Women of Our Future by Myra Van Hoose
For the Pensacola News Journal
For Sunday, August 4, 2019
Submitted by: Myra Van Hoose on behalf of the Institute for Women in Politics of Northwest Florida
Women of Our Future
Over the past year, the Institute for Women in Politics (IWP) has shared success stories about women in politics - beloved historical figures whose stories are seldom told. We will continue to do so: to see these stories go mainstream is one of our goals. But change is in the air. The Board of IWP is transitioning to new leadership. Our renewed focus will be on the future and what women in our community are doing right now, starting with welcoming the following new board members and officers: Hannah Ritz, Lola Presley, Maura Peavler, Anna Higgins, Nancy Bullock-Prevot, Myra Van Hoose, President, Deborah Corbin, Vice President, Magi Williams, Secretary, and Vikki Garrett, Treasurer.
For six years, IWP has been training candidates, educating and encouraging women to take leadership roles, and engaging with community partners to focus more on civil discourse in public leadership. We remain non-partisan and issue-neutral with one clear focus: elevating women. We are cultivating female leaders that are starting to shape politics locally and we would like you to hear their stories, too. To that end, we are announcing the first recipients of the Institute for Women in Politics Leadership Certification. Leadership requires participation. These leaders participate in local politics through volunteerism with a variety of nonprofits, with candidates, with the political party of their choice, and with IWP. They hold positions of prestige in administration for elected and appointed officials and indeed, are elected and appointed leaders themselves. Each of these women has success stories to share; in addition to the leaders listed above we proudly recognize the achievements of the following IWP Certified Leaders: Nancy Hagman, Elizabeth Hewey, Jacqueline Rogers, Monica Sanford as well as all former board members of IWP: Kimberly Aguiar, Sharie Bourbeau, Blair V. Castro, Gretchen Clarke, Amanda Bowden Combs, Dr. Jenna Emery, Rosalind Fisher, Rachael Gillette, Jules Kariher, Kim Kirschenfeld, Diane Mack, Meghan McCarthy, Amy Miller, Marsha Noller, Lorraine Ogan, Chuntell Patterson, Stephanie Powell, and Anny Shepard. These ladies were formally honored at our Annual Meeting on June 27th. Three categories of achievement were also recognized at the business meeting kicked-off by UWF President, Dr. Martha Saunders. Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Kara Luckett for service above and beyond in designing and implementing an all new website. Check it out at https://www.iwpflorida.org/. Best Participation Award was granted to Hannah Ritz for hosting a lecture providing an insider’s look at the National Flight Academy and myriad other events with which she assisted. We also recognized the dedicated work of our outgoing president, Amy Miller.
Finally, our first, and we expect annual award to an outstanding woman in the community, the Fannie Salmons Award was presented. The award is aptly named after an inspirational woman as highlighted by Diane Mack’s PNJ Viewpoint of August 2, 2015, “In June 1924, just four years after women finally won the constitutional battle for the vote, 32-year-old Fannie Salmons, a reporter for the Pensacola News, became the first woman to run for office in Escambia County. She won against seven men for the then District 1 seat on the county commission and took office in January 1925.” It is fitting, that our 2019 Fannie Salmons Award recipient is Diane Mack, the first woman in Escambia County to found our organization. As Mrs. Mack retires from the Institute, we wish her well in her endeavors.
Diane, along with the founding board members, worked diligently for six years to attract women to politics and we will continue this work - and then some. Remember, extensive research indicates that when women share half the seats at the table problem solving becomes more inclusive and collaborative, the outcome focus becomes more win-win than competitive, the group itself is less prone to “groupthink” and is more civil in discourse. These are qualities for which we all should be striving, especially in today’s heated political environment. We look forward to this campaign season as some of our members get ready to run for office, knowing they will campaign with civility and honor. Any woman gearing up for an election is more than welcome to join to benefit from our campaign resources. We will be offering valuable classes in our monthly first Friday Lunch and Learns. See our website for the upcoming scheduling; https://www.iwpflorida.org/lunch-learns.
Women, let’s carry the torch of civility and pride in each other’s achievements. Women are accomplishing very much in our political environment. Let’s focus on our positive outcomes and spread the word that more women in politics is a great thing!
Myra Van Hoose is President of the Institute for Women in Politics of Northwest Florida
Special thanks to Pensacola News Journal for publishing this article.