Archive for June, 2015

The League of Woman Voters

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

The officers of the Charlottesville Area League of Women Voters, Kerin Yates, Gerry Yemen and Patricia Hurst, discuss the mission of the League of Women Voters, its history and the positions adopted by the organization. The officers spoke at the Wednesday, June 10, 2015 meeting, which was moderated by SSV Board Member Jeff Gould.

Gerry Yemen, Kerin Yates and Pat Hurst

From left to right: Gerry Yemen, Kerin Yates and Pat Hurst speaking at the Senior Center

Kerin Yates has served as president of the LWV of the Charlottesville Area since July 2012. She is a 1958 graduate of Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA., and was a research chemist at NIH for 17 years and was business manager for a medical company in Pittsburgh for 15 years. Kerin is the treasurer of OneVirginia2021 Foundation and volunteers as a substitute driver for Meals on Wheels. Kerin serves as an election official for the County of Albemarle and has been a resident of Albemarle County for eight years. She is married to Professor John T. Yates, Jr. They have two sons and six grandchildren.

Gerry Yemen is the secretary of the LWV of the Charlottesville Area and is a senior researcher with the Darden Graduate School of Business. With any number of organizations, associations, and volunteer opportunities available, why would anyone choose to join the LWV? Gerry Yemen, who became a member shortly following graduate school, discussed what attracted her, why she stays with the organization, and offered her thoughts on how the league’s future relevance.

Patricia Hurst is the treasurer of the LWV and has been a member of the Charlottesville Area Chapter for six years. During this time she has served as president, treasurer, and secretary for the local league. She retired from a 40-year career in computer software engineering which began at NASA Langley in Virginia and ended with the SBA in Washington D.C. In between she worked for various companies in California, Georgia, New York, and London. As an instructor in software engineering, she traveled extensively in the US and other countries. For the past fourteen years, she has owned and actively managed multifamily properties. Pat has two daughters who live in upstate New York and five grandchildren.

Program Summary

Officers of the Charlottesville Area League of Women Voters: Kerin Yates, Gerry Yemen and Patricia Hurst, provided an overview of the mission of the League of Women Voters, its history and the positions adopted by the organization.

Kerin began by explaining how this meeting with SSV came about. About a year ago she saw the announcement in The Daily Progress that Dahlia Lithwick would be speaking on the Supreme Court at the upcoming SSV meeting. Kerin attended the meeting and found it to be very exciting. She then looked up SSV on the Internet and saw that there were many similarities between the League and SSV and so she emailed the SSV board and suggested they explore if we could coordinate our work. This led to a couple of informal meetings and then finally to today’s program.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Members study issues for two to four years (recent example is the issue of prisons in our country), and if consensus is achieved, then they lobby as a group. The League has a very good reputation for intellectual integrity. They are invited by legislators to testify on various issues. Their greatest asset is their reputation on intellectual rigor. This allows the League to open doors and to be invited to the table and to be taken very seriously. This is important because we are in an age when absolutely anything goes in public debate. Allegiance to the truth doesn’t exist very much anymore because the first consideration is often getting your way or getting elected.

Pat Hurst reviewed the history of the League which was founded in 1920 (the year the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified) by Carrie Chapman Catt who was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement that lasted for 71 years. There were many small steps towards the march to women’s suffrage, examples of which are: in 1896 Utah joined the union and granted full women’s suffrage; in 1906 Idaho adopted an amendment to the state constitution enfranchising women to vote; and in 1917 Montana elected the first woman to the House of Representatives.

Gerry Yemen described the profound impact her membership in the League has had in her life. A Canadian citizen, she credits the League in large part for her eventually achieving U. S. citizenship and the honor of being sworn in at the ceremony held at Monticello.