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The Alabama Voter 
Summer 2010 Edition
Published July 19, 2010

Former League Presidents Participate in Panel Discussion

by Scarlett Gaddy, Second Vice-President


Sunday afternoon's panel discussion was wonderful! The eight past LWVUS Presidents since 1964 (Lucy Benson, Ruth Hinerfeld, Dorothy Rydings, Nancy Newman, Susan Lederman, Becky Cain, Carolyn Jenkins, and Kay Maxwell) shared an overview of their experiences as President and answered questions. Each former President shared personal stories from her tenure as President and then answered questions about League. What have been the LWV's most significant accomplishments/strengths? (Identified by Past Presidents)

  • The passage of the Motor Voter Bill
  • Trade Legislation gained through advocacy
  • Maintaining our reputation and integrity while fighting "city hall". The League was chosen by advocacy partners to spearhead the fight for campaign finance reform and health care because the public trusts the LWV.
  • The League has maintained continuity of staff over the years.
  • The League's willingness to adapt to technological changes of the 21st century
How do we continue to preserve the League's reputation?
  • Stick to the facts - conduct the study carefully and stick to the position
  • Continue to do what we do best - brand the issues and keep them, choose the program carefully because it helps create the perception about your League
  • Be persistent - the League persists when others tire of the fight and move on
  • Presidents have to DELEGATE and not try to do it all.
  • Figure out what your League does best and stick to it.
  • Maintain the membership - continue the training, culture, and methodology
  • Nurture the grassroots of the organization because without them, the organization is not effective.
What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with new Local League Presidents?
  • Delegate and have some fun
  • Have the courage to walk into a room and strike a conversation with others you don't know - introduce yourself
  • Keep your cool and exercise common sense in difficult situations. Think carefully before reacting.
  • ASK people to join the League!
  • The President cannot do it all - others have to share the mantle of responsibility, you have to prioritize your League interests and involvement
  • Aid in the transition of Leadership. Transition is not moving a box of "stuff" from one place to another. Develop the leadership potential of your Local League's membership.
What can the League of Women Voters do to bring back civility in public discourse?
  • Set an example for others to follow.
  • Sticking to our process of discussion will aid you in keeping discussion civil.
  • Choose your media representatives carefully.
  • Remember when we have studied an issue and formulated a position, we don't have an exclusive on the "truth". The most effective testimony is to suggest League has studied an issue, has decided what is best, but identify what others believe as well.
  • Don't spend your time with media "celebrities" who make their living exaggerating the differences in political opinion.  

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