I just returned from Phoenix - where the heat is a "dry heat" - and the American Association of University Women national convention. It was a great four days, filled with information on mission-based programming and big decisions on the future of the organization.
For me, AAUW conventions, both NYS and Association (this was my second Association convention), tend to be both energizing and moving. This past weekend in Phoenix was no different.
I attended a workshop on the status of Title IX, the law that ensures equity in educational opportunities for girls. The law has done a world of good in helping girls achieve in sports (for which the law is perhaps best know) as well as in areas in which girls are typically underrepresented. Lisa Maatz, AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, led the workshop and was a dynamic speaker. There seems to be a strong inclination on the part of the current administration to erode much of Title IX. Maatz however was clear about the work AAUW members and other like-minded organizations and individuals must do to protect this important law.
I was also able to hear members from Alabama discuss ways to engage young women through a Student Advisory Panel. The young women gain invaluable leadership skills while still in college. AAUW gains critical insight into the next generation of members and leaders. This workshop left me jazzed to work with NYS branches in implementing similar efforts here.
The highlight of my convention experience however was bringing my daughter (eight years old) to hear Dr. Mae Jemison. Dr. Jemison received the 2007 AAUW Achievement Award, AAUW's highest honor. She was dynamic, funny and inspiring. And hearing the woman who inspired much of the work we do with the Expanding Your Horizons(tm) was a real treat.
As always, after a weekend with AAUW women, I came home with renewed determination and passion for the work we do. Knowing that you are in the company of dedicated, terrific women will do that for you.
If you aren't already a member, check out your local branch and see how you might reap the rewards of membership. (Click here for a map of NYS branches. If you're not in NYS, click here.)