Gutsy Women Were Galvanized at April 14 Brunch
Susan Block, Maxine Clark and Rita Days co-chaired EMPAC's 2018 fundraiser, a gala brunch at Moulin on April 14. The Caucus gave a Gutsy Woman Award to Becky Morgan, State President of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Morgan has organized 16 local chapters of this gun safety group to pressure lawmakers across Missouri to address gun violence. Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, Executive Director of Missouri Faith Voices, gave a rousing keynote address. She was introduced by State Rep. Stacey Newman. State Auditor Nicole Galloway joined dozens of other elected officials and candidates in the crowd.
Congratulations to Friends of the Caucus
Preliminary results from the April 3 election show the following Friends of the Caucus won: Laura Arnold running for Webster Groves City Council, Bridget McAndrew running for Clayton City Council, Sandi Phillips running for Maplewood City Council, Diane Livingston and Desiree Whitlock running for school board in Hazelwood, Ella Jones seeking re-election on the Ferguson City Council, Jean Marie Andrews running for Kirkwood Board of Education, and Kara Wurtz running for Kirkwood City Council.
Jan. 27 training prepares women for 2018 races
About 20 candidates and 60 other people interested in running or working on a campaign attended the Rise Up & Lead campaign training on Saturday, Jan. 27. Speakers for the one-day training included State Senators Maida Coleman, Jill Schupp and Gina Walsh; State Representatives Gretchen Bangert, Deb Lavender, Tracy McCreery and Cora Faith Walker; Megan Price, Melissa Alper, Jeanne Kirkton; Cheryl Hibbeler, Rosetta Okohson and Nancy Nix Rice. Topics ranged from Getting Started, Developing a Message and Communicating through Social Media to Fundraising, Voter Contact and Image. Former Senator Rita Heard Days was the dynamic luncheon speaker.
Caucus members were part of the 2018 Women's March for Truth in downtown St. Louis. Pictured above are former state representatives Margo McNeil and Jeanne Kirkton carrying the Caucus banner. Rebecca Now marched as suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Legislature needs more progressive women
"Run for office, please," Rep. Cora Faith Walker implored women after giving a legislative update at the Jan. 18 membership meeting. She criticized the Governor's nebulous tax plan and efforts to further cut revenue in a tough budget year. She said more women in the legislature would get things done, placing a higher priority on the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), education, reproductive health and reducing infant and maternal mortality rates. Michele Hornish also shared information on It Starts Today, an innovative way to fund legislative races statewide. For more information, go to itstarts.today/missouri. Click here to see the list of new officers Caucus members approved for 2018.
Holiday party boosts progressive spirits
Karen Kalish hosted the 2017 holiday party at her spectacular Clayton home. More than 100 people enjoyed the festivities, including multiple office holders and candidates. Pictured below are candidates Kathryn Ellis and Dana Kelly-Franks; Kathy McKemy, Lois VanderWaerdt, Shira Truitt, Ann Ross and M'Evie Mead; Rita Days and her daughter Evelyn; Jean Dugan, Senator Jill Schupp, Teona McGhaw-Boure, Margo McNeil and Jeanne Kirkton; and Barbara Fraser and Katherine Van Uum with Kalish.
Six incumbents receive early endorsement
The Caucus recently voted to endorse Senator Jill Schupp, Reps. Gretchen Bangert, Deb Lavender, Tracy McCreery, Gina Mitten, Sarah Unsicker and Cora Faith Walker for their 2018 re-election. The questionnaire is now available for other women candidates to complete before the May 17 endorsement meeting.
Abortion update from an ob/gyn and a pro-choice legislator
Two strong advocates for reproductive rights in Missouri, Rep. Stacey Newman and Dr. Colleen McNicholas, shared their first-hand experiences at the November Caucus meeting. Newman said it was eye-opening to shadow Dr. McNicholas during her medical appointments at an abortion clinic in Oklahoma City recently. Newman stressed that one in three women has had an abortion for a variety of reasons and seven in 10 voters support abortion rights, yet every year more than 30 bills are introduced in the Missouri General Assembly to further restrict this medical procedure. McNicholas criticized legislative interference in the practice of medicine that disproportionately impacts low-income women. She said, "I use my voice for people who shouldn't have to use their voice." Abortions are now available in Columbia and Kansas City, but a new law requires the doctor to meet with patients 72 hours before the procedure. In the picture shown above, Newman shows audience members a binder of ob/gyn facts she's compiled with the help of Dr. McNicholas.
Seminars focus on minority outreach, gender communication
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.
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.
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.
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 involvemen