I joined the Chicago Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in 1983. That was one year after I married Richard (on 6/27/82), and part of the emotional process of relinquishing my hopes for an academic career. I didn’t know where the future would lead, I only knew that although I would probably never be a university professor, my commitment to education in general–and my commitment to education for women in particular–would never waiver.
It is no exaggeration to say that AAUW provided an essential bridge from “there” (1983) to “here” (2015). In the intervening years I have met innumerable wonderful women as committed as I to the principle of “education & self-development over the lifespan” (which was the AAUW motto when I first joined). As is my nature, I threw myself in with both feet, serving first on the local level, then on the state level, and eventually on the national level.
I am proud to say I made substantial contributions to various events and projects along the way. In one of the milestone moments of my life, I received the AAUW-Illinois Agent of Change Award right before my move to Brooklyn in 2012. I was only the second woman from Chicago to win this award. The first was Patricia Crowley. My heart was bursting with pride.
So why, after all these years, have I decided to part ways with AAUW?
Quite frankly, I did not expect the 2016 Presidential Contest to turn into quite such a mudfest quite so fast… but it has… So I now feel compelled to take an action which puts me at odds with official AAUW policy.
I have set-up a new Facebook site:
And I am now actively campaigning for HRC as hard as I can.
However we may feel about it as individuals, AAUW as an organization is non-partisan by policy and practice, and I have always thought that was a very good thing.
So to protect AAUW’s mission, I am revoking my AAUW membership to ensure that AAUW is not “tainted” by any activities I may take as an individual citizen of the USA going forward.
Make no mistake: my gratitude to the members of AAUW–past, present, and future–is beyond measure, and my commitment to AAUW ideals will never waiver.
But for right now, there is almost nothing that is more important to me than keeping the White House in Democratic hands through 2020 (and hopefully beyond).
Therefore, my hope is that whatever happens on the Republican side, Democrats of all persuasions will continue to “Walk the High Road,” so that we can come together again after the primary season to support our candidate (whoever that candidate may be).
PHOTOS (From many years taken by many different people)
1.) Top Photo (April 2012): With Alice Smith in Itasca, IL right after receiving the “Agent of Change” Award. Alice invited me onto her Women’s Issues Committee (which she chaired in the late ’80s), and she brought me back into state activities after I left consulting in the 2001. (In the interim, I remained active at the local level, but could not accommodate much more due to my heavy travel schedule.) By that time, Alice had ascended to the presidency of AAUW-Illinois.
2.) Middle Photo (June 2007): With Kim Benziger at the AAUW National Convention in Phoenix AZ. In 2004, AAUW-Illinois President-Elect Kim Benziger invited me to serve as Director of College & University Relations from 2004 to 2006. Little did she know that this would eventually lead to WITASWAN & International SWAN Day!
3.) Middle Photo (Sept 2014): At the College of Mount Saint Vincent with Maria Ellis (President of New York’s Empire State Virtual Branch) and Ellen Tejle (one of the WIFT-Sweden members who crated the A-Rating to promote worldwide adoption of the Bechdel Test).
4.) Bottom Photo (Spring 2006): A meeting of the original Hyde Park Swans hosted by Diana Gray (bottom left). This was during the period Diana shared an apartment with her daughter Melissa Harris-Lacewell and her granddaughter Parker. At that point, Melissa was an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago. Melissa is now Presidential Chair Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University, as well as host of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC.
Two roads diverge… with gratitude to Robert Frost. Who knows what Frost meant when he wrote these words? All I can say is that they continue to sustain me right now.