Did We Turn the Tide for Equality?

Did we turn the tide for equality? Time…and our members…will tell.

Every vote counts. Tired of hearing that? You still don’t believe it, even after the Minnesota Senate race recount? Then consider this: our new National NOW leaders won by a margin of eight votes.

Minnesota NOW arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana with a delegation of eight strong, dedicated feminists of all ages, occupations…and both genders…for the National NOW Conference, held July 19 – 21. Doing the math, our delegates just might have turned the election. See the power of your vote now?

Although the winning slate campaigned for only five weeks, delegates elected the Feminist Leadership NOW team of Terry O’Neill, President; Bonnie Grabenhofer, Executive VP; Minnesota’s own Erin Matson (yes!), Action VP; and Allendra Letsome, Membership VP. They campaigned on sisterhood, action, collaboration, results…and good old grassroots women’s power and action. I firmly believe this is what NOW needs…do you agree?

Get to know your new leadership team. They’ve pledged to lead as peers, to listen to us, to work for us, and to be accountable to us. Read their Feminist Leadership NOW blog http://feministleadershipnow.wordpress.com to learn more about their philosophy. Check out the National NOWweb site, too – they officially took office in Washington, D.C. on July 21.

Plenaries, workshops, and socializing, oh my.

We did more than just campaign, discuss candidate merits, debate, and visit hospitality suites. Conference attendees heard from women imparting wisdom and wit as plenary speakers, and leading us in discussion and debate during an overwhelming number of workshops.

 The first woman we heard from was Shirley Harrington-Watson of the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Agriculture. Yes, the USDA sponsored the National NOW Conference. As a woman in the ag industry, I chuckled…and then felt pretty proud (FYI, 43% of USDA employees are women).

 Plenaries that followed included journalist/author/activist Barbara Ehrenreich; Lulu Flores, President of the National Women’s Political Caucus; Donna Smith (seen SiCKO? that’s her); Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (running for U.S. Senate); Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore; Reverend Dr. Katherine Ragsdale, president/dean of the Episcopal Divinity School; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College; and outgoing NOW president Kim Gandy.

 Workshops focused on issues and action including sexual/domestic violence; retirement; finances; sexual health; marriage equality; prison advocacy; Islamic fundamentalism; changing media/policy with feminist voices; Title IX; states limits on women’s reproductive rights; reforming welfare; challenges of young women; classism/racism in auto insurance; CEDAW, trafficking, global feminism; family court; health care reform; and the Organizing and Political Institute tracks.

Turning the Tide for Equality, the 2009 Conference theme, fits the philosophy of the new National leadership and of MN NOW. Watch for more about MN NOW’s fresh plans for our organization…and the strong push to return to our (grass)roots.

In Sisterhood,

Jessica K. Trites Rolle

Feminist, MN NOW Legislative Coordinator

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