Committees and Working Groups

The Voter Services Committee facilitates voter registrations, publication of online voter guides, observations of canvassing boards and forums for candidates and ballot issues.

The Voter Services Committee facilitates voter registrations, publication of online voter guides, observations of canvassing boards and forums for candidates and ballot issues.

Volunteering for a LWV committee or working group is a great way to become familiar with how the League operates and to learn about its involvement in local, state, and national issues.

Participation will expand your knowledge of all levels of government, and further develop your communication, leadership, and project management skills.

  • Program Committees manage the components of our annual program.
  • Working Groups meet periodically to keep abreast of specific issues and to advocate for positions based on League consensus.
  • Standing Committees manage and sustain our League.

Program Committees 2016-2017

Voter Service

This longstanding educational committee is at the heart of the League. It’s tremendous scope of activity includes candidate forums, registering voters, publishing an online voter guide, and educating the citizenry about proposed amendments and the voting process. The committee speaks to the core of the League Mission to engage people in democracy and to do so in a nonpartisan way.

The 2016 Election Cycle is a critical time as we approach the appointments for the Florida State Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and entertain the opportunity to place amendments on the ballot, making this election cycle even more important.

The committee is also engaged as a participant in the National Study of Open Primaries. If the LWV of Florida adopts a position on Open Primaries, it may form the basis for education and advocacy in the future through the development of a Program or working group, apart from the educational work of Voter Services. Chair is Raechel Garafolo. 

Health Care

We work to ensure that as many Floridians as possible have access to health care that covers as much as possible, with as few out of pocket expenses as possible.  Our League became involved in the Advocacy campaign to get the Florida government to expand Medicaid as provided for in the ACA four years ago.  In 2015, we supported the state and other efforts through advocacy, letter campaigns, and making legislative contacts. The efforts of our League and those of the state and other coalitions met with substantial resistance from the House, in spite of a bill being offered in the Senate. Last year, the League has partnered with Florida Chain and has secured significant funds to launch an educational campaign across the state. The goal of the Program was to educate the citizenry, public officials, and health care administrations about the human impact for those uninsured, and the financial consequences to the FL economy. Lead is Julie Kessel. 


This committee is co-chaired by Karen Coale, who is also co-chair to the State League’s Immigration Committee, and Kay Lahdenpera.  In 2009, Immigration was proposed as a Program for the local League, based on a LWVUS position crafted seven years ago. It moved to working group status based on a lack of state focus and advocacy objectives in order to monitor state legislative issues and increase awareness to the general membership.

In 2016, the Immigration Working Group launched a voter education campaign to lift up the issue of immigration and why it is important to understand candidates’ positions on related topics.  Please follow this link to access fact sheets and other important information on issues related to immigration.

In the last year, Immigration was identified as a second-tier State priority, but the introduction of punitive immigration bills (totally as many as 16) in the Florida legislature has prompted the working group to engage in advocacy in order to mount a defeat of those bills. The LWVSPA Immigration Action Group follows these bills closely and offers action steps for concerned citizens.  Please find our Immigration Action Guide here.

As a result of the shift in priorities, the group has developed a Program, in which the focus will include both education and advocacy. Most recently, the working group hosted a very well-attended educational panel seminar on Human Trafficking at USFSP Student Center.  This year the committee will take up a speakers bureau focus for education and legislative-based advocacy.


Working Groups


In 2017-18, the Education Working Group, by Robin Jones and Iris Yetter, will study critical issues at the state and local level, use findings to mount an educational campaign to increase awareness among citizens, and engage in advocacy work aligned with LWVF legislative priorities during the 2018 legislative session.
The study areas include:

  • Capital and operational K-12 funding
  • Student testing; student and teacher assessment
  • Charter schools and tax-credit scholarships
  • The achievement gap in Pinellas County Schools
Gun Safety

The Gun Safety Group grew out of advocacy against Campus and Open Carry legislation in 2015-2016 sessions that was unexpectedly defeated in the Senate Judiciary in February 2016. Thanks to Senator Diaz de la Portilla, we celebrate that victory.

In spite of this victory, we expect the introduction of new dangerous gun-related bills in the legislature in the next session. The LWVF and many local Leagues have been advocating with univer Leaders, Law Enforcement, Municipalities, and The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. These bills would have allowed permit holders ages 21 and up to carry concealed firearms on all public college and university campuses.

This group will continue to educate the citizenry, monitor the introduction of any new dangerous gun-related bills, continue to build a coalition of gun safety advocates both in and out of the LWVF, and ready the group to move to advocacy and full Program status if new bills are introduced. Coordinator is Sharon Winters.

International Relations

Discussion topics are chosen from the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions series. League members from the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area and the North Pinellas League rotate presenting the topic and facilitating the discussion. The committee meets monthly from September to May. Chair is Judy McSwine of North Pinellas County LWV. 

Recycling in St. Pete

This working group is led by Karen Coale and Kathy Mossing. What started in 2012 when the League commissioned the Kessler Report and the subsequent League-led community advocacy campaign to bring UCR to St Pete has evolved into an educational program focused on supporting the city’s implementation and expansion through its branded coalition, The Peoples Trash.

In July of 2015, the city responded to the concerns of the citizens and initiated alley pick up in Kenwood and parts of the old NE. The first year of the program saw substantial uptake, with participation and and tonnage per household exceeding expectations. The goal of the League through its leadership in the coalition is to ensure that the city metrics continue to ensure accountability and to encourage expansion of the program to multiunit households, hospitality and tourism establishments, and businesses. Challenges to the program include saturation of the processing plant capacity, potentially limiting the opportunity for the program to grow.

Reproductive Rights

Amy Weintraub leads this group that affirms and advocates for equal and safe access to the full range of reproductive health care – from abortion to birth control to evidence-based sex education. The group works to increase participation in the reproductive rights movement in the Tampa Bay area through visibility events, letter-to-the editor campaigns, and educational films, discussions, book studies, and forums. Forming ongoing relationships with state- and federal-level elected officials, as well as local public health officials, is a priority.

Campaign Finance Reform

Julie Kessel leads this group that works to educate elected officials and the general public on the influence big campaign donors and allies have on public policy.  Currently, the group is working to get big money out of St. Petersburg.  In summer of 2017, members of St Petersburg City Council will be presented with an opportunity to put people back in charge of our democracy. Council members can vote yes on the ordinance that would get big money out of local politics by banning Super PAC contributions to candidates and limiting contributions from corporations with significant foreign ownership.  This would result in elevating the voices of everyday people, expanding opportunities to run for office and encouraging participation- all possible when big money has no influence on politics.

Social Justice

This working group, led by Julie Kessel, focuses on bringing films to screen and organizing panel discussions to promote public awareness of topics including poverty and the death penalty.


Led by Claire Karas, Lisa Vanover, and Susan Tuite this working group focuses on environmental sustainability for clean water, air, and land.

Standing Committees


Communication about our work and our mission through electronic media such as Constant Contact emails, Facebook, Twitter and our website is essential to our success. We encourage members who are proficient in the use of electronic/social media to become involved in helping us as we advance our message and our mission and explore the use of other social media.

Fund Raising

Our annual dues, including local, state, and national League, are $52 for an individual membership, with $6 returning to the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area. In order to support our robust annual Program, continue our outstanding Voter Service work and sustain this League’s future, we supplement dues income with fundraisers. We send out annual appeal letters and hold special events, such as our Awards Luncheons where we recognized the Honorable Patricia Schroeder (2014) and Gypsy Gallardo (2015).

Member Services

When you join the League, we want you to have a positive and seamless experience from the very beginning. We want to increase every member’s engagement by tapping into their interests and utilizing their talents. Along with communication through our website, Twitter, Facebook, emails, mentorship program, and social events, we promote opportunities for members to deepen their understanding of governmental policy and legislation at the local, state and national levels.  


This committee consists of five members — three are elected by the members at the Annual Meeting. The two remaining members are appointed by the Board from their own number. Their responsibility is to produce nominations for the officers, directors and members of the succeeding nominating committee. The report of their nominations are due to all members at least one month before the Annual Meeting — which is usually held at the end of April.

Committee/Work Group Lead(s)
Closing the Gap in Health Care Julie Kessel & Kathy Mossing
Immigration                Karen Coale & Kay Lahdenpera
Voter Service Raechel Garafalo
Member Services  Jaime Dixon
Recycling Karen Coale & Kathy Mossing
Gun Safety Sharon Winters
Sustainability Claire Karas, Lisa Vanover, and Susan Tuite
Education Robin Jones and Iris Yetter
Social Justice Julie Kessel
Reproductive Rights Amy Weintraub
International Relations Judy McSwine (North County League)

Contact the LWVSPA office to be put in touch with any of the leaders listed above.

Telephone (727) 896- 5197