Explore diverse stories of women who have shaped past and present progress for voting rights, and join us in this movement as we celebrate 100 years of fighting for democracy.
She is me.
Member stories that inspire.
Telling Our Stories
Living in Ohio as a young goverment teacher and community activist, Carolyn wanted to attend the 1980 LWV-sponsored presidential debate. Learning that tickets were only available to Cleveland League members, she joined.
Membership with the League gave Carolyn unique access to policymakers. Her passion for education and democracy reform put her in front of the school board, city council, and eventually the state legislature. A historian by nature, Carolyn wrote a book for the LWV Education Fund, One Man, One Vote: The History of the African American Vote in the United States.
In the mid-90s, Carolyn served on the national board of LWV, becoming the national president in 1998. During her tenure, Carolyn shepherded the League into the technology age, launching LWV’s first voter information website, DNet—the predecessor to VOTE411. She testified before Congress, conveying the League’s support of important bills like the Help America Vote Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
As the League’s first African American national president, Carolyn made it her mission to prioritize diversity in the League’s initiatives and partnerships. Now, she’s carrying on that mission with her new book, The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters.
“The best way to celebrate what we’ve accomplished is by looking at our stories. The resolve of those women that have come before us gives us the energy to move forward.”
Turning Out Young Voters
Adena first encountered the League of Women Voters as a college student, when her local League asked her to help register and mobilize her fellow students. Finding herself to be a natural organizer and civic leader, Adena became more and more involved in her Berkeley, CA, League and was eventually elected as the youngest president in their history.
Adena’s democracy advancement work skyrocketed from there. She led initiatives to engage young voters and voters of color, established efforts to increase diversity in League membership, and even helped implement voting rights for 16 and 17-year-olds in local school board elections. As a young, passionate League leader, Adena’s advocacy is shaping the next century of League activism.
“In a democracy, you need the people to make it work. The people are the power.”
Engaging Local Government
As a student, Brendan was engaged in national politics, eager to make a difference. But after graduation, he found himself burnt out—powerless to change decisions that affected him as a young person. That’s when he was approached by his friend’s mother, who asked him to get involved with the New Jersey League.
A few months later, Brendan was frustrated to learn an oil pipeline was planned to route through his town. He wanted to stop it, but he didn’t know how. So, he talked with members of the League’s natural resources committee, who provided him tools and introduced him to activists who helped him fight off the pipeline.
Brendan credits the inter-generational mentorship at the League with turning his cynicism into action and re-energizing his engagement with local government. It’s at the local level where Brendan feels he can really effect change.
“I have learned so much from these amazing women who have been fighting for the things I care about longer than I’ve been alive.”
Defending Voting Rights
Moments after she took the oath of citizenship at her naturalization ceremony, Luisa was greeted by the League of Women Voters who encouraged her to use her new rights by registering to vote. After participating in her first election, Luisa wanted to do more—to use her rights to expand others’. She joined the League that had registered her, eager to amplify her newly empowered voice.
As a new League member, Luisa dove into voter registration, visiting high schools to register students, taking on voter education projects to get out the vote among minority communities. But where she feels most fulfilled is when she registers new citizens to vote at naturalization ceremonies. That’s where everything comes full circle for her.
Luisa’s passion for defending voting rights comes from a profound place: knowing first-hand the power that comes from exercising your voice after a lifetime of waiting.
“Embracing new citizens as people with the potential to affect change in our democracy is one of the greatest things the League does. It’s one of the most special things I get to do in terms of advocacy.”
Making Sure All Votes Count
As an engaged community activist in her small Michigan town, Sue first encountered the League of Women Voters while working to get a neighborhood school rebuilt. Through the success of that project, Sue saw the power of the League to reform local government and improve the community. Now an active League member and former Michigan state League president, Sue is focused on growing the future of the League and making sure all votes count.
In her outreach to energize Michiganders about fair districts, Sue grew the Ann Arbor League from just shy of 80 members to over 400. Her hands-on training of voting rights activists has fueled the League’s progress, equipping the next generation of League leadership with the tools needed to defend our democracy.
“Joining the League allows you to amplify your voice. You can always write letters or protest, but the difference in being a member is that the League knows how to work the legislative process. By getting involved with the League, you can tackle these issues head-on.”
Getting money out of politics was what first drew Anna to the League of Women Voters. Eager to join an organization built on grassroots advocacy, they quickly got to work fighting to protect the Maine Clean Elections Act.
Anna is an organizer at heart. Now, as executive director of LWV of Maine, they focus on building an activist network by fostering individual volunteers to build power together.
As a nonbinary person, Anna shares their experience in order to invite fellow League members to think more complexly about gender. For them, it’s about making sure we expand the safe and welcoming space the League has created for women to gender minorities.
With an unwavering dedication to expanding and defending democracy, Anna leads with a clear vision for activating the League’s volunteer network and harnessing their power for real change.
“We must raise the voices of those who have the hardest time participating in the system, and advocate for the underlying structural changes that will make their voices more powerful.”
Ashley never imagined that her casual interest in redistricting would turn into an appointment on the Maryland Governor’s redistricting commission and a speech in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
But that’s exactly what happened. What started as an interest became a meaningful career with the League of Women Voters of Maryland, and Ashley’s work has made massive strides toward creating a more fair, representative government in her state.
Ashley sees firsthand the impact that voting rights has on important issues like education and healthcare. In her advocacy for fair districts with LWV Maryland, she impresses on voters that the issues they care about can’t move forward until elections are truly fair for all.
“If you want to do what’s right and what’s fair, redistricting reform is essential.”
Dee’s desire to be a part of an organization that makes a real difference in people’s lives led her to the League of Women Voters while she was still an active duty service member. Now, this Air Force veteran and college educator works tirelessly to motivate her students, neighbors—indeed anyone she meets—to register and vote.
Dee works directly in the communities she’s fighting for, partnering with local school systems, sororities, churches, and election offices to equip community members with the knowledge and tools they need to take advantage of their vote. To Dee, her most important work with the League centers on voter engagement and empowerment. She believes the best way to support underrepresented voters is to help them use their voice.
“When it comes to equal representation in government, it’s simple: you vote for the people who care about what you care about.”
Restoring Voting Rights
Jhody was advocating for former felon rights when she was invited to work with the League of Women Voters of Florida on their voting rights restoration campaign. In her work with the League to get a constitutional amendment for re-enfranchisement, Jhody utilized her personal story to lobby for voting rights restoration for formerly incarcerated people like her.
Jhody and her fellow League members achieved passage of Amendment 4 on Florida’s 2018 ballot, which restored voting rights for millions of Floridians. Now, she continues the work, advocating for people with criminal convictions so that their access to the ballot is not limited or diminished.
Through working with the League, Jhody has transitioned from a representative in the movement for re-enfranchisement to a strategic organizer for disenfranchised and marginalized communities.
“By sharing our stories, we can shift power, and we can exercise that power through voting.”
What's happening now
The U.S. Census is the process of counting every resident in the country every 10 years, as required under the U.S. Constitution. This Census, the League's focus continues to be on reaching hard-to-count communities and ensuring they get included in the Census count.Our Census work
Congressional and legislative districts should be apportioned according to population. Partisan and racial gerrymandering strips voters of their right to fair representation. The League promotes transparent and accountable redistricting processes.Our redistricting work
VOTE411.org is a "one-stop-shop" for election related information. This innovative voter resource provides nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information. Register to vote, find candidate information, and much more.VOTE411.org