The Pine - June 2019

The Official Publication of AAUW MN

  • A Message from our President
  • LAF Speaker, Dr. Zoe Spencer
  • Silent Auction Benefits the AAUW Economic Security Fund
  • AAUW Funds Awards Presented at State Convention
  • AAUW Minnesota Day
  • Scenes from the state convention
  • Public Policy Update
  • Public Policy printable version
  • Reflections from NCCWSL

A message from our president

Dear Members,

With 144 of you, I experienced my first AAUW MN State Convention as President. With the exception of starting the business meeting before I was supposed to, and wearing two different socks, it went pretty well. It’s a whole different perspective from in front of the room. But, as I do with many things in my life, I learn from my experiences, so I can do things differently next time!

This year’s Convention speakers were inspiring. I was so impressed by Dr. Kathy Annette and Dr. Zoe Spenser, and the challenges and achievements in their lives. And Karen Kirkwood, our AAUW National Board representative provided guidance and inspiration from AAUW National. It was another good Convention.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Deanna Ensley, Cyndy Agle and the members of the Grand Rapids Branch who made it a fantastic experience for all of us!

We haven’t confirmed a location for the 2020 State Convention. IS THERE A BRANCH OR CO-BRANCHES INTERESTED IN HOSTING THE 2020 CONVENTION?? PLEASE, PLEASE CONTACT ME, if your Branch is willing to host or co-host this important event.

And along those lines, since there is no AAUW National Convention planned for 2020, I’m in preliminary discussions, with several State AAUW Presidents, about a Midwest Regional Convention in 2020. A location in Illinois has been thrown on the table, with an early to mid-June date being discussed. Stay tuned and we’ll see where this goes!

I wish you all a wonderful, warm, safe, and happy summer!

May Quote: “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” ~ G.D. Anderson

LAF Speaker, Dr. Zoe Spencer

Dr. Zoe Spencer, an LAF-supported plaintiff, inspired us with the story of her quest for equity at Virginia State University (VSU). Dr. Z was charged by Virginia State with identifying deficits in gender equity, but when she did, she met with resistance. In 2014, two male administrators, who had previously been terminated, were appointed to faculty positions as associate professors with salaries that were higher than those of female professors at all ranks. Although they did not have PhDs or teaching experience, and taught a much lower number of students, their salaries were $35,000-49,500 higher than Z’s salary (a tenured, full professor, with a PhD). She requested a salary adjustment that was denied, and she subsequently faced retaliation.

Dr. Z originally filed her case in U.S. District Court of Virginia in April, 2017, and the case survived a motion to dismiss brought by VSU. In October, 2017, the University filed a motion for a summary judgement and the court granted that motion and dismissed her action. In April 2018, Spencer filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals.

BUT, Z is not giving up and her determination was inspiring. She is in the process of completing a writ of certiorari to submit to the Supreme Court so that they will hear her case for equal pay, for not awarding compensation based on previous salary for work that is not related, and for retaliation under Title IX.

Z acknowledged the vital role that LAF has played in her life and her case. The financial assistance is so critical, but of even more importance is the strength and support of AAUW women standing behind her. As she was flying home, Z wrote, “I came to Minnesota to build and share,” and that “all of the beautiful womyn that I received such love from send me on invigorated. You all made me feel so worth it!”

What else can you do?

Many individuals and branches wondered about doing some directed fund raising for Zoe’s battle. If you want to send her something, I have her mailing address, just email me at: When I asked her if I could give out her address, she said that was fine, but suggested “Prayers and energy before money,” so I think encouragement and emotional support would also be valuable if you want to write to her.

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Silent Auction Benefits AAUW Economic Security Fund

The Silent Auction at our State Convention in Grand Rapids raised $3698 for our AAUW Economic Security Fund, which includes LAF, Work Smart, and Start Smart. The Grand Rapids Branch’s idea of having a garden theme for the auction was a hit, with everything from plants and planters, through tools, gloves, and solar lights, to bird houses, books, and wine (hey, we need to relax and enjoy the garden, too, right?!?). There were 111 items from 22 branches, with an average value of over $30.00.

A huge thanks to the Grand Rapids’ local committee for organizing, to the branches for gathering together such wonderful items, and to ALL of you who bid on the delightful garden and patio treasures!

AAUW Funds Awards Presented at State Convention

Barbara Wonson Liukkonen


In 2108, Minnesota contributed $77,310.43 to our national AAUW Funds! We succeeded in completing our Minnesota Past Presidents American Fellowship to the stipend-producing level of $200,000. In future years it will be able to support a scholar pursuing an advanced degree. Congratulations to the visionaries who began this fellowship in 2008 and to all of YOU who contributed to achieve this goal in just ten years.

At our convention in Grand Rapids, we recognized branches for their 2018 contributions with certificates for the Top Ten in total giving and the Top Ten in per capita giving. Thanks to these branches for their hard work and successful fund-raising efforts!

Top Ten Total Gifts

  • St. Paul $ 17,877.13
  • Minneapolis 12,606.00
  • Owatonna 7,618.00
  • Moorhead/Fargo 5,102.00
  • Rochester 4,964.00
  • Duluth 3,722.00
  • Faribault 3,561.00
  • Hibbing 2,975.00
  • Red Wing 2,791.12
  • Ely 2,770.00

Top Ten Per Capita

  • Moorhead/Fargo $ 510.20
  • Owatonna 169.29
  • Faribault 72.67
  • Northeast Metro 68.33
  • Ely 65.95
  • Northfield 58.76
  • Hibbing 49.58
  • St Paul 47.80
  • Rochester 45.54
  • Duluth 38.77

In addition, we celebrated the Named Gift Honorees recognized by branches who contributed at least $750 to the MN Past Presidents Fellowship.

Branch Named Gift Honorees

  • Duluth - Lou Anne Siefert, Gay Trachsel
  • Faribault - Cyndy Harrison, Pauline Schreiber
  • Hibbing - Fran Gardeski
  • Metro West - Barbara Cohen
  • Minneapolis - Diane Boruff, Lois Demers, Sheryl Sostarich
  • Northfield - Carol James
  • Owatonna - Kris Dragich
  • Rochester - Lucy Bahn, Mary Jo Kelly, The Rochester Branch - Celebrating 100 Years

Thanks to all who contributed to, organized, or participated in funds-raisers in 2018. Your hard work, involvement, and monetary gifts make a huge difference in this organization that we care about so deeply.

AAUW Minnesota Day

Jan Carey submitted and received a proclamation from Governor Tim Walz declaring Saturday, April 27, 2019 AAUW Minnesota Day to celebrate the 90th Annual Minnesota AAUW convention.

A special thank you to our dedicated VP Public Policy, Jan Carey pictured here with AAUW MN President, Lisa West.

Scenes from the 2019 State Convention

AAUW Public Policy Update Highlights (as of May 7, 2019)

Jan Carey

AAUW MN VP Public Policy

A few issues came up during the AAUW-MN State Convention that need clarification. Also, a few individuals commented to me concerns in the areas of procedural practices, politics and legislation, civil rights, communication, and AAUW-MN public policy priorities.

Every branch public policy contact should share this update and its responses and answers for complete transparency.

Resolutions Process

The position of VP Public Policy, requires it to chair the Resolutions Committee. The AAUW-MN bylaws clearly define the procedure. [Article XVIII, Sec.4, f.] The procedure was followed. Once the procedure was completed, there was no method to verify if the information was disseminated to the members by branch public policy chairs/contacts.

  • In the future, the bylaws may need to include & clearly state methods of communication to disseminate information.
  • The bylaws could be amended to clearly state how the actions of the Resolutions Committee be communicated.
  • The bylaws could state that reviewed Resolutions will be sent to all AAUW MN members via email, AAUW-MN website and The Pine.
  • If needed U.S. Postal Service may be utilized.

Resolutions: post passage

Two resolutions passed at the State Convention. The implementation section of each Resolution will require action by the VP Public Policy.

AAUW ERAMN: AAUW Branches will actively support and advocate for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment within Minnesota and nationally. Activities to achieve this may include but are not be limited to:

  • Branches educating their members about the Equal Rights Amendment to include for example, visiting the website, and watching “Equal Means Equal” or “Legalize Equality” videos
  • Letter/postcard writing campaigns to Minnesota and U.S. Legislators advocating for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Personal visits to both Minnesota and U.S. Legislators advocating for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment

AAUW DACA: The State Board of AAUW Minnesota will encourage its branches to stay informed on the progression of DACA legislation and the impact it has on education in Minnesota. Policy chairs will inform State and Federal representatives of AAUW’s studies of correlation between education and a more productive life.

The VP Public Policy will assist branches through research and keeping current to the issues in order to disseminate information.

Resolutions Power Point presentation: How to write a Resolution [click for a copy]

During the convention, State officers conducted Officer Training sessions. To the group who attended Public Policy session, I offered a presentation on ‘how to write a resolution’.

AAUW Public Policy Priorities 2019-20

Public Policy Priorities are now in process of adoption by national vote. However, at the State Convention a motion to approve the 2019-20 National Public Policy Priorities de facto, carried. AAUW members received an email from National on or before April 24th. Voting is now open in AAUW’s National Election! This is the culmination of the biannual process to update our Public Policy Priorities, and State Public Policy Chairs have been involved every step of the way, from submitting survey feedback to commenting on proposed changes.

ERAMN Information

ERAMN provided literature and voting postcards for all AAUW members. Those present were also given a 30-minute DVD titled ‘Legalize Equality’, which branches can use and view. Branches not present will be mailed a copy to your branch president.

AAUW Legislative Day – March 8, 2019 – State Capitol

While at the Legislative Day and Rally in the Capitol Rotunda, I took many photos. I used the photos to create a 3-minute video montage. This video will be shared in The PINE and on the AAUW MN website.

Voting Rights:

An AAUW branch member share this information in which a particular statement shocked me. I was totally aware the 2016 MN Legislature had passed a bill establishing a presidential nomination primary. MN had only had a Caucus process for determining nominees.

The information below is copied from the MN Secretary of State webpage. The section in bold and underlined can be interpreted as alarming. There are hyperlinks in blue that should be read.

What is certain is this new Primary process will be highly suspect to voter discrimination and give leverage to incumbents. District election judges are receiving training and assumedly will be prepared. But will the public be prepared to have their vote suppressed? As public policy chairs/contacts, you must be vigilant to this process.

MN Presidential Primary

i. In 2016 legislation was passed establishing a presidential nomination primary. Common questions about the presidential primary are answered below.

  • When will the presidential nomination primary take place?
  • March 3, 2020.

  • Will all parties participate in the presidential nomination primary?
  • No, only major parties will participate.

  • Will all parties be on the same ballot?
  • No, each major party will have a separate ballot.

  • Who decides which candidates will appear on a party’s ballot?
  • The chair of each party will submit a list of candidates for the party’s ballot no later than 63 days before the date of the presidential primary (December 31, 2019).

  • What if a candidate drops out before the primary?
  • Once a party’s list is submitted, changes will not be made to candidates that will appear on the ballot.

  • Will there be a place to write in a choice or vote for “uncommitted”?
  • Only if it is requested by the party chair. Party chairs will need to submit names of write-in candidates to be counted seven days before the primary.

  • Will any other offices be on the ballot?
  • No, only presidential candidates from a major party will appear on the presidential primary ballot. Other offices with a primary will be on the primary ballot in August.

  • How will I be able to vote in the presidential nomination primary?
  • Registered voters will be able to vote at their polling place on presidential primary day or by absentee up to 46 days before presidential primary day (January 17, 2020). A voter must state which party's ballot they want and will be given a ballot containing only that party's candidates. If you refuse to select a party, you will not be able to vote in the presidential nomination primary.

  • Will other people know which party’s ballot I request?
  • Yes, a voter’s choice of party ballot will be recorded and will be public information. How a voter voted on the ballot will be secret.

  • Will parties have to abide by the primary results?
  • The presidential primary results must bind the election of delegates in each party.

  • Who will pay for the presidential nomination primary?
  • County and municipalities will be reimbursed by the state for the primary costs.

  • Will there still be precinct caucuses?
  • Yes, precinct caucuses and local and state nominating conventions will still take place to conduct other party business.

In conclusion, Public Policy is an essential element of AAUW MN and reflects the priorities set forth by AAUW National. As your VP of Public Policy, I will remain vigilant and as proactive as possible to ensure information is provided to branch public policy chairs & contacts in a timely manner.

Moving Forward - Collectively Advocating

Printable copy of the Public Policy Information

Reflections from NCCWSL

Submitted by NCCWSL attendee Sara Minder

I recently had the incredible opportunity to represent AAUW Duluth at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). This is a conference where women from all of the country come together to learn important skills that will help them in school and in the workplace. Its ultimate goal is to empower and inspire women to reach their full potential.

I applied for the AAUW Duluth scholarship not thinking I would get it. I figured I might as well apply, since the conference is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Once I got the email that I received the full-ride scholarship, I remember being so ecstatic. I was smiling ear-to-ear to myself, and was so obviously elated by the news that my friends stopped the game they were playing to ask me why I looked so giddy. Thank you to AAUW Duluth for giving me the amazing opportunity to go to this conference. Without your scholarship, attending NCCWSL would not have been possible for me!

Immediately following this happy news, however, was a feeling of dread and fear. I had never travelled by myself before. I had only flown for the first time a year ago. I immediately began to worry about the travel details of the trip, like how I would find my flight and get to the University of Maryland once I landed. As the conference grew nearer and nearer, this apprehension grew stronger. But I made it Maryland without any hiccups. It felt really empowering to be able to travel and find my way around by myself!

The conference itself was absolutely amazing and made me feel like I can conquer whatever the world throws at me as I continue to look for jobs and enter the workforce after graduation. I attended five workshops that helped strengthen my skills, knowledge, and abilities:

  1. Rock Your Profile: Tips and Tricks for LinkedIn

  2. Navigating Difficult Conversations: How to Have Productive Conversations When You Don’t Agree

  3. Building Authentic and Powerful Relationships in a Diverse Society

  4. Campaigns and Election Trails

  5. Public Speaking for Women by a Woman Who Speaks

Each of these workshops gave me great information that I will be able to use as I enter the workforce!

My favorite events of the conference were the Keynote Speaker Dr. Terari Trent and the Women of Distinction Awards. Dr. Trent grew up in Zimbabwe and was married off when she was a teenager to an abusive husband. She had 3 kids by the time she was 18. She had a dream of getting her GED, bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees. She taught herself to read, got her GED, came to the United States, and worked hard for 20 years until she got her PhD. Her story was gripping and stirring. It really puts things into perspective about how privileged we are to live here and have the educational opportunities we have.

The Women of Distinction Awards honored four amazing women who have accomplished great things in the world. Jane Marie Chen is the founder of Embrace Innovations. She and her team invented an incubator that cost 1% of what incubators at the time cost which have helped save over 300,000 premature babies worldwide. Sandra Kim is the founder of Everyday Feminism and Re-Becoming Human Together and advocates for intersectional feminism and radical self-care in everyday life. Lauren Simmons is the youngest person, only woman, and second African American woman stock broker on the New York Stock Exchange. Ashley Nell Tipton won Project Runway and was the first designer in the show’s history to design for plus-size women. Learning more about these women’s accomplishments and hearing them speak was probably the best part of this conference. They showed how determination, innovation, and challenging the status-quo can lead to great things.

I feel so blessed to have been able to attend this conference. I learned so much, was inspired, gained confidence, and made connections and friends that will last a lifetime. Thank you again to AAUW Duluth for giving me this incredibly opportunity!

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