In 2019, the Edina league of the League of Women Voters celebrated the 100th birthday of the national organization. They kicked off their celebration back in September of last year and have been hosting informational events and speakers all throughout the fall and winter. March 8 is International Women’s Day and members of the League will mark the day by handing out birthday cake in local stores and talking about the League’s one hundred years of civic involvement.
The League of Women voters is a non-partisan group that supports voter awareness and encourages voter education and engagement. Nassim Rossi joined the League in 2016 at a time she says she was motivated to learn more about civic and political systems.
“I really felt called, in a profound way, to understand more about how politics work as well as the role of the individual in that process,” Rossi says. “The civility of the League really spoke to me and I appreciated the mission to educate.”
As a non-partisan organization, the League doesn’t take positions on candidates or ballot items, but it does take policy positions at the national level—like environmental policy, fair housing laws and, of course, voting rights. Education about those policy areas is one of the missions of the League, and that attracted Rossi. She began attending educational events and showing up to hear speakers so often, that it was only natural she would join.
Currently, she serves as the outreach chair. In that role, she tries to reach out to younger people and people of color—despite the name, the League encourages men to join, as well.
One of the things Rossi has started, in an effort to bring in more young people, is a student board position and that’s how Izzy Wagener became involved. Wagener is a sophomore at Edina High School and recently became leader of the LWV club at EHS.
“A teacher at my high school who knew I was interested in politics and government encouraged me to look into becoming involved,” Wagener says. “I really like that their mission is to expand voter access. I think it’s important to help people learn how to ‘vote informed.’”
Rossi believes the League gatherings are an enjoyable way to learn more about important issues. Longtime member Connie Hondl agrees. Hondl joined the Edina league in 1971 and has held several offices, including chapter president.
“I’ve made many friends over the years working with the League,” Hondl says. “You meet interesting people, people who are willing to become involved with things that have an impact.” Hondl also liked learning about issues she’d never been involved with, or even interested in. “When you serve on the board you may be asked to spearhead an education project and it may not be something you know much about, but you dig in and learn it and then you think ‘Well, that’s pretty interesting, I never really thought about that before.’”
Hondl also says she thinks the organization becomes even more important as political discourse becomes more polarized. “We stay relevant because we are able to have conversations about both sides of issues,” she explains.
Minnesota ratified the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote almost a full year before the rest of the nation finished voting. The amendment was adopted, so the local Edina league can lay claim to a vibrant history at the forefront of the voting rights movement as it joins the nation in marking 100 years of women laying claim to the right to vote.
League of Women Voters
Click here for details about spring events and speakers.
Facebook: League of Women Voters Edina