Volunteering for a LWV 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.
- Education Action Groups manage the components of our annual program dedicated to educating the general public.
- Advocacy Action Groups keep abreast of specific issues and advocate for positions based on League consensus.
- Administrative Groups and Standing Committees manage and sustain our League.
Education Action Groups
Voter Service – Raechel Garafalo, Chair; Lindsay Murdoch, Voter Registration and Campus Outreach Lead
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.
International Relations – Judy McSwine (North Pinellas County LWV), Chair
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.
This working group focuses on bringing films to screen and organizing panel discussions to promote public awareness of topics such as poverty and the death penalty.
Advocacy Action Groups
Campaign Finance Reform – Julie Kessel and Karen Lieberman, Co-Chairs
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.
Education – Robin Jones and Iris Yetter, Co-Chairs
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 – Sharon Winters, Chair
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.
Health Care – Julie Kessel, Chair
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. In the past, the League partnered with Florida Chain and secured significant funds to launch educational campaigns 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.
Immigration – Karen Coale (also co-chairs the LWVF Immigration Committee) and Lydia Castle, Co-Chairs
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.
Reproductive Rights – Amy Weintraub (also chairs the LWVF Reproductive Health & Justice Committee)
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.
Sustainability – Claire Karas, Lisa Vanover, and Susan Tuite, Co-Chairs
This working group focuses on environmental sustainability for clean water, air, and land.
Voter Protection – Stephanie Owens, Chair
This group is dedicated to ensuring all eligible voters have the opportunity and the information to exercise their right to vote. The group aims to protect and expand voting rights by advocating for proactive reforms such as expanded early voting and online voter registration, ensuring existing pro-voter laws are being followed and challenging all efforts that limit the ability of the voter to exercise this basic right.
Communications – Julie Kessel, Chair
This group is made up of Board Members and the Promotion Chair to ensure that best practices are used in our communications about our work and our mission.
Fundraising and Events – Michelene Everett and Erin Cody, Co-Chairs
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. This group also assists with other League-wide events and those that are open to the general public.
Member Services – Jaime Dixon, Chair
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.
Promotion – Amy Weintraub, Chair
This action group works to promote the League and its events to our members and the greater community via social media, print and email communications, and the traditional media. 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.
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.
Contact Group Leads and Board Members directly via our leadership contact list or contact the LWVSPA office to be put in touch with any of the leaders listed above.
Telephone (727) 896- 5197