• Wylecia Wiggs Harris
    Wylecia Wiggs Harris

    Dr. Harris Brings Extensive Executive Experience from American Nurses Association, American Heart Association

    Washington, D.C.  – The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) announced today that Wylecia Wiggs Harris has been named as its new executive director. Dr. Harris brings to the League many years of seasoned leadership experience, a passion for organizational development and a commitment to excellence. As executive director, Dr. Harris will be building on strategies and relationships that advance some of the most foundational political principles of our nation.

    Dr. Harris comes to the League after 11 years at the American Nurses Association Enterprise serving as chief operating officer for the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), and previously as chief of staff/special projects officer for the ANA. Among her most significant achievements at the ANA were the transformation of the association’s Race for Relevance, the launch of the Leadership Institute and the reorganization of the American Nurses Foundation. With more than 25 years of diverse association experience, Dr. Harris brings strong relationship management skills and a proven track record in successfully building and establishing organizations by providing leadership and vision for staff, volunteers and members.

    “I am thrilled that Wylecia will be bringing her talents and leadership acumen to the League of Women Voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Her considerable skills in guiding organizations and setting a strategic vision and roadmap for the future will be incredible assets to the League. Wylecia comes to the League at this exciting and important time as we celebrate 95 years and look toward our 2020 centennial. I am confident that with Wylecia at the helm, we will reach new heights.”

    “This position with the League of Women Voters means a great deal to me. It provides me with an opportunity to devote my leadership experiences to an organization whose mission closely aligns with my personal convictions. The League’s efforts to engage all voters has always been professionally inspiring to my work,” said Dr. Harris.

    Dr. Harris’s many executive achievements include serving as the executive director for both the Center for American Nurses and Sister to Sister – Everyone Has a Heart Foundation, a national organization supporting women’s health issues and heart disease education. She also served for 17 years with the American Heart Association in positions at the local, regional and national levels. In these roles, Dr. Harris used technology, communication and innovative approaches as the backbone for building or rebuilding successful educational and outreach programs.

    Dr. Harris is an active member of many professional organizations and boards, including the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the advisory committee of Capella University’s School of Public Health. Dr. Harris has authored columns for national publications, including American Nurse Today, ASAE Journal and The Nonprofit Quarterly.

    Dr. Harris holds a PhD in organizational development from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota; a master of management degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; and a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

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    The League of Women Voters is celebrating 95 years of Making Democracy Work® at every level of government. In 1920, the League was founded as an outgrowth of the movement that secured women the right to vote to help new voters engage with their government. Today the League empowers all voters to improve their local, state and national government. Learn more about the League of Women Voters and join our celebration!

  • Nancy E. Tate Leaves League after Fifteen Years at Helm

     Washington, D.C.  – The League of Women Voters announced today that executive director Nancy E. Tate would be leaving her position at the League in early September. A search for well-qualified and talented candidates who can build on Nancy’s achievements is in the final stages and an announcement is expected this fall.

    “Over the past 15 years, we’ve seen profound changes in the country and in the world that have impacted our electoral politics, our national and economic security, as well as the way in which people engage with each other in the civic arena,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Over that period of time, the League has been fortunate to have a creative and strategic executive director at the helm of the national office in Nancy Tate.”

    “Nancy has guided the staff and inspired the national Board to think and act strategically and lead us into the 21st Century,” MacNamara said. “From establishing VOTE411.org as the preeminent national online election resource to launching the League’s Public Advocacy for Voter Protection program working at the state level to remove barriers to underrepresented voters, Nancy’s leadership has been effective, forward-thinking and enabled the League’s impact to grow nationwide.”

    “As a League member and former local League president in Arlington, VA, it is, and has always been, a privilege to work for and with the best organization, leaders and volunteers in America,” said Tate. “I came to the League when the issues central to the organization’s mission were thrust onto the national stage following the 2000 election.  In the years since, we have mobilized our resources at the national, state and local levels to fight against voter suppression, excessive money in politics, partisan gerrymandering and other challenges and can claim some important successes. The challenges continue.  But I leave the organization knowing it will continue towards its goal of Making Democracy Work®, by keeping the power of our democracy in the hands of the people, and working to ensure our elections are fair, free and accessible to all eligible voters.”

    “I am proud of the role the League has played in improving our system of government, said Tate. “The sky is the limit for an organization like the League. We’ve grown our national network significantly over the last 15 years and continue as a vital force with nearly 800 Leagues in communities nationwide. As we have done since our founding, we have empowered millions of people to make their voices heard in the political process. And we stepped up, mobilizing our supporters to take action on the critical issues of voter suppression, money in politics, climate change, clean air, healthcare reform, and others.  We have a great deal to be proud of and so much more to do as we approach the 100th anniversary of the organization in 2020,” Tate said.

    “We are incredibly grateful for Nancy’s leadership and the many achievements throughout her tenure, and hope that there may be other ways to engage her with the work of the LWVUS in the future,” concluded MacNamara. “This year, the League of Women Voters proudly celebrates our 95th birthday as a stronger, forward-facing organization, and much of that is due to the leadership of Nancy Tate.”

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

     “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  • Washington, DC - The following is a statement on the death of civil rights leader Julian Bond by Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.:

    “The League of Women Voters is truly saddened by the death of Julian Bond, a life-long champion of justice and equality and a devoted and energetic leader for civil rights in America. His passion and voice will be sorely missed. The League is committed to honoring his legacy in our ongoing work to keep our elections free, fair and accessible for every eligible voter.”

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

     “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  • Calls for Restoration of Historic Legislation Sound Nationwide; President Obama Backs National Voter Registration Day

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters added their voice to those sounding nationwide, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

    “The Voting Rights Act (VRA) is one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “The VRA ensures the right to vote of every eligible American regardless of race, ethnicity or language and protects against election laws and practices that have disparate impact on groups of voters, whether state and local officials intended that impact or not.”

    “The most significant provisions of the VRA were Sections 4 and 5 which created criteria for requiring federal oversight of states and localities based on patterns of discriminatory practices,” MacNamara said. “Two years ago, however, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Section 4 criteria unconstitutional, effectively gutting the Section 5 preclearance structure in Shelby County v. Holder.”

    “The almost immediate result of the Shelby County v. Holder decision was passage or implementation of laws that would not have been pre-cleared under Section 5,” said MacNamara. “North Carolina was one of the first states to take advantage, passing one of the nation’s most restrictive election laws. The North Carolina League was there to fight back and is now awaiting a decision on their lawsuit challenging the omnibus election ‘reform’ bill.”

    “We are thrilled to hear President Obama today call for restoration of the VRA and also urging eligible Americans to be sure they are registered to vote,” MacNamara said. “For democracy to work best, we need everyone to weigh in. As one of the founding organizations behind National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), hearing the President proclaim September 22nd as the day this fall that we will fan out to get people registered is energizing. Voter empowerment is what we have been doing for nearly 100 years and NVRD is the front door to participation for thousands of eligible voters.”

    “On this day there is good news: Congress can fix the Voting Rights Act to restore voter protections the Supreme Court stripped away,” concluded MacNamara. “The League has been a vocal supporter of provisions currently pending that would repair the VRA but we need to keep up the pressure and get the word out that the vote is our most fundamental right. To deny it to any eligible voter is wrong.”

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

     “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  • EPA Plan Sets First National Standards Limiting Carbon Pollution

    Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) unveiled its long-awaited Clean Power Plan (CPP). Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., issued the following statement praising the plan:

    “We are very pleased with the announcement of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The plan is the first set of national standards limiting carbon pollution and experts agree that this plan will improve public health while saving lives, creating jobs and protecting our environment.

    “The Clean Power Plan is the fulfillment of a promise to the American people and the nations of the world. U.S. leadership on climate change provides the world with its best opportunity to establish a strong international climate agreement as we move towards the next UN Climate Change Conference later this year in Paris.

    “Power plants are the number one contributor to carbon pollution. The single largest contributor to climate change is carbon pollution. The CPP is an aggressive, forward-looking regulation that will help in the fight against climate change and protect public health.

    “The League of Women Voters has been a leading advocate for these regulations for years and it's exciting to see these important environmental protections being introduced.

    “But this is just the beginning of our work. Now we will all need to roll up our sleeves to ensure the effective state implementation of this national plan. This rule will be the most successful when states follow the building blocks laid out by the EPA to bring their own emissions down.

    “Today is an important day in the fight against climate change and for the future of our nation. The Clean Power Plan means stronger public health, a thriving economy and an environment protected from the dangerous effects of carbon pollution and climate change,” concluded MacNamara.

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

    “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  •  Supreme Court Backs Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

    Washington, DC – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was a big victory for citizen-led democracy, ruling that independent redistricting commissions set up by voters are constitutional. The decision maintains the Arizona system put in place in 2000 by voters through a ballot initiative, as well as California’s system, which was also put in place directly through the initiative process. 

    “This is a tremendous victory for democracy,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Today’s decision reinforces a key principle in redistricting reform:  that voters should choose their representatives rather than letting politicians choose their voters. Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts is too important to leave to politicians,” she said. 

    “This decision is all the more important because partisan gerrymandering has reached dangerous levels across the nation,” MacNamara said. “Its harmful effects are not hard to find: the practice undermines the concept of majority rule, reduces the competitiveness of elections, and contributes to the political polarization that feeds gridlock.”

    “The Arizona legislature argued in this case that only they can conduct federal redistricting under the U.S. Constitution,” said MacNamara. “Today, the Court rejected that argument, reasoning that the initiative power of the people of Arizona was a valid exercise of legislative power.”

    “With the Arizona opinion, independent redistricting commissions are reinforced as an important process by which the voters can protect themselves and their state from excessive partisan gerrymandering,” said MacNamara. “We will continue to work at the state and national levels to pursue reforms through legislative action, constitutional amendment or citizen initiative,” she said.

    The League of Women Voters of the U.S. joined with other concerned organizations in an amicus brief in this case arguing that the Court had already ruled that excessive partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. The Leagues of Women Voters of Arizona and Illinois also joined amicus briefs in this case.

    “Today, the highest court in the nation strengthened the power of the people to protect themselves from excessive partisan influence and incumbency protection in redistricting,” concluded MacNamara. “This is a great for democracy and for those that believe in fair, effective representation for all.”

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

     “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  • Federal Tax Subsidies Upheld in King v. Burwell Decision

    Washington, DC – In the closely-watched case of King v. Burwell, today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tax credits can be provided to individuals who purchase health insurance on a federally-operated exchange. The outcome of this case held enormous ramifications for the viability of the health care systems established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.

    “Today’s decision is significant for all Americans because the very existence of the system of health exchanges was at stake,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “The tax credits that were at risk in this case are at the heart of the ACA and without them, the entire system could unravel.”

    “While this is a big victory for all Americans, it is a particularly important win for women,” MacNamara said. “Women have long battled relentless obstacles in obtaining comprehensive, affordable health coverage and, historically, women are substantially more likely to opt-out of health care because of the high costs.”

    The League joined an amicus brief in King v. Burwell that focused on the impact of the ACA on women's health, and how the tax subsidies are essential to women's health and critical to the ACA's continued viability. 

    “Recent data shows just how vital many of the ACA’s key provisions have been for women. Over nine million women are eligible for the credits. Ending ‘gender-rating’ and requiring health plans to cover maternity care and preventive services to women are two of the life-saving reforms in the ACA for women. In 2014, women made up the majority of enrollees in federally-facilitated exchanges using the tax credits to buy coverage,” MacNamara said.

    “The ACA has been a transformative law for our country,” concluded MacNamara. “It has helped bring us closer to where we should be: a nation that ensures access to affordable, quality health care for all. Today’s decision reinforces the bedrock of our nation’s health care system.”

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      Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

     “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  • New Bill Embodies Renewed Effort to Restore Voting Rights Act of 1965

    Washington, D.C.  – Today, on the eve of the second anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder U.S. Supreme Court decision that gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), bicameral legislation was introduced to renew a nearly two-year effort to restore the historic law and its vital voter protections. The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 was introduced this morning by Senators Leahy, Durbin and Coons and Representatives Lewis, Sewell, Sanchez, and Chu.

    “We are very pleased that new legislation has been introduced in both houses of Congress,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “This is an important step but there is so much more work to be done with the 2016 elections are quickly approaching.”

    “In the past two years, Congress has done nothing to repair the damage to the VRA inflicted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby decision,” MacNamara said.

    “As a result of this inaction, there has been more voter discrimination taking place at ballot boxes across the nation and we are getting dangerously close to having our first presidential election in 50 years without the critical protections once embodied in the VRA.”

    “The League has been standing its ground on the fight against discrimination and for voting rights protections for 95 years,” said MacNamara. “Barriers to the ballot box may look different than when the League was founded, but discrimination continues and must be stopped. Every day the League is Making Democracy Work® by doing what we can to keep our elections fair, free and accessible. And tomorrow we will do just that as we join with voters in Roanoke, VA to rally for voting rights on the second anniversary of the Shelby decision.”

    “Each and every eligible American voter deserves to be treated fairly at the ballot box. For nearly two years Americans have lived without some of the most basic yet important protections afforded to their right to vote,” concluded MacNamara. “Many of us hope that what happened today in Congress will act as a rallying cry for those who believe in free and fair access by every eligible voter.”

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

     “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  • Upholds State Bans on Judicial Campaign Solicitations, Fortifies Judicial Independence

    Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an important campaign finance case Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, upholding a state ban on direct campaign solicitations by judicial candidates.

    “The 5-4 decision in this case is a victory for the voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS). “Twenty-nine states have laws similar to the Florida ban. The court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, found the Florida ban to be constitutional because it increases the public’s confidence and trust in judicial candidates.”

    The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of Florida joined an amicus brief on Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, focusing on the constitutionality of a state prohibition on the direct solicitation of campaign donations by candidates for judicial office. The brief argued in favor of the prohibition because the public must have confidence in the independence and impartiality of judges.

    “The League has been a leader in seeking campaign finance reform at the state, local and federal levels for more than three decades. The League joined in this case to further the simple goal of protecting government that is transparent and accountable to voters.” MacNamara said.

    “The court’s decision in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar is an important step toward that goal,” concluded MacNamara.

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

     “Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

  • Washington, DC - “We are pleased that today the U.S. Senate was unable to override the President’s veto on the Keystone XL pipeline legislation,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.

    “The Keystone XL pipeline is not in the best interests of our nation,” said MacNamara. “It is unsound energy policy: It threatens the safety of our drinking water and increases greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.”

    “It was necessary to veto this legislation and stop the construction of the pipeline in order to protect the health of Americans and the health of our planet,” MacNamara said. Earlier this week the League thanked the President for using the veto on this misguided legislation.

    “Congress was taking inappropriate steps to override the executive review process. This process has been in place for decades under administrations of both political parties. It is the job of the executive branch to finalize the pipeline permit. We hope that President Obama will side with the thousands of League activists who have urged him to take the next historic step in this process and fully reject the pipeline after a complete review is finalized by the State Department.”

    “The Keystone XL Pipeline is all risk and no reward,” MacNamara said. “It is time to end our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels at the expense of the health and well-being of Americans and our environment.”

    “President Obama: Put people not polluters at the center of this vital decision,” concluded MacNamara.

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

    Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

    The League of Women Voters is celebrating 95 years of Making Democracy Work® at every level of government. In 1920, the League was founded as an outgrowth of the movement that secured women the right to vote to help new voters engage with their government. Today the League empowers all voters to improve their local, state and national government. Learn more about the League of Women Voters and join our celebration!

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