Our June Conference will be held on June 1-3, 2012, at the Hampton Inn & Suites, Albany, NY. Hope you have registered. District X is hosting, with some local and familiar assistance. We will elect a new slate of officers and welcome a new Board of Directors, as well as Committee Chairs. There is more evolutionary (perhaps revolutionary) work to be done with your input and support. Make your voice heard and make a difference.
The program will again feature year-end updates from committees, as well as productive, informative, and motivating sessions. Registration forms are available on the web site, in the last issue of NIKE and in the Communicator. Reserve the dates, reserve your room, and register for the Conference. A very preliminary program schedule is included in this issue. Please contact me if there are needs not reflected in this schedule.
It is with sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the untimely passing of Kathleen Butterfield, a long-time member from District IV. She is remembered as a woman who gave much to her family and her friends in BPW and NYSWI. Her life was filled with many challenges but her inner strength and perseverance helped her through life’s trials. She had accepted my appointment to chair the New Careerist Sub-Committee. She did not have a Vice Chair to my knowledge. If anyone was working with Kathleen, please contact me. Kathleen’s memory will be honored at our Memorial Service at Conference.
NYSWI has responded to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, sponsored by her and other colleagues. The memo of support was featured on our website.
A request for support for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) also came from Senator Gillibrand. The law was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and reauthorized by a bipartisan congressional vote in 2000 and 2005. The law raised national awareness of the aspects of all forms of violence perpetrated against women and gave financial support to programs created to address related issues. While Senator Gillibrand’s request implied a lack of Republican support, my research revealed that the VAWA was rewritten to include other groups of individuals (not limited to women, legal immigrants and those who abide by our Constitution and laws), changing the entire dimension of focus, not to mention a adding a phenomenal amount of additional spending to an already insurmountable national deficit and debt. The Senate is debating two new bill proposals, one by Sen. Timothy Leahy (D-Vermont) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). I indicated in my response to senator Gillibrand that I felt that debate on the issues was healthy and that my job was to both educate our members to the facts and encourage members to respond as they feel appropriate. The Supreme Court addressed the law and upheld the funding provided to organizations that provided support to women who were victims of violence and violent crimes, but deemed that the States had the authority to address such crimes through law enforcement, courts and legal actions. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was successful in removing the acquisition of DNA clause as a violation of the civil rights of the accused. Many states have inadequate legal penalties for violent crimes against women, let alone children.
As I remarked to members and guests at a recent District Meeting I attended, it would appear that no legislation ends up being pure and simple. It seems that many tentacles extend out from the body, or the bill, often causing the demise of good intentions and potentially valuable results. Political involvement and advocacy require diligent research and an understanding of the reasons for the success or failure of legislation. I have discovered that there is no “black and white”; instead, the colors are most often convoluted to shades of grey. It is still hard to believe that, in spite of what American women have achieved over the centuries since the Pilgrim landings, we are still striving for respect and equality on so many levels, without political biases and agendas. We should not be used as pawns in anyone’s game. When we allow ourselves to be used in this manor, we appear to be weak, lacking in knowledge and easily manipulated, once again the “victims.” If anyone is interested in my respectful response to Senator Gillibrand’s e-mailed request for support, please contact me.
Please check out our redesigned NYSWI website to access documents and publications, update your member profile, and search for other members. It continues to be an awesome and invaluable means of communication, along with the Communicator and NIKE. We now have a Speakers Bureau that is building rapidly. Make yourself known and make your skills and knowledge available to members and others as we provide this service. Thanks to Renee Cerullo, Neale Steiniger and Linda Przespasniak for all they have done to preserve our ability to disseminate information to our members. Please share the information about our efforts with members and potential members. Remember: LOUD & PROUD!!