The Pine - March 2020

The Official Publication of AAUW MN

From Our President

A Message from Jan Carey, our VP Public Policy
Public Policy Action Proposals for Branches
  • Every Voice, Every Vote

  • Our Work to Ensure Women’s Financial Futures

  • ERA Call to Action

  • AAUW Elevator Speech

  • Set up a two-minute activist session

  • Letters and Op-eds

  • Lights, Cameras, Action

  • Social Media is Your Friend

  • How to work with the media

  • Elected Officials and you

  • AAUW Minneapolis Branch at the Capitol (before COVID 19)

  • Share your branch public policy activities

From Our President

Dear Members --

Minnesota AAUW Branches are actively involved in a variety of public policy work throughout the State. I’m proud of the work our Branches do in this area. It’s unfortunate that we were unable to carry out a Legislative Day at the State Capitol this spring, after all the hard work that was put into organizing an AAUW effort to do this.

On behalf of the AAUW MN Board, I’d like to thank the key AAUW Members involved in planning for this important day with State Legislators: Jan Carey, Hibbing; Mary Haltvick, Minneapolis; Caroline Owens, Ely; and Hilary Beste, Minneapolis. And, thank you to all who participated in trying to make an impact at the Capitol.

This issue of the Pine is dedicated to the work that was accomplished while planning for an AAUW Legislative Day. Thank you to all the contributors to this important information.

Lisa West

AAUW MN President

The Public Policy Issue

Yes, there is a remedy for COVID-19. It is MDC - maintain as much normalcy as possible/develop creative communication methods/continue advocacy and action.

Simple? Probably not. But in this update, I will provide some ideas for you to explore in this difficult and stressful time of uncertainty. As I do so, I wish each of you, your family and friends good health and wellness.

Lisa West, AAUW MN president, has communicated the cancellation of AAUW MN Legislative Day, April 15, 2020. But our advocacy need not be canceled. The March issue of THE PINE is dedicated to Public Policy. The issue contains training guides, how-to’s for meeting with Legislators and the media, links to AAUW National resources & examples of advocacy around the country.

Here are some additional ways you can continue to express and promote the ideals and mission of AAUW to your local, state and national political leaders and community leaders.

Jan Carey, AAUW MN VP Public Policy

AAUW-MN Public Policy Proposals for Branches

Every Voice, Every Vote

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act — two critical milestones in ensuring women’s right to vote. It’s an important time to remember that many individuals, particularly people of color, still face voting suppression. This year, AAUW will strongly advocate for policies that expand and protect people’s voting rights. We encourage branches to integrate this priority into their work too. For example, the AAUW Boise Area Branch has an ongoing voter registration project called What The Vote!, which is targeted to high school and college students. The project’s aims are to teach students how to research candidates and register those of voting age. Since the project's inception in 2018, the branch has registered 5,084 students. Voter registration activities are easy to develop and implement. Let’s be on the front lines with this activity.

Our Work to Ensure Women’s Financial Futures

As part of our 2020 Gender Policy Agenda, AAUW is pushing for policies that will protect women and their families, including paid leave, access to high-quality health care and stronger Social Security benefits. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, those priorities are even more urgent. That’s why we’re partnering with other organizations to advocate for paid sick leave for public health emergencies. It’s critical for women to be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones without worrying about a lost paycheck or retaliation from their boss. Consider developing a Pay Equity Plan similar to the one used by the Ely Branch.


By Caroline Owens

Public Policy Chair, Ely Branch

Delegates to the AAUW Minnesota state convention passed a resolution stating that AAUW branches throughout Minnesota “will actively support and advocate for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment within Minnesota and nationally.”

The Ely Branch has developed an Era Call to Action Plan, to assist branches in carrying out the commitment we made last April in Grand Rapids. The Ely Branch has sent a detailed plan covering March through June, along with suggested actions and resources, to each branch in the state. Women and advocates for women can make a real difference when we all join together for equality.

  • All AAUW members in Minnesota are advocating to extend the deadline for adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The extension has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, but this bill has not been heard in the U.S. Senate.
  • All AAUW members in Minnesota are advocating for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. “Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender.” A bill in support of an Equal Rights Amendment passed in the Minnesota House of Representative last session. If a similar bill passes in the Minnesota Senate, the voters will have a chance to decide. It will be placed on the ballot in November.
  • An Equal Rights Amendment to both the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution is crucial to achieving equality. It would clarify that sex discrimination is a violation of women’s constitutional rights. Without the protection of the ERA, hard-won legislative and court victories against sex discrimination are not permanent. They can be rolled back or not enforced. The Equal Rights Amendment would place the burden of proof on those who discriminate, and not on those fighting for equality.

The ERA Call to action Plan for March encourages each AAUW member in Minnesota to write letters in support of an Equal Rights Amendment.

  • Write a letter to your Minnesota Senator
  • Write a letter to each of your US Senators

Excellent information can be found on


At your next branch meeting (whenever that may be), set aside time for a Two-minute Activist session. It can be done manually or electronically. If your branch is able to meet where there is adequate WIFI/Internet connectivity, members can complete a two-minute activist session very quickly.

As a substitute to a group session, individuals can easily be an activist by following the process outlined on the AAUW Website.


As a participant in Legislative Day, you will most likely arrive with an issue you are prepared to advocate.

However, you and your branch members may have decided against a single issue to address with your Legislator. If this is the case, you will certainly want an ‘elevator speech’ to introduce yourself, who & what you are representing and why. An ‘elevator speech’ will hopefully open a dialogue with the Legislator. He/she may not have any knowledge of AAUW. So how do you begin?

What is an ‘elevator speech’?

An elevator speech is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does. Elevator speeches should be interesting, memorable, and succinct. They also need to explain why and what makes your organization unique. Remind Legislators AAUW MN is a politically active and respected organization with 28 branches in cities across Minnesota. Its members and affiliate organizations represent over 4000 women and men who advocate the mission of AAUW.

Six Simple Steps

Below are 6 simple steps to use when developing your own speech. Once you’re done, you’ll have a personalized tool for your meeting with your Legislator!

  1. Write down four things about AAUW that you want to share. What makes AAUW memorable to you? What projects or issues is AAUW championing that are important to you?
  2. Pick the three most important points you wrote down. Why are they the most important points? Condense your answer to this question into two or three sentences.
  3. Add your full name and where you’re from before these two or three sentences to serve as your introduction and opening remarks.
  4. Make sure to also make an “ask” at the end. Every elevator speech should conclude with a question that needs a definitive answer, whether it’s “Would you support the ideals of our organization?” or “Will you support or develop legislation that addresses AAUW ideals?” Or “Can AAUW expect your support on issues relevant to the Public Policy Priorities of AAUW?”
  5. Write out your AAUW elevator speech.
  6. Try your elevator speech with a fellow member or friend. Each of you should share what really inspires you and what could be better. Keep practicing until you are comfortable and CONFIDENT!

Before you leave the Legislators office, be certain you deliver a folder of information which includes: an AAUW Public Policy Priorities brochure, your name, address, phone number (business card if you have one), an AAUW button, a copy of a pertinent AAUW National Research study (copies of a bibliography of AAUW Research papers will be in your packet April 15th), and finally, a souvenir that represents your city or region (optional).

Go to the article, “Meeting with Elected Officials: step-by-step training”, for specific assistance.

Here is an example of the dos and don’ts of an elevator speech. The example is for the promotion of a non-profit organization. However, there are useful points that can be applied to AAUW in this video.


In addition to a Two-Minute Activist or as a substitute to that process, writing a letter to the editor (LTE) or an op-ed is a great way to energize branch members, promote AAUW visibility in the community, and spread the word about important issues. These media outreach tools can be used to correct and clarify facts in a previous news story, oppose or support the actions of an elected official or agency, direct attention to a problem, spur news editors to cover an issue that is being overlooked or urge readers to support your cause. Letters to the editor and op-eds are especially effective in local community papers. For additional information go to

Here is an example for Equal Pay -

April 4 is the day we “celebrate” when the typical woman working full time in the United States catches up to what a white man was paid the previous year. That’s right, making 80 cents to a man’s dollar means women must work three extra months! The pay gap is even worse for most women of color who have to work even longer for their salaries to catch up.

As a member of the American Association of University Women, I have worked tirelessly to urge legislative action to close the gender pay gap once and for all. But we need additional legislation to give employers and employees the tools to prevent wage discrimination in the first place — and we’ve been waiting too long for that.

In [state], women face a pay gap of [insert amount] cents, which translates into less money for feeding families, paying off student loans, and saving for retirement. Passing a federal law like the Paycheck Fairness Act would help protect everyone in all states. But until that happens, each state will continue operating under antiquated regulations and piecemeal state and local laws to combat unequal pay. As we wait for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, [state] AAUW members, including myself, will continue to urge the state legislature to make improvements to [state] equal pay laws so that fair pay is an accessible reality for everyone. I encourage all [what state residents are called, e.g., Washingtonians] to join us and demand equal pay now!


I have often touted the use of community-driven Public Access TV. Public Access TV allows individuals or organizations to submit pre-recorded information or live interviews.

Every city, that provides a cable network provider, collects a franchise fee and it is used to air free Public Access Television programming. In Hibbing, it is HPAT – Hibbing Public Access Television. HPAT has three stations: government, education, and community. HPAT has a large, captive audience that watches and learns much of what is happening in the community. AAUW Hibbing branch members have been interviewed to advertise its annual book sale and other special activities.

Look into this in your city. Develop a specific program or a panel discussion on a public policy issue or concern. And, be ready to say, “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille!”

For additional resources go to -


Social media can have tremendous rewards for your state and branch if you’re creative and persistent. It can help you raise your branch’s visibility, recruit new members and donors, and influence important community stakeholders. Common platforms for advocacy include Facebook and Twitter, but other tools like Instagram are unveiled every week. Talk to others about what they’re doing, and see how your efforts can fit into or shape what’s already happening. Create a social media strategy that will launch your branch or state even further into the conversation about women and girl’s empowerment. Social media is a conversation, not a monologue.

Create Social Media Strategy using FB, Twitter and follow the steps and process at:

How to Work with the Media

Working with the media provides a rewarding and cost-effective tool for promoting AAUW’s policy priorities and events. Your efforts can lead to new members, access to key stakeholders and decision makers, and increased visibility in your community. Communication chairs, public policy leaders, and programming leaders can use the media to publicize newsworthy stories about your mission-based programs and events that are relevant to your local community and even a national audience. Read on to learn how to build relationships with reporters and earn media coverage for your events.


1. Compile a media contact list.

Identify the appropriate reporters, editors, producers, news directors, and departments in your local newspapers and broadcast stations that focus on AAUW priority issues and are likely to be interested in AAUW’s news. Editors (bureau chief, news/executive/associate/deputy editor, or editorial page editor) assign the stories and can be the pivotal voice on whether your topics get covered! Also include photo editors on your list for events that could yield good photos. Have a few general lists that you can use at a second’s notice, so you don’t have to remake them every time you plan media outreach. AAUW public policy staff can pull a basic list to help you get started.

  • Identifying contacts. Check on newspaper websites to see who has written on your initial topic most recently. Call the media outlet and ask for the name and contact information of the reporters responsible for covering the topic you’re wanting to pitch on. When putting together a list or thinking of contacts, keep in mind the following reporter beats (topics): women’s issues, family issues, economic/consumer affairs/business issues, education (K–12 and higher education), and politics (state government/legislature, local government, etc.).
  • Updating your list. Turnover can be high in the news business, and reporters covering the issues on your list may change frequently. Make calls quarterly to review and update your media list. Keep track of any returned e-mails you get when you send e-mails to certain reporters. This helps you to track who is interested, who is available, and who isn’t. It takes time, but it is worth it!

2. Set a time frame with clear goals.

Is your outreach on legislative action? Take into account session terms. Is outreach leading up to an event? Make sure your media strategy reflects the amount of time available and feasible.

3. Determine your key message.

What do you want the takeaway to be from the potential story about your issue or event? Make sure to factor in your intended audience in that message as well. Is it state legislators? Members of the community? This will also affect which reporters you reach out to and what your story pitch will be.

4. Tailor your pitch.

Knowing specifics about a reporter and outlet help you to tailor your initial pitch. Make sure you know key information about the reporter like beat (what she or he reports on), title, phone number, and e-mail Also keep in mind that a newspaper pitch and a radio/TV pitch should be entirely different. They have different goals and audiences, and your pitch should reflect that. Additionally, most news and radio shows have a Facebook and/or Twitter page, which you can also include to get to know more about what catches the reporter’s interest. Include the outlets, names, contact information, and web addresses on the media list, and use this sheet to guide and track your media outreach.

Contacting the Media

Once you have developed your media list and your message, use it wisely. Designate one branch member to be the news media spokesperson. Make the spokesperson available to the news media by placing her or his name and contact information on all media advisories and news releases. This person should also be involved in planning media outreach.

Develop a relationship with the media, instead of just asking them for coverage. Reach out before you need something, not only because you need something, and frame your outreach as, “How can we work together?”

Flooding reporters with calls and e-mails on anything and everything will decrease, rather than increase, your chances of being covered. Providing new, timely, accurate information on AAUW issues and events helps you build relationships with reporters and can lead them to view you as a reliable resource on issues important to women and families.

Use these two main tools to communicate messages to the media:

  • Media advisory. Media advisories alert the media to an upcoming event. Media advisories should be sent three to five days in advance of the activity highlighted. The best time to send your advisory is in the morning when news teams are meeting to plan out the day’s stories. Advisories should be no more than one page in length, and they should include only the vital details of your event (also known as the five W’s): who, what, when, where, why.
  • News release. News releases can be used to announce AAUW’s stand or action on an issue, to announce an AAUW event, to evaluate the work of public officials, to announce the appointment or election of a new leader, or to call for the passage or defeat of legislation. They include more information than advisories and should also include direct quotes from a representative of your branch.

Elected Officials and YOU: step-by-step training

Every elected official wants to hear from constituents. They want to know the opinions of constituents to bills and regulations being debated. AAUW National has established itself in Washington DC and advocates daily on behalf of women and girls. But we can participate at the local, regional and state levels to bring awareness to the mission of AAUW and the positions we take on numerous policy issues.

City & County Councils pass regulations that may impact women and girls. It is our reasonability to advocate for women and girls even at the local and regional level.

To prepare for AAUW-MN Legislative Day, AAUW National has published an outline on how to hold a meeting with elected officials. Continue reading, or for additional information and resources, go to the AAUW website.

How to Hold a Meeting with Your Elected Officials

Connecting with your elected officials about AAUW issues in a face-to-face meeting is a great way to develop a relationship and influence the positions they take on issues important to you. Below are some helpful tips to prepare for your visit.

Requesting the Visit

  • Locate the scheduler’s e-mail address on the legislator’s website or by calling the district office. Make your request in writing by sending an e-mail to the scheduler, and follow up with a call. Make sure the scheduler knows that you are a constituent.
  • The most effective and efficient way of securing an appointment is to be specific about the purpose of the meeting — which issue you want to discuss, a bill number if you are meeting about legislation, and that you are an AAUW member.

Preparing for the Visit

  • Who will attend the meeting? You can meet alone with the official or bring a group of AAUW members or a coalition of people who represent other interested groups. Consider bringing people who represent the constituencies that are affected by the issue you are discussing.
  • Do your research. Learn about your elected officials’ voting record and statements on AAUW issues. Become familiar with the views and arguments on both sides of the issue. Arm yourself with research, polling data, news clips, and op-eds to support your position.
  • Have talking points. Make your position clear and keep the meeting focused.
  • Make a clear ask. Are you asking for the legislator to vote for or against a bill? Co-sponsor a measure? Sign a pledge? If your meeting consists of a group of AAUW members, decide beforehand who will present the talking points and who will make the ask.
  • Bring materials. Prepare materials to leave with the elected official or staff. AAUW Quick Facts, the Public Policy Priorities brochure, and research reports are good examples.
  • Alert the media. If you recruit a large group of people, local media might be interested in covering your visit.

Tips and Tricks

  • One of the best times to plan for an in-district meeting is during a Senate or House recess. This time is designated for legislators to meet with their constituents in their home states or districts. They call these recesses “district work weeks” for a reason!
  • Take pictures outside of the office or during the meeting with the elected official if allowed. You can share the pictures on social media and send them to us at
  • Personalize your comments and provide local context — elected officials often prioritize issues that directly affect their constituents. Personal stories and local examples help illustrate why your issue is important.
  • The legislator’s response won’t always be clear, so listen carefully. What is the person saying about the issue? What questions or concerns do they have that might be answered? Pay attention to the direct and indirect statements of support or opposition.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question your legislator asks, say you’ll find out and then follow up. Contact our national office to assist with answering these questions.

After the Visit

  • Right after the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group to confirm what the elected official committed to do.
  • Send a personal thank-you letter to your elected official. Remind the official of anything he or she may have agreed to do.
  • Follow up in a timely fashion with any requested materials and information.

Just Dropping By?

Follow these tips to make the most of a shorter visit:

  • You’ll still want to research the official’s position on the issue and prepare your talking points, your ask, and materials to leave behind with someone.
  • After entering the office, identify yourself to the front desk as an AAUW member and constituent.
  • Ask to speak with a staff member who handles the issue you want to discuss. If that person is unavailable, ask if there is someone else you can meet with to speak about the issue. Be flexible, as local legislative offices are usually short-staffed.
  • Leave a copy of your materials with the staff member. If no one is available to speak with you, leave a note, your contact information, and the materials you brought.

AAUW-Minneapolis Branch at the Capitol (written prior to COVID-19 Shelter in place)

By Mary Haltvik

Public Policy Chair, Minneapolis Branch

The AAUW is about empowering women. Advocacy at all levels of government is one of our tools. The word “advocacy” means to add one’s voice to a cause. On April 15, members of the Minneapolis Branch of AAUW will be joining other branches at the state Capitol to add our voices to the cause of advancing equity for women and girls.

The conversations our members hope to have with legislators on April 15 will be guided by AAUW public policy priorities – economic security for all women, a fair and equitable education system, and civil rights. Our conversations will be informed and inspired by what we have heard from speakers we have invited to branch meetings during our 2019-20 program year. We have learned a lot about issues that are hugely important for women and girls in Minnesota: missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Minnesota, pay inequity, racial disparities in education and criminal justice, the health needs of girls and young women, building the next generation of women leaders through sports, financial best practices for women, the Equal Rights Amendment. These are just a few of the topics Minneapolis members have learned about over the last six months.

When we go to the Capitol, we want lawmakers to know what AAUW stands for, what its mission is and what it has accomplished in its 140 years. We know that many of our lawmakers already support the work of the AAUW but we never take that support for granted. On April 15 we will be ready to thank legislators for their support but we want to go one step further by asking them to make sure that AAUW priorities are at the top of their list of priorities as well because when we improve the lives of women and girls, all Minnesotans benefit. See you at the Capitol!

Together - Moving Forward to AAUW

Please share any actions, activities or initiatives your branch develops. Send to