Thursday, Aug. 31 Celebrate the Vote Festival, 6:30 - 8:30, Art Beat Studio
Saturday, Aug. 26: Women's Equality Day Brunch, 9:30 - 3:30
Saturday, October 14: Campaign Training, 9:30 am - 3 pm, The Heights
Saturday, April 14, 2018: Gutsy Women Brunch/Fundraiser, Moulin
Second Woman 2 Woman seminar focuses on minority outreach
Moderated by former State Senator Rita Heard-Days, an August 17 panel discussed how to engage people of color in the political process. St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones represented the African American community; Alexandra Johnson represented the Hispanic community; and Caroline Fan represented the Asian community.
Days quoted Maya Angelou: "In diversity, there is beauty and there is strength." She said conversations about race, privilege and disenfranchisement are timely in light of the recent violence in Charlottesville and many cities poised for demonstrations.
Instead of talking about increasing diversity, Jones suggested using the word inclusion to indicate the need for more people of color both at the table and able to make decisions. She said we need an equity lens to change policies so everyone has a fair shot at the American dream.
“There’s power to being first, blazing a path and building from there,” Fan said, mentioning several minority candidates who have been elected to office in other states. She commended the Caucus for focusing on local and state candidates to build a farm team.
“We need people who will be agents of change regardless of their skin color,” Johnson said. “Every different culture has something different to bring to the table. We need to lock arms and stand together.”
Panelists said groups are working to help Missouri voters get the proper ID and register to vote. Candidates must not take any group of voters for granted and speak out on issues people care about to motivate them to vote on election day. Key issues for most voters are jobs with livable wages and benefits, health care, education and taxes. Hispanics are more likely to care about immigration, while African-Americans want criminal justice reform.
The panelists recognized differences in how candidates can reach minority communities. Fan suggested placing ads in Chinese newspapers. Jones said candidates must go door-to-door to leave literature and reach out to black churches to reach African-American voters. Johnson said many Hispanic-Americans are afraid of authority and won’t answer the door, much less vote, so a candidate should find key players within the community to vouch for her.
Days said progressives must channel our anger and energy when our rights are taken away. She suggested being that grain of sand that irritates and “make a nice pearl from that oyster.”
On June 22, the Caucus joined with the St. Louis Press Club to present "Conquering Communication and the Great (Gender) Divide" at the Urban League. Pictured above are Shira Truitt, Aja Williams, Angelina Bills and Caucus President Margo McNeil. Bills handles communications for the Urban League and shared more than a dozen messaging tips for candidates, stressing the need to speak up and share what you’re doing even after you’re elected to office. She said women can wear feminine colors but need to look the part with attire that’s professional and not seductive. She stressed the need to be forthright, informed and honest.
Williams, Nine Network's Digital Media Producer, focused on social media, saying it should be an extension of your messaging. “It’s all about the connection and engagement,” she said. “It’s a more direct way to get the attention of your constituents and the media.” She shared examples of effective Tweets and Facebook posts and ways to increase reach with video and infographics.
Caucus welcomes 35 new members
New members shared why they were inspired to join the Caucus at a June 11 reception hosted by Kathy McKemy. More than 50 women attended, including about half of the 35 women who recently joined. Legislators in attendance included Reps. Deb Lavender, Tracy McCreery, Mary Nichols, Sarah Unsicker, and Cora Faith Walker.
Members hear good, bad and ugly of legislative session
At the May membership meeting, Assistant Minority Leader Gina Mitten gave an overview of some good legislation that passed in 2017, several bad bills that passed and many more that didn't. She highlighted SB43 as one of the worst bills now on Governor Greiten's desk. It would gut the Human Rights Act to remove personal liability in discrimination suits and gut whistleblower protections.
Angie Postal, Planned Parenthood's Director of Public Policy, focused on legislation affecting reproductive rights that may hurt patients' access to care they need. She said the budget includes language blocking Medicaid for any health care or family planning provider that offers abortion referral. For more information, go to PPMissouri.org.
Postal promoted Clean Missouri, an ethics reform initiative that needs 280,000 signatures to be on the November 2018 ballot. EMPAC Chair Jeanne Kirkton shared information on court action to strike some provisions of Amendment 2 to limit campaign contributions.
Kirkton also shared information on the Caucus offering a "Friend of the Caucus" designation and mentorship for women running for city council, school board and other local offices.
Cemetery Tour Highlights St. Louis Suffragettes
More than 30 women enjoyed the May 21 suffragette tour of Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum. Ann Ross placed flowers on Ida Wolfolk's grave and we learned about several prominent women buried there, including Virginia Minor, who tried to vote in 1872, a battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
At a wine and cheese reception after the tour, docent Mary Ellen Vander Linden gave an historic presentation posing as Edna Fischel Gellhorn looking back on her life. Gellhorn presided at a state convention of suffragettes in Columbia after the 1914 legislative session. After Missouri passed the Federal Suffrage Amendment on July 3, 1919, she received a telegram saying Iowa had narrowly beat Missouri to ratification. Gellhorn helped form the national League of Women Voters.
Galvanizing Hundreds of Gutsy Women in St. Louis
Almost 300 women gathered April 1 for the Galvanizing Gutsy Women fundraiser for the Eastern Missouri Political Action Committee (EMPAC). Former state reps Jeanne Kirkton and Margo McNeil served as emcees, giving an award and campaign manual to St. Louis women's march organizer Valerie Brinkman.
Syndicated columnist Aisha Sultan gave an inspiring speech on the current surreal political reality and tendency of some people who don’t want to believe a documented news story to call it fake news. She said gutsy women need to be stealth agents for truth. "It will be women who clean up this mess."
Other speakers included St. Louis mayoral candidate Lyda Krewson who asked for support on April 4 so she can become the first St. Louis mayor to carry a purse. Senator Claire McCaskill explained why she's voting against Judge Gorsuch and why the women's march was such a high.
Five founding mothers of the St. Louis Caucus attended: Sally Barker, Susan Block Vivian Eveloff, Marcia Mellitz, and Betty Van Uum. Other elected officials included State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Senator Jill Schupp, Reps. Gretchen Bangert, Deb Lavender, Tracy McCreery, Gina Mitten, Stacey Newman, Sarah Unsicker, County Executive Steve Stenger, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and several school board members and alderwomen.
St. Louis Welcomes First Female Mayor
Congratulations to Lyda Krewson for becoming the mayor of the city of St. Louis. Tishaura Jones came in a very close second in the Democratic primary, ahead of five male candidates. Other local women winners include Pam Ross for St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees and Margo McNeil for Hazelwood School Board.
Thousands of Area Women March, Rally, Act
On Jan. 21, members of the NWPC-STL joined other women's and civil rights organizations in making a statement in support of justice, equality and truth for ALL. Caucus members marching included Margo McNeil, Jeanne Kirkton, Laura Cohen, Ann Ross, Jean Dugan, Marcia Mellitz, Renee Marver, Sarah Unsicker, and Jane von Kaenel. The Caucus booth was staffed by Kathy McKemy, Corrine Austin, Linda Tatum and Ann Ross.
In a news release, Caucus President Margo McNeil said, "I’m excited to march, rally and act to encourage women to voice their concerns and get more involved in the political process. We march to show state and national leaders that we are engaged and willing to act to protect the rights, health, and safety of women and their families. We rally to let all women in the region know that we can make a difference. We will act to let women know what they can do if they don’t like what’s happening in Jefferson City or Washington, D.C.”
January Meeting Looks Forward
Senator Jill Schupp shared her insights on the new legislature and what to expect from Jefferson City this session at the Jan. 19 meeting. She credited Donald Trump for finally bringing Democrats together and urged attendees to stay enthusiastic and involved, keeping in touch and using social media to get the message out. She urged members to check a weekly podcast available at www.headsupmissouri.com that she is doing with other female legislators. “Elections have consequences," she said. "We must make people understand what's going on. ... It can't just be God, guns and gynecology anymore."
Three women who won legislative seats in 2016 attended: Rep. Gretchen Bangert (D-69), Cora Faith Walker (D-74) and Sarah Unsicker (D-91). Bangert shared her journey, saying, "I wouldn't have won without the financial support of this organization, the mailings they did and checks from Caucus members."
Approximately half the crowd had never attended a Caucus meeting before, and 10 women joined. Pictured above are NWPC-STL President Margo McNeil, Ann Ross, Sen. Jill Schupp, Ferguson mayoral candidate Ella Jones and Rep. Sarah Unsicker.
Post-Election Gatherings Focus on Activism
Thanks to Sally Barker for hosting the 2016 holiday party. Numerous officeholders, Caucus founders and friends of the Caucus enjoyed a lovely buffet and conversations about how to encourage women to get more politically active at all levels.
Pictured below are speakers for the Nov. 10 election recap: voting rights advocate Denise Lieberman, moderator Rachel Lippman from KWMY, UMSL public policy professor Dave Robertson and KWMU political journalist Jo Mannies. Pictured with the Caucus banner are Ann Ross, Dean Tomey, Mary Wochner, Margo McNeil and Jean Dugan.
Caucus Congratulates 13 Women Winners
Congratulations to the 10 Caucus-endorsed candidates who won their legislative races on Nov. 8: Sarah Unsicker, Cora Faith Walker, Gretchen Bangert, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, and Reps. Deb Lavender, Tracy McCreery, Sue Meredith, Gina Mitten, Stacey Newman and Mary Nichols. Congrats also to Rochelle Walton Gray (County Council, District 4), Tishaura Jones (St. Louis City Treasurer), and Kimberly Gardner (Circuit Attorney).
The Eastern Missouri Political Action Committee (EMPAC) donated more than $15,000 to women candidates in 2016, including mailings to pro-choice women voters coordinated with the campaigns of Deb Lavender, Sarah Unsicker, Vicki Englund, Karen Settlemore-Berg and Gretchen Bangert. Click here for the news release on 2016 endorsements.
Celebrating the Vote
The Caucus sponsored the Sept. 3 Celebrate the Vote rally downtown, distributing brochures and selling buttons that said "When Women Vote, Women Win." Participants included Sen. Jill Schupp, Reps. Margo McNeil and Deb Lavender, Dianne Modrell, Kristen Weber, Jean Dugan, Ann Ross, Bev White, Laura Cohen, Kristen Weber, Cori Austin, Renee Marver, Carol Stroker, Barbara Bennet, Rea Kleaman, Marty Ott, Jane von Kaenel and Linda Tatum.
Celinda Lake Inspires Caucus Members at State Convention
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake shared data on the gender gap, advice on effective messaging for candidates and a challenge to get out young and unmarried women to vote in November at the Missouri Women's Political Caucus convention. National President Donna Lent from New York shared her insights on chapters across the country. Leslie Broadnax was elected as an officer of the Missouri Women's Political Caucus. Other St. Louis members attending included Jean Dugan, Mary Wochner, Ella Jones, Angie Postal, Margo McNeil, Cheria Parnell and Ann Ross.
Caucus Endorses Candidates at May Meeting
Candidates Deb Lavender, Sue Meredith, Gretchen Bangert, Teona McGhaw-Boure, Dan Wibracht, Barbara Stocker, Mary Nichols, Teresa Hensley, Mary Pat Carl, Sarah Unsicker, Rachel Johns, Kimberly Gardner and Cora Faith Walker
“It is harder for women candidates,” Attorney General candidate Teresa Hensley told Caucus members at the May 19 meeting. Incoming Caucus President Margo McNeil agreed, saying having a woman as the Democratic Party’s nominee made the election an opportunity to highlight female candidates, but women currently make up just 24 percent of the Missouri House.
Jeanne Kirkton, the new chair of the Eastern Missouri Political Action Committee (EMPAC) that donates to Caucus-endorsed candidates, said, “After 14 years of raising money, it’s going to be nice to hand it out.” EMPAC gave more than $5,300 in cash and in-kind contributions for the primary. Click here for the news release on 2016 endorsements.
Candidates Learn about Messaging at Campaign Training
The Caucus conducted a candidate and issues training with the National Council of Jewish Women last June. Speakers included State Reps. Deb Lavender (pictured), Margo McNeil, Tracy McCreery and Stacey Newman.
Amazing Tour of Women in Art
Docent Babs Shapiro led a wonderful tour of the St. Louis Art Museum's collection of art portraying women or by women artists on April 15. The 50 attendees included Teresa Hensley who was endorsed by the Missouri Women's Political Caucus to be the state's first female Attorney General (pictured bottom right with Leslie Broadnax).
Proud of our History
- to increase women's participation in the political process;
- to increase the number of women in elected and appointed positions;
- to achieve greater equality for women;
- to support candidates who support our goals;
- to work to eradicate sexism, racism, ageism, poverty, discrimination against the disabled, and discrimination on the basis of religion;
- to ensure reproductive freedom and freedom of sexual orientation;
- to stimulate and encourage political involvement by all women in the St. Lois metropolitan area;
- to encourage the enactment of legislation beneficial to women;
- to offer opportunities to learn about the machinery of politics through workshops, networking and personal experience;
- to provide a vehicle for enhancing individual, personal and professional development; and
- to allow individual members an opportunity to ascertain their own priorities for political involvement.