Skip to main content

2019 Council Highlights

League leaders from 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, convened June 20 - 23 in Leesburg, Virginia for trainings, presentations, and networking. The theme of the 2019 National Council Meeting was 'The Power of our Transformation,' and designed for League members to participate in strategic conversations about the future of the organization.  

This document provides an overview of the Council sessions. Resources from the various meetings will be posted on a separate page on the League Management site. Bios of the presenters can be found here. 

Open House hosted by the League of Women Voters of Washington, D.C.

National Council began with an open house hosted by the LWV of D.C. to welcome all attendees.  League leaders had the opportunity to network and socialize as they heard from LWVDC members and a guest speaker from the Mayor's office about the fight for D.C. statehood.

99 Years of the Power of Women

Council kicked off with opening remarks from LWVUS President Chris Carson, and Virginia Kase, the CEO of LWVUS. Chris and Virginia reflected on the progress made around the four big areas of the transformation journey since Convention 2018. These include: advancing a clear strategic focus, developing a more inclusive culture, building a healthier League network, and increasing capacity at all levels.

Council kicked off with opening remarks from Virginia Kase, the CEO of LWVUS.

Council attendees heard from Tanya Clay House, the Senior Program Officer for the State Infrastructure Fund. Tanya provided an overview of the current democracy space and some of the threats to it. She provided an “outside in” perspective on our power as an organization, and gave advice to League leaders about how to amplify that power as we approach our 100th anniversary.

State leaders got a sneak peek of a digital campaign LWVUS will launch in August 2019 to kick off the 100th Anniversary of the League of Women Voters. The 100th Anniversary committee of the national board has worked closely with LWVUS staff and Beaconfire RED, a design and website firm, to build a visibility campaign that celebrates the work of the League through volunteer stories. Prior to launch Leagues will receive a tool kit should they want to participate in this digital campaign. LWVUS will host a webinar later this summer to answer questions and provide direction for the digital campaign. 

Power of Culture Change

Eliza Leighton, with The Management Center, provided a session on goal inhibition and on implicit and explicit bias and how they impact the way and ability for organizations to grow. League leaders learned about a useful tool in which to frame their work to help to mitigate bias. Leaders worked in small groups on an exercise to explore the “League way” through the lens of preferences, traditions, and requirements to better understand what might be obstacles to achieving results and furthering the mission impact of the League.

Power of Our Story

League leaders heard from Jeanette Senecal, Senior Director of Mission Impact, about the successful work achieved by the League in the 2018 election cycle and thru the first part of 2019. This included updates on litigation, federal advocacy, and voter education and outreach.

League leaders also received a media training from ReThink Media, a nonprofit that supports communications needs of organizations in the democracy space. Leaders got to self-select three breakout trainings to practice media interviews, learn about expanding relationships with reporters, and strategic communication planning for individual Leagues.

Former LWVUS President Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins spoke to Council attendees about the role of women of color in the League's founding and history.

Former LWVUS President Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins spoke to Council attendees about the role of women of color in the League's founding and history. Ms. Jefferson-Jenkins, who is writing a book on the topic, shaped the conversation around the League's current commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Her book, which will be published in early 2020, seeks to tell the story of the African American women who are often left out of the history books. She ended with a powerful call to action for each delegate to embrace the change needed to be the diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization that we envision.

Power of Relationships

With over 100 League leaders in one place, some of the best conversations happened over meals and social time. State leaders had the opportunity to dine with their LWVUS Board liaison to build relationships and hear from other state leaders. Council attendees also participated in a game night, playing Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game.

Council attendees participated in a game night, playing Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game.

Sustaining Our Personal Power

In planning National Council, LWVUS staff wanted to make sure there was time for self-care. Attendees had time to enjoy the Leesburg campus with nature walks, running, and yoga classes.

Amplifying Our Power

As the League moves into our second century, LWVUS board and staff have been exploring what the next phase of our transformation work around creating a clear strategic focus. Council attendees participated in an interactive session led by the Alvarez Porter consulting group, who has been working with the organization over the past few months to advance this work. As a group, attendees explored the threats to our democracy, shared the “bright spots” or successes in the field and brainstormed about a big and audacious goal for the organization for its second century. Attendees also participated in a session that more closely explored why our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is so important and what steps League leaders can take to further that work. In particular, the group looked at the “Wheel of Change” model to help understand what is needed for transformation to succeed.   

Exercising Our Power

Nonprofit attorney John Pomeranz explored how we exercise our power as a nonpartisan organization in these hyper-partisan times. He reviewed the nuance of tax law and League policy around our nonpartisanship and asked attendees to delve into what is permissible and what is not through case studies.

Protecting Our Power

LWVUS president Chris Carson and nonprofit attorney John Pomeranz spoke about ways to ensure a healthy League network. Council attendees had the opportunity to provide input as we explore what processes and systems we need to have in place to protect all levels of the League.

Enhancing Our Power

LWVUS staff hosted breakout sessions to help build power. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in two of the following sessions:

  • Direct Voter Contact: What's Next in Get out the Vote
  • How to Build Out a Statewide Campaign
  • Data and Evaluation 101
  • Data and Evaluation 201
  • Data Driven Decision Making: Making the Best Use of Web Analytics and Email Marketing Information
  • Increasing Your Engagement on Social Media
  • LWVUS Media Relations Support for Leagues
  • Fundraising 101: Anyone can be a Superstar LWV Fundraiser 
  • Fundraising 201: FUNdraising: Techniques for effective & fun fundraising
  • The ABCs of AMCs: Association Management Companies and Your League

Celebrating Our Power

On the last night of Council, League leaders enjoyed a dessert reception for more networking and were able to celebrate the accomplishments of the organization.

On the last night of Council, League leaders enjoyed a dessert reception for more networking and were able to celebrate the accomplishments of the organization.

Building Future Power

Marla Weston, a board governance consultant, talked with attendees about how to build powerful boards. She provided practical tips to help set up boards up to succeed and to ensure that there is space for strategic and generative dialogue and planning. 

Sue Smith, chairperson of the LWVUS Nominating Committee spoke to Council attendees about their search process for future national board members and members of the nominating committee. She challenged all to think of candidates to nominate for these important roles.

Chris and Virginia thanked attendees for being present and participating in this important work. The attendees debriefed about taking the lessons from 2019 Council back to their state Leagues. LWVUS staff and national board are already underway planning for Convention 2020, which will take place in Washington, D.C. on June 25-28. A first call to Convention will be issued in October.