It was during my last semester of graduate school when I was first introduced to the League through a 60 Minutes special about the history of the US presidential debates. As a I sat in class, I remember thinking two things: 1) how infuriated I was that the debates were allowed to be overrun by both political parties and the TV networks and 2) how incredibly proud I was that the League stood up to these self-interested superpowers. As I watched the national League’s president tell the media and country that the debates’ integrity was being compromised, I was intrigued that a group of women were the central champions of what should have been and continue to be a fair and honest debating process, and that at the core of this debate was the country’s right to hear what the candidates believe without manipulation and filters.
At the time I also had no idea the League was still well alive and kicking. It wasn’t until I saw the San Francisco League’s name on a board volunteer recruiting list that I was aware that the League was active and right away I knew that I wanted to join the ranks. Currently I serve as board secretary, manage grants and donor cultivation, and have been involved in the vote-by-mail study committee. After almost two years of serving on the Board, I’m truly blown away by the amazing energy and care my Board peers, staff and members give to make our work possible.
The single most important lesson the League has taught me is that our democracy is not a done deal and, above all, it is not a static process. Political systems will sometimes have weak links or poor processes in place, but it is through the strong will and stewardship of individual citizens that we make our system accountable to our democratic principles. I believe Eleanor Roosevelt beautifully summed up this same sentiment, when she said, “Democracy requires both discipline and hard work. It is not easy for individuals to govern themselves. . . It is one thing to gain freedom, but no one can give you the right to self-government. This you must earn for yourself by long discipline.”
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