Gould to keynote sold-out April 14 brunch
Susan Block, Maxine Clark and Rita Days are co-chairs of EMPAC's 2018 fundraiser, a gala brunch on Saturday, April 14, from 11 am to 1 pm at Moulin. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, Executive Director of Missouri Faith Voices. Gould is a dynamic speaker, teacher and prophetic voice who is often quoted in the media as one who speaks truth to power regarding various injustices. All proceeds will support progressive women candidates. Go to for more information.
Congratulations to candidates named Friends of the Caucus
The following local candidates were recently approved as Friends of the Caucus: Jean Marie Andrews and Meredith Byers running for Kirkwood Board of Education, Laura Arnold running for Webster Groves City Council, Rita Days running for mayor of Bel-Nor, Bridget McAndrew running for Clayton City Council, Sandi Phillips running for Maplewood City Council, Mavis Thompson seeking re-election as St. Louis License Collector; and Diane Livinsgton and Desiree Whitlock running for school board in Hazelwood. They join Dana Kelly-Franks running for St. Louis License Collector, Ella Jones seeking re-election on the Ferguson City Council, Rep. Mary Nichols running for Mayor of Maryland Heights, and Kara Wurtz running for Kirkwood City Council. Friends of the Caucus is a new program to give women in local races access to a Caucus mentor and other benefits. For more information, contact Sue Kaiser at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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