Regrouping after two years in a largely “virtual” environment, the League of Women Voters of Arlington and the City of Alexandria used its June 12 annual meeting to focus on the future.
“Our League is fortunate to include many dedicated men and women – proven leaders [who will] help us be the very best we can be,” said Anne Murphy, who chaired the nomination committee presenting a slate of 2022-23 leaders that was unanimously approved.
As a result, current League of Women Voters president Joan Porte will serve a new two-year term. Pam Berg was elected treasurer and Don Gurney, Anna Weber, Ann Sharp and Laura Luessing were elected directors.
Porte, who has served as president for four years, said this would be her last stint at the helm. “We need people to come up through the ranks,” she said, encouraging members to consider leadership slots.
With more than 230 members, the Arlington-Alexandria organization is the third largest branch of the League of Women Voters in Virginia, behind Fairfax County and Williamsburg. Porte said her goal was to rise to No. 2.
At the annual meeting – held at the Hilton Garden Inn Shirlington – members voted to spend the coming year studying and revising their position statement on planning, land use and economic development, created in 1967 and updated seven times before in intervening years.
Members also heard of efforts to increase the organization’s presence in local schools, to develop a podcast and to broaden efforts (derailed by the pandemic) to bring voter-registration efforts to high-rise condominiums and apartments.
The organization also has embarked on an oral-history project, under the tutelage of the Center for Local History at Arlington Central Library.
“It’s a lot of fun to interview Leaguers who have been around a while,” said Beth Cogswell, who leads that effort.
Heading up the schools effort will be Alistair Watson, who not so long ago was a student at Wakefield High School and was encouraged to register to vote through a visit by League of Women Voters members.
“I didn’t understand anything about registering,” he said of his high-school years. “Young people, they don’t understand the importance of voting. That’s very sad.”
But, Watson said, when students are shown how they can have an impact on issues that are important to them, “their eyes light up.”
Much of the organization’s funding comes from a unique niche, as local League of Women Voters members provide election services to local condominiums when they hold board of directors’ elections.
The effort, led by Marjorie Hobart and Cogswell, presents lots of growth opportunity if the organization can find the volunteers to oversee more such elections.
“There are zillions of condos – that’s a lot of money,” Porte said. “We need to keep it up.”
In 2022, organization member Sherry Gainer received life membership, honoring 50 years of service to the organization, joining Judy Connally, Bonnie Franklin, Ida Claire Kerwin, Dorothy Niewig, Mary Kay Parker and Barbara Sherrill.
And proving the organization is always looking forward, Nancy Tate and Pam Fiumara were tapped to serve on the nominations committee for 2023’s leadership slate.
The Arlington League of Women Voters was established in 1944; in recent years it expanded its efforts to Alexandria. For information, see the Website at www.lwv-arlington.org.