2019-2020 Accomplishments

As presented at the AAUW of Virginia 95th Annual Business Meeting, April 17-19, 2019 in Alexandra, VA by AAUW Harrisonburg Co-President Laura Zarrugh:

  1. Celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Harrisonburg Branch on August 23, 2019 with a champagne reception, including recitation of highlights of the branch’s history.  An article on the 90th anniversary was published in Bloom magazine.
  2. Supported the VARatifyERA campaign, including urging the Harrisonburg City Council to support ratification.  The City Council unanimously adopted a resolution in support of Virginia ratifying the ERA in January 2019.
  3. Supported the International Women’s Day Parade, with our member Sue Gier presenting at the program following the parade at the Rockingham County Courthouse in March 2019.
  4.  Supported the annual “Expanding Your Horizons” STEM Conference workshops for girls (grades 6-10), held at James Madison University (JMU) in March 2019.
  5.  Hosted the Northwest District Meeting, with a presentation on “Inclusion and Diversity” by Cyndi Shanahan in October 2019.
  6.  Hosted AAUW-VA Summer Leadership Meetings (SLM) held at the Hotel Madison/Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, and conducted walking tours of downtown Harrisonburg and the JMU Arboretum in conjunction with the SLM’s in 2018 and 2019.
  7.  Initiated a Diversity Book Discussion Group, based on Cyndi Shanahan’s Diversity Reading List, in Fall 2019.
  8.  Sponsored a Great Decisions Discussion Group (initiated in 2017) with meetings featuring speakers and casual lunches
  9. Distributed approximately 45 voter registration application forms at each monthly naturalization ceremony in Harrisonburg, and 80 applications at the yearly ceremony held in Staunton

# 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 are ongoing in 2020

In 2020-21, we will continue the push on equal pay legislation, and we will also be working on Get Out the Vote (GoTV) this fall.

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           AAUW of Virginia Members ZOOM to New Heights in July 2020

A record number of Virginia members of the American Association of University Women, a national advocate for women’s equity, attended their annual Summer Leadership Meeting on July 25, 26, and 27.  In ZOOM sessions over the three days, members attended virtual meetings to hone their leadership skills, strategize Federal and state advocacy efforts, and most importantly, stand in solidarity against racism.

Keynote speaker Mark Bowers, Founder and Executive Director of the Professional Development Consortium of Hampton Roads (PDCHR), kicked off the meeting by sharing practical advice on how to enhance the value of the organization to its members, identify target members, and engage members by using “Lead Smarter, Not Harder” methods.

Day 2 shined a spotlight on AAUW’s advocacy. Kate Nielson, AAUW Director of Public Policy and Legal Advocacy, spoke about plans for public policy and legal advocacy at AAUW, and the leadership role branches play in promoting AAUW’s public policy priorities. Madison Roberts, a recent UVA Master of Public Policy graduate, briefed the group on her gender-pay equity wage gap research, making significant recommendations for state legislation.

State Co-Vice Presidents for Public Policy, Susan Burk and Denise Murden, followed with a blueprint for AAUW-VA public policy activities for the coming year, including a major focus on nonpartisan Get Out the Vote activities. AAUW believes that when women vote, they change the conversation!! AAUW of Virginia members will be engaging with lawmakers in Richmond on economic security issues for women and families.

Day 3 was headlined by Dr. Janice Underwood, who was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first cabinet-level Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. This position is the first of its kind in the nation. Dr. Underwood challenged AAUW of Virginia to have the hard conversations about race and implement the One Virginia Statewide Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence as a model.  She urged AAUW members to link arms with other organizations to fight racial injustice and be part of the progress so that Virginia can be a more inclusive and welcoming place.

A stirring presentation was delivered by Dr. Angela Hattery and Dr. Earl Smith modeled on their book Policing Black Bodies: How Black Lives are Surveilled and How to Work for Change.  They described the ways, from slavery through 2020, that Black women’s bodies have been policed both literally and symbolically. Their presentation closed with a “call for action,” prescribing what AAUW could contribute to dismantling systemic racism. Dr. Hattery is the Incoming Co-Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Gender-Based Violence and Professor of Women and Gender Bias at the University of Delaware, and Dr. Smith is Professor Emeritus of American Ethnic Studies and Sociology at Wake Forest University.

The meeting closed with the inspiring words of the late Congressman John R. Lewis–an American hero whose words should live on in the actions that we each take. From his book, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, Rep. Lewis wrote: “Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.”

Information from the AAUW-VA Summer Leadership Meeting is at https://aauw-va.aauw.net/summer-leadership-meeting/  AAUW empowers women and girls through research, education, and advocacy. This nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has more than 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 800 college and university partners and 1,000 local branches, 24 of which are in Virginia including the Harrisonburg area at “AAUW Harrisonburg”.