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WOMAN OF COURAGE LUNCHEON
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with a focus on the poor and forgotten people of Arizona.
The October 3rd meeting will be the annual elections for the following positions.
Titles and Duties of Officers of Tucson NOW
A. Chapter Coordinator ( 1 year term) - official spokesperson and chief executive officer
B. Finance Coordinator (1 year term) - receive all funds of the chapter, disperse funds, keep financial records and make financial reports.
C-1. Records Coordinator ( 6 month term) - take and maintain minutes of the chapter.
C-2. Membership Coordinator ( 6 month term) - recruit new NOW members, encourage renewals and contact new members.
C-3. Publicity Coordinator ( 6 month term) - inform the community about NOW meetings and activities.
C-4. Legislative Coordinator ( 6 month term) - be the chapter liaison wtith the State Legislative Coordinator.
C-5. Arizona NOW Board Rep - Attend Arizona NOW meetings and report on the activities of Tucson NOW and report to Tucson NOW about the Arizona NOW meetings.
C-6. Meetings Coordinator ( 6 month term) - arrange facilities for chapter meetings and prepare the agenda.
Below the Belt: A Column by NOW President Kim Gandy
July 20, 2009
Today is my final day as NOW president. After 36 years as a NOW activist and leader, the past eight years as president, it is quite a challenge to write my final Below the Belt column. The experiences I've had could fill a book, and someday I just might write one. For now, I have this column, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to share with you just a small taste of the incredible experiences I've had leading this extraordinary organization.
At my going away lunch, NOW's press secretary (she's a former reporter and likes to "interview" us) asked me to identify the most memorable moment from my presidency. Of all the things we've done together, my answer came as something of a surprise to those at the table, as it might to you, too. But as long as I live, I swear I'll never forget that moment and the feeling in the pit of my stomach that was a mix of excitement and dread.
The setting was the opening session of the 2005 National NOW Conference, which was taking place in Nashville, Tenn., that year. It was a NOW election conference, and I was running for a second term as president. George W. Bush had taken office for his second term earlier that year, so we already had plenty to do and discuss that weekend.
And then, as I stood at the podium that Friday morning, going through the rather dry process of adopting the conference rules and the agenda, our then-Political Director Linda Berg ran to the stage and reached up to hand me a manila file folder. Scrawled on the outside, it said, "O'Connor just resigned."
"Oh, sh*t," I reacted in horror, and then quickly realized I had been too close to the microphone for that to have been a private exclamation. It had been rumored for years that O'Connor was going to retire "any day," and that it might happen during a low-profile news time, like during the December holidays. And as someone who likes to be prepared, I made sure we never left the NOW office for the holidays without exchanging cell phone numbers and making sure that at least one person who could post alerts on the web and send mass emails would be standing by on any given day. But no rumors had surfaced prior to O'Connor's July announcement.
My mind was reeling. The possibility had become real: George Bush was going to have the opportunity, the privilege, of replacing the first woman on the Supreme Court -- a justice who was frequently described as the court's swing vote, but who reliably voted on the side of women's rights when push came to shove.
I'll just say it: We kicked butt the rest of the weekend! We rearranged the conference schedule wherever possible to make room for action and reaction. We organized an impromptu press conference at the hotel less than two hours after the announcement, and dozens of TV cameras and other news outlets showed up. It wasn't your typical press conference, that's for sure. People were shouting and waving signs they had just made out in the hallway minutes before; prominent feminists who were on hand as invited conference speakers got the chance to deliver impassioned speeches. The next day we followed up with a march in downtown Nashville and a lively rally on the State Capitol steps.
Two months later we learned of Chief Justice William Rehnquist's passing. Now Bush had two spots to fill on the high court. The campaigns that followed to keep current Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito off the Supreme Court (though not ultimately successful) kept us non-stop busy for months. These memories will stay with me forever -- the bustling "Enraged and Engaged" campaign headquarters across the street from the Supreme Court, dozens of volunteers who traveled from far away with little notice to be part of "Freedom Winter," camping out on floors and sofas, so they could walk the Senate halls and hold signs...memories of how national leaders, staff, state and local leaders, activists, interns and volunteers can pull together and find an even higher gear than they thought possible.
What? I'm up next?
Which reminds me of the time that most people might think was my most memorable moment as NOW president. The funny thing is, I can hardly recall it myself. I'm talking about the thrill of speaking in front of a million-plus crowd on the National Mall at the 2004 March for Women's Lives. If you've seen the aerial photo of the sea of people stretching from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument, you might think I was a bit nervous. And maybe I was.
But rather it was another one of those unpredictable situations that you simply can't avoid if you want to be a leader in the social justice movement. As one of the lead organizers of the March, I can tell you we were all beyond exhausted that day. And for the rally that followed the historic march, we had drawn straws to determine the speaking order of the presidents of the seven lead organizing groups. I drew the final spot -- which meant I really needed to hear all the other speeches, so I would have a strong closing without repetition. I had prepared a number of different options for myself, so I could make sure to give the participants something fresh.
Because of the amazing turn-out, the march was running behind, and I was so busy working that I had missed all of the beginning speakers. The next thing I knew, I was being led up to the stage: "You're on!" they told me. With my then 11-year-old daughter Cady by my side I walked on to the stage, looked out at the amazing crowd, collected myself, and spoke from my heart. I concluded with words I had scribbled on a scrap of paper very early that morning about the hopes and dreams that we have for our daughters and our sons.
"That if we succeed, they will grow up in freedom -- in control of their lives and their destiny. They will decide whether and when to have children. They'll decide whether to marry, and they'll marry who they want to marry.
"We hope and dream that they'll grow up with clean air and clean water, a good education, full health care, freedom from bigotry and hatred and violence, and with equal access to the bounty of this country -- without taking it from the pockets of the rest of the world.
"And all this in a world at peace."
Pride and Prejudice
More recently, I had the pleasure of working for now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. When NOW's Political Action Committee voted to endorse Clinton for her party's nomination, I was honored to stand with her at the historic home of Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party to make our announcement in March 2007, Women's History Month. I went on to travel across the country in 2007 and 2008, speaking on Hillary's behalf, in 20 cities and six key states, most as an official surrogate for her campaign. We organized house parties and events, ran an Internet ad campaign, created a "Make History with Hillary" website for the NOW PAC, and launched the Media Hall of Shame to address the extraordinary sexism and prejudice directed at Hillary Clinton as a woman and as a candidate, later expanded to other candidates and issues.
Clinton's loss was indeed dispiriting. As chair of NOW PAC, I needed to balance that sense of loss with the hope of a progressive president versus the fear of another four years of regressive policies, as I communicated with NOW's members and leaders, spoke at events and did interviews with national media outlets. Once Hillary threw her support to Barack Obama and asked her supporters to do the same, I knew I had to put any lingering disappointment aside and get to work to help produce the best possible outcome for women's rights in the U.S. and around the world.
George Bush and Diane Sawyer
Because I took office in 2001 only six months after George W. Bush, it was initially frustrating to have to spend so much of my time (as it turns out, seven and a half years of my eight-year presidency) battling Bush's terrible policies, attempting to block the persistent assaults on women's rights and all civil rights. But as Eleanor Smeal, a former NOW president and current leader of the Feminist Majority Foundation, often reminded me, we have made so many gains for women over the past 40 years, that protecting those gains has to be our first priority. And so it was.
But being NOW president, even during the Bush years, did have many moments of triumph. For instance, in 2006, we were alerted by Laurie Pettine, then-chair of NOW's Mothers and Caregivers Economic Rights Committee, that Good Morning America was getting ready to air a pretty awful looking two-part segment on the so-called "Mommy Wars" -- a media-fueled effort to pit stay-at-home moms against mothers who work outside the home. The segment was just as bad, maybe worse, than the promos had let on.
NOW zipped off a letter to anchor Diane Sawyer and the show's executive producer, and we asked supporters to do the same. Over ten thousand messages flooded the station over the next two days, and the producer called personally. A few weeks later, Laurie and I were on the GMA set taping a new segment with a more productive discussion of the challenges facing moms as they attempt to juggle work and family.
I'm proud of NOW's accomplishments and our leadership in the feminist movement over the past eight years, when we have increased NOW's influence and media visibility -- including every major daily newspaper, every broadcast morning show, every broadcast nightly news show, and even the news-as-comedy "trifecta" of the Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher. According to research by the Communications Consortium Media Center, NOW had the highest news coverage of any women's rights organization, significantly more than the next closest group.
I'm also proud of our ability to maintain NOW's legacy of member-driven independence, without reliance on corporate or foundation funding, although it's been harder than usual during the global financial meltdown that has rocked non-profit fundraising for social justice groups. And even with the challenge that dues and donations are harder to come by in this climate of economic uncertainty, yes we've had to cut expenses, but we haven't cut key programs -- and of course we continue to need your help to weather the storm.
When I look back I think about how truly lucky I have been to lead this amazing organization. I got to work on fun projects, like rating the Super Bowl Commercials and taking on media blowhards like Rush Limbaugh, Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly. I had the joy of not only watching the swearing-in of Nancy Pelosi as the first woman Speaker of the House, but also stood outside that day with NOW staffers holding a mammoth card with thousands of messages of congratulations on breaking the marble ceiling. I've met some amazing women at out annual Intrepid Awards Gala and been able to thank them personally for their courageous acts. I marched on the frontline of the enormous peace march that filled the streets of New York City with hundreds of thousands of outraged women and men. I've attended numerous Roe v. Wade vigils outside the Supreme Court, always in the freezing cold, always the only place I could imagine being on that January day. The joy of being part of making real strides and great change for women is beyond description.
The sad memories will stay with me as well, like the NOW leaders and trailblazing feminists that we have lost during the last eight years, including: Betty Friedan, Molly Yard, Shirley Chisholm, Coretta Scott King, Del Martin, Patsy Mink, C. DeLores Tucker and Molly Ivins. And we must not forget the NOW women taken from us by violence -- women like Wanda Alston and Jana Mackey, who inspire us to never give up our work to end violence against women.
All of these women, and so many others, touched my life though my work at NOW. As I leave this post, I think most of all of the women I will never know, the millions who will be touched themselves by the work that NOW does to bring freedom, opportunity, empowerment and justice to their lives. For them, I will remain a lifetime NOW member and a vocal advocate for equality for all.
For those of you who have asked where I'll be headed next, the immediate answer is that I'm headed to the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government as a resident Fellow for the fall semester, which will give me time for learning, teaching, planning, thinking, and considering my next steps for social justice. And surprisingly, five of the six IOP Fellows are women -- I'm in good company with Leah Daughtry, Stephanie Cutter, Peggy Noonan and Gina Glantz.
It has been an honor to work with each and every one of you, even from afar, and I hope you'll drop me a line now and then and let me know what you are doing for women's rights. You can reach me at KimGandy813@gmail.com
In the last News and Action Summary we briefly introduced our incoming president, Terry O'Neill, who is a lawyer from New Orleans and a former NOW Vice President-Membership. In the next Summary, you'll learn more about the issues Terry and her team will be tackling!