating W&M’s 100 years of admission of women and encouraging parade viewers to vote in November 6 Midterm Election in an effort to Empower Voters, Defend Democracy.
- On November 10, 2018, 12 members attended opening day at Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia at the Jamestown Settlement museum.
- Four members attended the November 19, 2018,all-day symposium on the Equal Rights Amendment, featuring law school faculty, elected officials and others.
- Sixteen members attended the LWV-VA December 5, 2018, Pre-session Roundtable in Richmond to hear speakers, lobbyists and representatives of non-profits who highlighted upcoming proposed bills in 2019 General Assembly.
- Seventy-five members attended the annual Holiday Reception at Schilling home on December 6, 2018.
- On January 19, 2019, members participated in an ERA Women’s March on DOG Street, featuring elected officials and non-profit speakers, with League members marching and carrying LWV-WA and ERA banners.
- From January 31, 2013 to January 31, 2019, our League doubled in membership, from 100 to 200. Current membership is at 232 — and still growing.
- Our League was the most consistent League with the largest number of members participating in the Women’s Legislative Roundtable. The six Wednesday morning sessions during General Assembly featured Delegates and non-profit lobbyists discussing bills being forwarded through committees and to the floors of the House and the Senate. League members sitting in the Senate gallery were recognized at League Day, February 6, 2019.
- Our April 4, 2019 New Member Orientation Reception at Schilling’s home drew 17 of our newest members to learn more about the League from Board members and to get acquainted with one another.
- Eleven Voting Delegates and 3 Observers participated in the May 17-19, 2019, LWV-VA Convention in Norfolk with outstanding speakers and breakout sessions, bringing together Leaguers from across the Commonwealth.
We had a wonderful new members’ reception and enjoyed getting to know each other better. We hope each member can find an aspect of the League that helps them become more involved in local policy issues!
by Phoebe Kent, The Voter Co-Editor
Come join us from 4:30-6:30 pm at Legacy Hall in New Town for a lively, interesting Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 7. In addition to the opportunity to converse with fellow members, the meeting features Kelly Thomasson, Governor Northam’s Secretary of Administration, who will share her insights with us. Her responsibilities are many: management of clemency petitions, restoration of civil rights, extraditions, authentication of documents and commissioning of Notary Publics.
Kelly is a graduate of Lead Virginia, a statewide leadership program that gives a select group of professionals the opportunity to learn about regional differences and statewide needs, creating a nonpartisan network of informed, active leaders with a shared vision for the Commonwealth’s future. She currently serves on the Lead Virginia Board of Directors. She was named to Top 40 Under 40 by Style Weekly in 2017.
We will also conduct our formal business – hearing a report from President Mary Schilling, voting for new officers, and approving a budget for 2018-2019. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be available. We hope to see you there.
by Mary Schilling, President, LWV-Williamsburg Area
Again this year, Great Decisions, our signature foreign affairs lecture series, was a huge success—with sold-out crowds plus standbys. Doug Wood managed speaker selection and logistics while Doris and Harvey Margulies orchestrated registration, check-in procedures and correspondence. Mary Anne Miller coordinated hospitality. A special thanks to the team and their many volunteers who provided support. Great Decisions has earned high visibility in the community, and already subscribers are looking forward to next year’s series.
During General Assembly the LWV-VA’s Women’s Legislative Roundtable brought into focus the incredible array of bills proposed in the House of Delegates and the Senate. Each Wednesday a Williamsburg League contingent trekked to Richmond to hear non-profit executives, Delegates, and elected officials discuss bills as they moved through the legislative process. In direct conversations with our local Delegates and Senators we were able to advocate for League positions on a variety of bills. Our League consistently had the largest number of members present, and on one occasion, seated in the House Gallery, we were recognized by the Speaker. Concurrently, a number of League members wrote emails, sent letters, and made phone calls advocating on individual bills. The advocacy efforts were tracked as part of a challenge launched by the LWV-VA.
The March for Our Lives galvanized and mobilized persons of all ages and from diverse communities on issues of sensible gun legislation. What was conceived as a march in our nation’s capital ultimately became hundreds of marches across the country and even abroad on Saturday, March 24. A large crowd gathered at Colonial Williamsburg’s Capitol for speeches, then marched down Duke of Gloucester Street. Many League members joined in the march to demand common-sense solutions to curb gun violence. Others joined the March for Our Lives in DC where nearly a million people gathered near the US Capitol for speeches, videos, and music performances. Similar to other historic marches, these events provided opportunities for the exercise of free speech focused on a critical issue of our day.
“Empowering Voters, Defending Democracy” is the new LWV slogan! As noted by LWVUS, “Voting is a critical cornerstone of our democracy. We must protect the right to vote with laws and policies that make sure all eligible voters are free to exercise that right.” It is imperative that we work to expand voter access, work to register all eligible Americans to vote, and guard against any covert or overt attempts to suppress the right to vote. Further, we need to be vigilant and ready to stand up and speak out when our democratic institutions, norms, and rights are threatened. These are serious times.
Please join us for our Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 7, 4:30-6:30 pm, in New Town’s Legacy Hall. The event includes a reception, brief business meeting, and remarks by the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. Passionate about openness and inclusion in state government, Secretary Thomasson assists the Governor in recruiting and appointing Virginians for boards, commissions and councils. Her portfolio includes management of clemency petitions, restoration of civil rights, extraditions, authentication of documents and commissioning of Notary Publics. She is the Governor’s liaison to Virginia’s Indian Tribes as well as the Council on Women and was appointed by former Governor McAuliffe to the Virginia Information Technology Advisory Council. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting!
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.