Goal: The goal of the League of Women Voters is to empower citizens to shape better communities world wide.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political membership organization which:
- Acts after study and member agreement to achieve solutions in the public interest on key community issues at all government levels.
- Builds citizen participation in the democratic process.
- Engages communities in promoting positive policy issues through education and advocacy.
The League of Women Voters Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) citizen education organization that helps people, in the United States and abroad, to thoughtfully engage in the democratic process. This includes, but is not limited to, providing information about elections and the voting process.
We believe in:
- Respect for individuals.
- The value of diversity.
- The empowerment of the grassroots, both within the League and in communities.
- The power of collective decision-making for the common good.
- Act with trust, integrity and professionalism.
- Operate in an open and effective manner to meet the needs of those we serve, both members and the public.
- Take the initiative in seeking diversity in membership and programs.
- Acknowledge our heritage as we seek our path to the future.
- The City of Portland recognized the anniversary by proclaiming February 13, 2010, LWV Making Democracy Work Day (PDF, 535 KB).
- The Portland 90th LWV Anniversary Celebration took place at a brunch buffet on Saturday, February 13. Jane Cease, former Portland LWV President and Oregon State Senator, and Norman Turrill, current LWVUS Board Member, were our keynote speakers. Read more about the event. Thank you to all who helped make it such a rousing success!
Oregon Key Player at LWV Founding
In February 1920, after a 72-year struggle, passage of the 19th Amendment appeared to be imminent, and members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association met in Chicago to form the National League of Women Voters. From the start, the nonpartisan organization had a dual purpose: “To foster education in citizenship and to support improved legislation.” Today these two purposes of education and advocacy are still central to the LWV mission to “encourage informed and active participation in government.”
Several Oregon women were among the 2000 delegates to the NAWSA Convention where the League of Women Voters was formed. One of them was Effie Simmons (Mrs. C.B. Simmons) who then became a member of the first board of directors of the National League of Women Voters and the regional director for the LWV in the states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Mrs. Simmons came back to Oregon to form the “Oregon Branch of the National League of Women Voters” in Portland in March 1920.
On August 28, 1920, Mrs. Simmons presided at the “victory luncheon” in the Benson Hotel celebrating the final ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Oregon had been the 25th state to ratify the amendment in January 1920, but final ratification occurred on August 26. It is also noteworthy that in 1923, Mrs. Simmons was the first woman elected to the Oregon Legislature from Multnomah County.
At the start, Effie Simmons wanted to leave the word “Women” out of the name of the organization. Many men supported the suffragists in the early days of the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, and men continued to be supportive of the LWV over the years. Although the name “Women Voters” was retained, the LWV invited men to join the organization in 1973, and their numbers continue to increase. Norman Turrill who spoke at the Portland 90th Anniversary Celebration, is the first man elected to the Board of Directors of the national LWV, although many men have served and are currently serving on local and state LWV boards. Currently, Mr. Turrill is the only LWV member from Oregon on the national LWV Board.
LWV Story Continues Today and into the Future
Today, the LWV works to effect change on a wide variety of issues in the areas of Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources and Social Policy. The League of Women Voters of Portland’s efforts to educate and engage the public include publishing the Directory of Elected Officials and a well-known nonpartisan, Voters’ Guide with impartial, balanced information about candidates and ballot measures.
The League hosts speakers who address topics of local, state, and national concern. Recent speaking events include a discussion of Oregon’s state budget by George Naughton, Director of the Budget and Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services, and Steven Novick of Defend Oregon; a discussion of the newly formed Portland Housing Bureau by its Director, Margaret Van Vliet; and a spirited debate of Oregon ballot measures 66 and 67 between Bernie Bottomly, the Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Development of the Portland Business Alliance, and Steven Novick.
The Portland League’s Action Committee monitors issues of local concern including urban renewal development. The League also participates in community efforts to create and monitor a civilian oversight system for handling citizen complaints of police conduct. The League of Women Voters of Portland is one of more than 800 local Leagues in cities and towns all over the United States.
The nonpartisan LWV never supports or opposes candidates or parties, but the LWV is political and sometimes takes stands on issues. These stands are based on positions which are the result of intensive study, discussion of the pros and cons, and, eventually, member consensus, all at the grassroots level. These positions are the basis for advocacy of the government at the national, state, and local levels. On the other hand, publications like the LWV Voters’ Guide are produced by its Education Fund and are strictly informative and impartial.
As the organization celebrates its 90th anniversary, it has much to look back upon, but the work is not yet complete and there is much to look forward to. The LWV continues to work towards meaningful citizen participation in the government processes. League of Women Voters of Portland President, Betsy Pratt, says, “Because the need for civic education is as strong as ever, we are grateful for the volunteers and donors who make our work possible.”
All are welcome to join the LWV and become part of this respected and effective organization.
Fran Dyke, President
Fran moved to Portland from Eugene in 2012 after retiring from the University of Oregon as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration. Prior to joining the University as a budget analyst in 1991 she worked for both national and regional public accounting firms. Since moving from the east coast to Eugene in 1974 she has been actively involved in community and civic organizations and served in leadership positions in Planned Parenthood, local school organizations, Rotary, her church and a continuing care retirement community. She is active in the Portland City Club and served on the 2013 research committee for property tax reform and now the property tax reform advocacy committee. She and her husband Tom enjoy hiking, the Native Plant Society, book discussion and travel. They are fortunate to be in Portland with their adult daughter and son, their spouses and their children.
Debbie Kaye, 1st Vice President, Membership/Outreach
With an international relations degree from Brown University, Debbie first worked in the peace education field. She spent two years in Santiago, Chile, where she learned Spanish (with a strong Chilean accent!), worked as a buyer for a Brazilian department store, and traveled extensively in Latin America. Bracketing her Chilean experience, Debbie worked in finance leasing in San Francisco. Returning to her native Portland with her husband and two young sons in 1990, Debbie joined the League and also became deeply engaged at Catlin Gabel School where she chaired the alumni board and served on the board of trustees as well as parent groups. Volunteer coordination became her strength, first at Friendly House Preschool, and then for Catlin Gabel’s legendary rummage sale (1,000 volunteers!), Eliot Institute summer camp, and the 2008 LWVUS national convention. She has led the nominating process for several organizations. For the Portland League, Debbie was a unit leader for many years and now serves as Membership chair, and with Voter Service, coordinating the Speakers Bureau and moderating candidate and ballot measure forums. She enjoys gardening, a book group, singing, target shooting, and travel.
Peggy Bengry, 2nd Vice President, Voter Service
Peggy joined the League in 2008, shortly after retiring from IBM as a software engineer. Her interest in the League came from seeing the respect accorded Kappy Eaton at a hearing in Salem on preference voting and learning from Kappy’s testimony that LWVOR was doing a study on voting systems. Peggy volunteered to help with that study and, delighted with the talented, competent people she found in the League, went on to edit the Voters’ Guide. Peggy lives with her partner on their 82-acre farm in Yamhill County where she has planted 10 acres of hazelnuts. Farming, gardening and sewing are her favorite activities.
Margaret Noel, 3rd Vice President, Program
Margaret first became an active volunteer with the League of Women Voters of Portland in 1993. She served on the LWVPDX Board from 1994 to 1998, and was elected to the LWV of Oregon Board in 1997. She was LWVOR President 2003-2007 and LWVOR Nominating Committee Chair 2009-11. As a League member and officer, she has worked on Voter Service,Action, Nominating, Development, Budget and Study Committees. For the 2008 LWVUS Convention in Portland, she was Floor Committee Co-Chair. Professionally, Margaret worked as a middle-school science teacher and as a producer of educational audio-visual programs. Her husband Gordon is an emeritus professor of medicine at the Portland VA Hospital and OHSU. They have three daughters and four grandchildren. Margaret’s interests include running and walking, her dog, grandchildren, gardening, antiques and travel.
Anne Davidson, Secretary
I joined the Portland League of Women Voters shortly after we arrived in Portland 30+ years ago. Having moved from everyone I knew, I wanted to make sure that I continued to be in the company of smart, well-informed and interesting women. How right I was! Since then, I have served in a number of capacities including working on the newsletter, serving as Secretary, Board Treasurer and Endowment Fund Treasurer. My involvement tapered off as my two children were born and my role in our family business increased. My children are now out of the house and I hope to retire in the next year or so. So, I’m back and honored to serve as your Secretary and continue as the Endowment Fund Treasurer.
Paulette Meyer, Treasurer
Debbie Aiona, Action Chair
Debbie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and first joined the League in 1979 in Salt Lake City, UT. Other places where she was a member include Greenville, S.C., Lexington, KY and Portland. As a 25-year resident of Portland, she has held a number of positions in the local League including president. She now serves the organization as a board member and action committee chair. Issues on which she personally focuses include affordable housing, police oversight, campaign finance reform and urban renewal. In addition to her work on the LWV Portland board, she is a board member of the Coalition of Advocates for Equal Access for Girls, a statewide organization that works to ensure that girls receive equal access to all of the appropriate gender-specific support and services they need to help them develop to their full potential.
Amy Beltaine, Communications and Outreach
Amy first used technology to make connections for the Lewis and Clark College English department, using an Apple Macintosh in 1984! Outreach, or as Amy terms it, “relationship-building” requires skills she’s been developing as an entrepreneur. Her ministry “Listen to HeartSong”, supports people finding their spiritual direction, embracing their gifts, and serving the world. Amy serves as the president of the continent-wide organization “Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans”, and the webmaster for “UU Spiritual Director’s Network”. She grew up in the Willamette Valley with sojourns in Rhode Island and DC.; graduated with a Religious Studies degree from Lewis and Clark College which she parlayed into a Cornell University job teaching computer competency (irony intended.) 25 years later, with an MDiv. from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, she returned to her beloved Pacific NW to establish her ministry while continuing the family tradition of supporting the League of Women Voters. (Her sister Rebecca served many years as the State’s Office Manager.) Amy lives in S.E. with her spouse Hawthorne, son Corey, a beagle, and a cat. She travels frequently, in her portable home, visiting UU congregations throughout the west.
Doreen Binder (re)joined the League of Women Voters in 2014. She has spent more than 35 years advocating for the rights of women and children. Doreen served as Executive Director of the Coos Women’s Crisis Service for ten years before moving to Portland to work on the issue of housing and homelessness. She retired in 2015 after serving for twenty years as Executive Director of Transition Projects. She has served on numerous local, state and national boards and currently volunteers at Glenco Elementary School and at the Title Wave Library Book store. Doreen is originally from Chicago.
Marion McNamara, Voter Editor
Off Board Committee Leaders
Special Projects (Directory of Elected Officials, Other)
Website & Social Media
Kathleen Hersh, Liz Conroy-Yockim, Minda Seibert
Emily Medley, Office Manager