Upon reflection of our accomplishments, I am awed by the diversity and volume of our impact since our last summer cocktail salon, though I am not surprised given our Board's commitment and leadership, our members' active participation, our supporters and partners' collaboration, and our mission to elevate more pro-choice women into appointed and elected office. When we blend need and leadership, change is sure to come.
Overwhelming gratitude is extended to our 2014-2015 caucus leadership: Amelia Lopez, Amy Shrago, Annie Flores, Ces Rosales, Jamila English, Dr. Jennifer Ong, Jennifer Root, Jennifer Webber, Julie Waters, Kerry Birnbach, Maria Henderson, Rose Sutton, Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton, Susan Rosenthal and Winnie Anderson. These women led our caucus through a pivotal evolution into the East Bay Women’s Political Caucus (EBWPC). They are talented. They are strong. They are brilliant. They create. They inspire. Thank you.
So, what did we collectively achieve in 2014-2015?
Well, to name a few:
- Kicking right into gear with Stronger Together in August, we united more than 100 supporters and organized 9 sister organizations to welcome the California Democratic Party’s Women's Caucus to Oakland. During the event, we collectively committed to cultivating a culture of collaboration. Thank you Emerge CA, close the gap CA, Association of American University Women, Black Women Organizing for Political Action, Women Get It Done, DAWN, Courage to Run and the CDP Women’s Caucus.
- We hosted an Oakland Women Mayoral Candidates Forum at the beautiful woman-owned Joyce Gordon Gallery, featuring the top four candidates for Oakland’s chief executive – all women! Topics ranged from economic equality, family leave, women’s entrepreneurialism and health care. Thank you to Jennifer Root and Julie Waters for guiding this event.
- Under the leadership of Political Action Committee Co-Chairs Ces Rosales and Annie Flores, we hosted our largest endorsement meeting. From voter mobilization, walks and phone banks and financial support, come Election Day, 21 of 24 of our endorsed were victorious and all seven of our endorsed measures passed, demonstrating that when women run, women win - and when women win, we all win.
- We are now publishing (and are using) new position papers on minimum wage and paid leave policies that are spreading like wildfire throughout the Bay Area. We have been part of the dialogue in Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville on this important topic. Thank you to Legislation Committee Co-Chairs Dr. Jennifer Ong and Kerry Birnbach, as well as Rose Sutton, for their strategic focus.
In November, after much conscious engagement, much dialogue and much balanced analysis, formed the independent East Bay Women’s Political Caucus. This new structure not only expands our organization to include the southern part of Alameda County and Contra Costa County, it provides the capacity to provide more focused, effective impact to meet the diverse needs of our area.
- We launched a new website, rebranded and implemented a robust communications plan. Our Facebook community is strong, and we earned media coverage in the Mercury News, Oakland Tribune and Bay Area Reporter. We’ve begun publishing op-eds on issues we champion and on our activities. Big kudos to Communications Chair Jennifer Webber for leading the charge!
- The new EBWPC Leadership Circle, an advisory body, is dedicated to ensuring the organization’s sustainability through resource cultivation and partnership building. Thank you Sharon Ball, Elizabeth Echols, Peggy Moore, Rena Rickles, Melanie Sweeney-Griffith, Catherine Trimbur and Karen Weinstein for your guidance and TLC.
- Expansion. EBWPC’s territory is not only Alameda County North, it includes South Alameda County and Contra Costa too. Under the focused hand of Maria Henderson, we crafted and implemented a listening tour in these new regions, reaching out to women and men elected officials to learn about how they perceive the state of women in politics and to learn their needs. The feedback? "Come." "Yes." "We need you." "This is great!" This vital feedback is shaping our expansion strategy. We spoke at the East Bay Elected Women’s Lunch and continue to meet with new organizational partners to share how we can mutually support one another toward our shared goal.
- Our inaugural events in Walnut Creek and Hayward communicated healthy support for the value we offer. At a forum with SD 7 women candidates Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and former Assemblywomen Joan Buchanan, the room was packed. In Hayward, EBWPC, Mayor Barbara Halliday and Councilmembers Sara Lamnin and Elisa Marquez, and the South County Young Democrats co-hosted a discussion on human trafficking in Alameda County. We heard about impact and solutions for eliminating human trafficking from our esteemed panel: Vera Ciammetti, CEO of Ruby's Place, Diane Urban, City of Hayward Chief of Police, Carla Dartis, Alameda County District Attorney's Office and Sophora Acheson, COO of Ruby's Place. These are but two examples of the educational gatherings our Programs Committee organizes under the facilitative hand of Chair Winnie Anderson.
- The annual Susan B. Anthony Awards continues to be one of the East Bay’s largest political events. This year we honored California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins; State Controller Betty Yee; Manager of the Alameda County/Oakland Planned Parenthood Mar Monte health centers Donna McNichol; and Haley Broder, Sofie Kasarek and Meghan Warner, student leaders at UC Berkeley. This year’s Susan B. Anthony Chair Sbeydeh Viveros Walton did an impeccable job. Thank you also to our very generous event sponsors. You are equipping us with the resources to support women’s political leadership heading into the 2016 election year.
It has been an honor serving with such a devoted and effective volunteer board. When people learn we are all volunteers, the response is, "Wow." Indeed.
With gratitude. In service.
Frieda K. Edgette
Chair, East Bay Women’s Political Caucus