Making Democracy Work

About the League

What is our mission? How are we structured? What is our history?

Old News - But Fun

Newspaper clipping from 1973 covering the annual LWV interview with 2nd District Republican Congressman Marvin Esch.

Representative Esch participated via speaker phone (LWV was high tech even then) because he was in Washington working on the energy bill that was passed that year (remember the gasoline shortages of 1973?).

He said that his priorities for the upcoming session of Congress included pension reform, tax reform, housing, education, restructuring Congress, and campaign financing reform. Those are still topics facing our government today.

Our Mission and Roles

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. We never support or oppose any political party or candidate.

The League of Women Voters has two separate and distinct roles.

  • Voters Service/Citizen Education: we present unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and issues.

  • Action/Advocacy: we are also nonpartisan, but, after study, we use our positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.

To conduct our voter service and citizen education activities, we use funds from the League of Women Voters Education Fund, which is a 501(c)(3) corporation, a nonprofit educational organization. The League of Women Voters, a membership organization, conducts action and advocacy and is a nonprofit 501(c)(4) corporation.

Our Vision, Beliefs, and Intentions guide our activities.

Local League Information


President - Joan Sampieri

Vice President - Donna Crudder

Treasurer - Betty Bishop

Secretary - Sue Smereck


Advocacy - Carolyn Madden

Communications - Susan Wooley

Development - Diana Neering

Membership - Barbara Brown

Program - Roxane Chan

Voter Service - Geoff Smereck

Brighton-Howell Unit - Ellen Lafferty

Tecumseh Unit - Jan Salsberry


Dee Dishon

Paige Silence




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More volunteers at LWV art fair booth July 2012

Other League Organizations

Our Ann Arbor Area League is one of 22 local Leagues throughout Michigan. We are currently sponsoring two newly formed "Units" - Tecumseh and Brighton-Howell. After two years successful operation, each of these groups will become official local Leagues for their area.

Our members are also members of


History of the League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters started after women got the right to vote. In her address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) 50th convention in St. Louis, Missouri, President Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the creation of a "league of women voters to finish the fight and aid in the reconstruction of the nation." Women Voters was formed within the NAWSA, composed of the organizations in the states where suffrage had already been attained. The next year, on February 14, 1920 - six months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified - the League was formally organized in Chicago as the national League of Women Voters. Catt described the purpose of the new organization:

"The League of Women Voters is not to dissolve any present organization but to unite all existing organizations of women who believe in its principles. It is not to lure women from partisanship but to combine them in an effort for legislation which will protect coming movements, which we cannot even foretell, from suffering the untoward conditions which have hindered for so long the coming of equal suffrage. Are the women of the United States big enough to see their opportunity?"
Maud Wood Park became the first national president of the League and thus the first League leader to rise to the challenge. She had steered the women's suffrage amendment through Congress in the last two years before ratification and liked nothing better than legislative work. From the very beginning, however, it was apparent that the legislative goals of the League were not exclusively focused on women's issues and that citizen education aimed at all of the electorate was in order. Since its inception, the League has helped millions of women and men become informed participants in government. In fact, the first league convention voted 69 separate items as statements of principle and recommendations for legislation. Among them were protection for women and children, right of working women, food supply and demand, social hygiene, the legal status of women, and American citizenship.The League's first major national legislative success was the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act providing federal aid for maternal and child care programs. In the 1930's, League members worked successfully for enactment of the Social Security and Food and Drug Acts. Due at least in part to League efforts, legislation passed in 1938 and 1940 removed hundreds of federal jobs from the spoils system and placed them under Civil Service. During the postwar period, the League helped lead the effort to establish the United Nations and to ensure U.S. participation. The League was one of the first organizations in the country officially recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization; it still maintains official observer status today.
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