November 2012 e-Newsletter

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Board Spotlight: Lisa Mizrahi Kaado

Q: You currently serve as the VP of Education and Training for the NWPC- What led you to this path, what have been the highlights of your term thus far and what do you look forward to as you take on this next year?

A: I have always had a rather highly developed sense of social justice, which is somewhat surprising given that I grew up in an immigrant family in sheltered middle class suburbia; I had a peripheral awareness of the activism that was engulfing the nation in the 60s and 70s, but we never talked about politics or social issues at home or in our social circles. I knew things weren’t right and I found it very disturbing, but didn’t quite understand that I could actually do something about it.

My parents, who had had limited schooling themselves, believed strongly in the value of education…for boys. It was not important for the girls. So, though always a bit unconventional, I followed the traditional route, getting married and having my first child by the age of 22 and expecting the happily ever after to duly materialize. Within a few years, I was a divorced mom of two boys and had no education or professional credentials. I became the classic stereotype of gender inequality; left with all the responsibilities and none of the assets.

In my mid-30s, I took the plunge into academia. I became the first female in my family to go to college. For the next 6 years, I was student, mother, and single head of household. I was the proverbial teabag in hot water. Strong was the only option.

Attending Douglass College, the woman’s college at Rutgers University, was life altering for me. It’s not that I had not had strong women in my life before- my own mother had been widowed at a young age with three children and ran her own business-but at Douglass I was able to see that all the positions of power and authority were held by women, and that there was a strong commitment to building future leaders. Douglass is the antithesis to the classic scenario of women pitted against one another. Douglass creates an environment that fosters sisterhood and a true sense of mutual obligation to help each other advance, benefiting from the efforts of those who came before us and committing ourselves to setting the stage for the success of those who will come after us.

Through Douglass, I found what seems to have become a permanent home in the New Jersey chapter of NWPC, whose leadership and membership boasts an impressive number of Douglass alumnae. I started a student chapter on campus, reactivated my county chapter, and served on the State Board for decade before I became Executive Director. During my tenure as President of the State Board, I became engaged with the National Board of NWPC, and it seemed a natural progression to run on the “Super Slate” with a dynamic team of phenomenal women.

If I had to make a list of first year highlights, among the top entries would be meeting intelligent and dedicated women from all fields from across the country, working together to build meaningful relationships, and rededicating ourselves to the commitment we have to each other and to our common cause of achieving equality for all women. Of course, a woman’s work is never done and we cannot rest on past accomplishments. We must continue to raise the bar ever higher and use our collective experiences to help each other clear the highest rungs.

Q: What are your plans for developing training materials and workshops as tools for NWPC’s members?

A: We must adapt to changing conditions, so one of my priorities is to update our current campaign training materials to be reflective of today’s campaign requirements and the needs of today’s women. The benefits of this are two-fold. First, a clear set of guidelines helps to demystify the process and encourage more women to run for office. Second, providing appropriate, effective training makes for stronger candidates who win more races.

I want to find ways to engage ALL women in political activity, whether it be running for office, advocating for an issue, campaigning for another women or learning how the system works and how they can work for a cause they care about whether on the local or national scale. Civic education is critical and we do not do a good job of civic education in this country but I would like to be able to help fill a little bit of that gap.

In New Jersey, I developed a program called “Why Not Me, Why Not Now,” which puts together a panel of elected women from all backgrounds and levels of elected office. The idea is that you can’t be what you can’t see, so we want every woman in the audience to see someone who looks like her in a position of power. Other programs in the series include sessions on running for boards and commissions, networking, using social media, campaign media training, fundraising, grassroots organizing, lobbying, branding, and other workshops created to meet specific needs. It is my hope that we will be able to sponsor training sessions coinciding with national board meetings, and then expand the programs across the country.

Q: What skills are you hoping to help develop during your training workshops? Why have you identified these as especially useful for women who want to become more politically involved?

A: Knowledge of how government and public policy work, and the confidence to enter the political arena and navigate the system to achieve whatever goals we set for ourselves. If you do not know how something works or how to make it work then you cannot begin to be effective. I want to demystify government and activism, and show women that every one of them has the power to affect and make real change.

Q: Tell me a little about yourself, what you like to do in your free time? What drives your passion?

A: My life offers very little in the way of free time because my life’s work is my passion so there is no clear delineation between work and fun. I am driven by an incredible sense of gratitude. I have been given so many opportunities and have been mentored and nurtured by so many phenomenal women and men. The best way that I can honor their generosity to is to pay it forward. I never say “no” because nobody ever said “no” to me.



Intern Spotlight: Miriam Edelman

Washingtonian Miriam Edelman has been NWPC’s Political Planning intern this semester. After graduating from Barnard College, Columbia University, with majors of political science and urban studies with a history concentration, she worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. Congress for several years. On Capitol Hill, she worked/interned for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and in personal offices and in committees, most notably for the premiere U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. This past May, she earned a Masters of Public Administration degree from Cornell University, where she concentrated in social policy. In addition, for her strong academic record, she was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, which is the national honor society for public affairs and administration.

During the fall of 2012, Miriam has been an asset to the NWPC. She tracked NWPC’s pivotal Congressional races that helped determine which political party controlled each chamber of Congress, especially the U.S. Senate. She correctly predicted the winners of all the races she tracked. Just like Nate Silver, she correctly predicted the winners of all but two of the U.S. Senate races of 2012. She drafted four blog posts about the 2012 elections, drafted parts of NWPC newsletters, researched current news articles every day, helped with the NWPC political process, aided in updating the website, developed organizational materials of the NWPC, and performed other work. She hopes to continue her career in politics and public policy, especially in Congressional-related matter.

In her spare time, Miriam enjoys taking part in the local community. She volunteers at community events and festivals. An award-winning photographer, she likes to take photographs around the world and develop calendars, note-cards, and other merchandise featuring her work. She also develops trivia questions, especially those about U.S. politics, for community-wide events. Formerly a member of multiple choirs and music groups, Miriam enjoys singing.

Dear NWPC Members and Friends,

As we enter the holiday season for 2012, we have so much to be thankful for, and particularly for the increases we saw for women in public office. We watched with anticipation when we heard in early fall 2011 the prediction that 2012 would be another Year of the Woman, and indeed, it really was!

We participated with American Association of University Women’s The Power of ONE Vote program, including setting up voter registration efforts in coalitions with sister organizations on college campuses, then managing contact and reminder messaging to those registered to get out and vote for the November 6 election. NWPC also worked to turn out votes through our membership, and saw results in turnout this election. The significance of women voters made the difference in selection of national officials, and as an organization, NWPC worked to review candidates’ qualifications, made over 80 endorsements, provided financial contributions to a significant number of them, and saw more than 45 of our endorsed candidates elected (or re-elected) to office.

The NWPC Foundation is growing, and we want to thank those who pledged $2000 to become a Founder of the new Foundation, and also to Rosemary Smithson, Co-President, Judy Shepherd, Co-President, and Rebecca Richardson, Treasurer. Watch for news from the Foundation soon, as they develop their webpage and brochures, so you can share with others in your contact list. The Foundation is planned for future grant opportunities for NWPC, with potential for grants to be awarded to state or local Caucuses for 501c3 purpose projects.

For NWPC LDERF, do consider your Year End gift, or recruit friends who may want to have a tax deduction for 2012, and give online or send a check to NWPC.

We wish all of you and yours happy and safe holidays.

In Sisterhood,

Linda Young,

President, NWPC


2012 Exceptional Merit in Media Awards (EMMAs) in NYC!

The 2012 Exceptional Merit in Media Awards (EMMAs) event was held on Thursday, October 4th at Hunter College in New York City. Ten EMMAs and a special President’s Award were presented by Oscar and Tony Award-winner Ellen Burstyn. The awards were opened by EMMA’s Emcee Joan Walsh, editor-at-large at Salon.com, and EMMA’s Chair Irene Natividad, CEO GlobeWomen, Inc. and former NWPC President.

The ten awards were given to “Girls Like Us” by Rachel Lloyd, “Afghan Women Tolerate Beating for Cell Phones in Emerging Market” by Simon Clark (Bloomberg News), “How a Blogger Blocked Sex Slavery” Abigail Pesta (The Daily Beast), “Victoria’s Secret Revealed in Child Picking Burkina Faso Cotton” by Cam Simpson (Bloomberg News), “Preexisting Condition: Female” by Jenny Deam (Prevention Magazine), “Dishonorable Conduct” by Jan Goodwin (Good Housekeeping), “In Friendship We Trust” by Sheila Weller (Good Housekeeping), “The Secret That Kills 4 Women a Day” by Liz Brody (Glamour), “Stalking a Silent Killer” by Carole Zimmer (Bloomberg News), and “Necessary Roughness ‘Pilot’” by USA Network. Jennifer Newsom’s documentary “Miss Representation” won the 2012 President’s Award.

“This year’s EMMAs winners’ stories, blogs and books all focus on issues that impact the lives of women,” said Linda Young, NWPC President. “There is something we could all learn from each and every winner’s submission; we were also pleased to see such a broad representation of topics this year.”

For more information on the 2012 EMMAs winners visit: www.nwpc.org/EMMAwinners.

The EMMAs were first awarded in 1985 and created by a NWPC past-President Irene Natividad. Over the past 27 years, the EMMAs have been presented for outstanding coverage of issues of importance to women, often bringing to light issues that might otherwise be glossed over or omitted.



Historic 2012 Election Results

The National Women’s Political Caucus is pleased with the historic results of the 2012 elections! Our endorsed U.S. Senate winners include Senators-elect Tammy Baldwin (WI), Mazie Hirono (HI), and Elizabeth Warren (MA) and to returning U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (WA), Diane Feinstein (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), and Claire McCaskill (WI). In addition, 38 of our endorsed U.S. House candidates won, and all three of our state candidates won.

NWPC’s candidates helped contribute to large gains by women. In the next Congress, there will be a record number of 20 females in the U.S. Senate. Three NWPC-endorsed candidates will be part of the nation’s first all-female Congressional delegation, as well as a female Governor in New Hampshire. Mazie Hirono, Elizabeth Warren, and Tammy Baldwin are all the first female U.S. Senators elected in their states. In addition, Japan-born Mazie Hirono will become the first Asian-American female U.S. Senator, the first Buddhist U.S. Senator, and the first Asian immigrant U.S. Senator. Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly-homosexual U.S. Senator.

Historic gains were also made in the House, which will see a record 78 women in office as of 2013. Tulsi Gabbard will be the first Hindu Member of the U.S. Congress. Grace Meng will be the first Asian-American Member of Congress from New York State. War hero Tammy Duckworth will be the first female double-amputee Member of Congress. Kyrsten Sinema will be the first bisexual Member of Congress. For more information on the 2012 election cycle, visit NWPC’s elections blog at www.nwpcelectionwatch.blogspot.com.


Legislative Update: Lame Duck Congress Preview


The Fiscal Cliff

The current tax rates, under the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, and spending cuts, under the Budget Control Act of 2011, are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012. The increase in tax rates and decrease in spending is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2013 and has been coined by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as the “fiscal cliff.” If action is not taken by Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, economists warn that the United States is likely to enter a state of recession for at least the first half of FY2013. On the other hand, if the tax cuts and budget spending remain stagnant there will be a great increase in the federal deficit. Another result will be the sequester, which is set to take effect on January 2nd. This less publicized consequence is in an across-the-board $1.2 trillion spending cut to government programs over a 10 year period.

President Barack Obama would like to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all but the top two percent of Americans, but Republican U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly opposed any tax increases. The President has vowed to veto any bill extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. More recently, some liberals have been voicing support of going over the fiscal cliff and allowing all taxes to increase rather than risk extending the tax cuts for the top bracket of U.S. wage earners. The fiscal cliff is likely to be the most contentious piece of legislation for the Lame Duck Congress.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expired 679 days ago and the Congress has been deadlocked on reauthorization of this landmark law for over 190 days. First enacted in 1994, VAWA has resulted in stronger federal penalties for sex violators, elimination of fees to victims for rape exams, and more local family violence law-enforcement divisions. Although VAWA is historically a bill that Democrats and Republicans support with incredible bipartisan cooperation, the Senate and House could not reach a consensus earlier this year. The discord between the Senate and House bills arose due to the Senate version’s broadening in scope, aiming to include the LGBT community, Native Americans and immigrants. These minority populations are not guaranteed protection under the expired version of VAWA.

The watered-down House version excluded the three underrepresented populations. Neither the Senate nor the House version of VAWA has had the companion bill voted on by the corresponding Congressional chamber. After the 2012 election results showed the Republican Party to be out of touch with women, the LGBT community and immigrants, many members of the party are encouraging Congress to reconsider the Senate version of VAWA. Women’s advocates almost exclusively recognize this version, as it provides protection for populations who are truly at risk and do not receive adequate protection.

U.S. Embassy of Libya Attack and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice

The U.S. Embassy of Libya was attacked on September 11, 2012, killing the U.S. Ambassador and 3 other Americans. Following the attack, confusion over the cause spurred speculation that it was the result of a protest to an anti-Muslim film released in the U.S. Since then, intelligence gained information that points to a pre-meditated terrorist attack coinciding with the timing of the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in NYC.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that she will not seek a second term in her position at the State Department. One of the most loudly rumored names for the nomination to fill the position is current U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. Criticism; however, is being thrown her way as she mistakenly credited the attacks on the Benghazi embassy as a result of the anti-Muslim film. Leading the opposition are Senators McCain and Graham, who feel that her mistake is proof that she is not fit for the job. Although President Obama defends Ambassador Rice’s reputation it remains unclear whether the Benghazi scandal will impede her successful nomination.



OUT AND ABOUT

NWPC-Massachusetts

The Massachusetts’s Women’s Political Caucus held its 2012 Tribute to Abigail Adams on October 10, 2012 in Boston. These awards were created to recognize six Massachusetts women leaders who show an outstanding commitment to the realization of equal political, economic and social rights for women. 2012 Honorees included Marge Schiller, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Dianne Luby, Rosalin Acosta, Jennifer Nassour, and Deborah C. Enos. www.mwpc.org/events/abigail-about.php

NWPC-Missouri

The Missouri State Women’s Political Caucus is set to hold its Membership Meeting and Board Vote at 6:00 p.m. on December 14, 2012 at the Simpson House. Following the meeting, the Missouri Caucus will hold its annual Holiday Party at 7:00 p.m. that evening, also at the Simpson House. www.mowpc.org

NWPC-New Jersey

Due to the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey is postponing its 2012 Passion Power Progress Awards in New Brunswick on January 22, 2013. This year’s awardees include the Hon. Nia Gill, Susan A Feeney, the Hon. Joseph Cryan, Christopher Daggett, Saki Dodelson and the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College. All proceeds will go to support the training and education for women in political office! www.wpcnj.org/2012p3promo.html

NWPC-Ohio

The Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus held its Election Post-Mortem with Guest Speaker Howard Wilkinson, former columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer and current political analyst for WVXU on November 19, 2012. On January 22, 2013, this Caucus will hold a party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and also to honor its endorsed candidates. www.cincinnatiwomenspoliticalcaucus.org

NWPC-South Dakota

The South Dakota’s Women’s Political Caucus held its 2012 Fall Social on November 8th at Casey Muschel’s home and was a great success! The South Dakota’s Women’s Political Caucus also has an upcoming General Meeting at 10 am on December 8th at the Downtown Library. www.nwpcsd.org.

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