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January Newsletter  - Volume 4, Issue 4



Upcoming WDC Events

Upcoming Co-Sponsored Events

Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW) 2014 Legislative Reception and Briefing

Montgomery County Democratic Party's Annual Brunch  

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Speaks Out at the WDC Year End Reception

Alison Stewart's Story Of Dunbar: A School Created To "Keep Apluggin' Away"  

The 2014 Women's Legislative Briefing   

New Newsletter Feature - INTERVIEW  

Social Media Update --- We're on Twitter! 

Political Book Club

Volunteers: It Takes a Village 

Suggestion Box 


You may click on one of the above titles to go directly to that subject, or simply scroll down the newsletter.     


Thanks to Sybil Cantor, Teddi Pensinger, Bonnie Wicklund, Carmela Cowgill, Stacey Maud, Linda Kolko, Janet Lowenthal, and Joyce Lipman for their contributions to this newsletter.





Mark your calendars now for these upcoming events. For more information on locations and registration, watch for future e-mails and daisy cards - or visit our website at www.womansdemocraticclub.org.   

Thursday, February 13                  

Happy Hour     Coctail

5:30-7 p.m.  

Lebanese Taverna

7141 Arlington Road, Bethesda


Want to meet new people and talk politics?  Join us at the next WDC Happy Hour. Every second Thursday of each month, Democrats who are passionate about politics gather to relax and network with WDC members and their guests. Whether you want to meet elected officials, make new friends, form new business contacts or just have fun, the WDC Happy Hour is the perfect place to meet and greet fellow Democrats.    



Wednesday, February 26


WDC Monthly Luncheon featuring Dennis Ross, Middle East Expert Dennis Ross

12:00 Noon

Details on location and registration information coming soon. 


Ambassador Dennis Ross is Counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, having recently returned to the Institute after serving two years as Special Assistant to President Obama and National Security Council Senior Director for the Central Region, and a year as Special Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton focusing on Iran.  For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process and dealing directly with the parties in negotiations. A highly skilled diplomat, Ambassador Ross was the U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He was instrumental in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to reach the 1995 Interim Agreement; he also successfully brokered the 1997 Hebron Accord, facilitated the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and intensively worked to bring Israel and Syria together.  Ambassador Ross is the author of several influential books on the peace process.  He was awarded the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President Clinton, and Secretaries Baker and Albright presented him with the State Department's highest award.



Friday, February 28  


Library of Congress Library of Congress Tour

Jefferson Building on Capitol Hill  

Time: Meet at 10: 30 a.m. for 11:00 am tour, followed by pre-ordered box lunch ($13) 

Limited: 40 participants, WDC Members Only


If you've never been inside the Library of Congress's Jefferson Building, oh what you've been missing! Built in the 1890's, it is one of the most gorgeous buildings in Washington.  Although its primary mission is to serve Congress, the Library of Congress is also the largest library in the world and a major research institution. Transportation: participants should plan to use Metro.


MORE DETAILS COMING. In the meantime, you might want to check out www.loc.gov for some interesting facts about the Library.







Tuesday, February 4   


Article2.1Maryland Legislative Agenda For Women (MLAW) 2014 Legislative Reception And Briefing 

4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

President's Conference Center West, Miller Senate Office Building,  

1 Bladen St., Annapolis

The Maryland legislature is now in session! Want the inside scoop on what's on their 2014 Legislative Agenda? Here's your chance to meet with your legislators to discuss women's issues. It's even FREE but you must register. Spaces are limited. Hurry! Hurry! Click here to register. Please be sure to bring a photo identification in order to enter the Senate building. You'll find several parking garages near the Senate building, as well as metered parking throughout Annapolis. You also may park at Navy Stadium and take the shuttle to the Miller Senate Office Building.  For more information, email mdlegagenda4women@yahoo.com or call 443-519-1005.




Sunday, February 23


Brunch Article2.2Montgomery County Democratic Party's Annual Brunch

12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The Bolger Center

9600 Newbridge Drive, Potomac


It's time to celebrate what we've accomplished and gear up for the 2014 campaign. What better place to do that than at the Annual Democratic County Brunch?  For more information and to make a reservation, please click here.





                                                                                                                by Stacey Maud


"Your Voice Matters - Your Vote Matters," was the title of Senator Kirsten Gillbrand's talk as she took the microphone at the WDC reception on December 15th in Chevy Chase - an apt title from a woman described by the New York Times as "a quiet touch of revolution".

In the short time since filling Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat, the Senator has been a veritable tour de force in equality and ethics policy pushing forward the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in her first term, and being lead sponsor for the Respect for Marriage Act that would repeal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) in 2011. Also on her Washington agenda has been The Stock Act, to make insider trading by members of Congress illegal, the Voter Empowerment Act and combatting sexual assault in the military.  


With only 20 women in the Senate and 18% in the House, Gillibrand emphasizes the importance of having more women in our legislative bodies.  She believes that women enhance the mix with innate qualities of getting things done, good listening skills, and finding common ground. "It's a combination of male and female voices that produce better outcomes," she said. 


"My grandmother was a secretary in the state legislature," she recalls, "at that time, women were support, they had a say in politics by being active in local issues and grassroots activities. I learned at her knee, and this is what has given me my perspective and life experience."  She stressed that women are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and hopes to get more women interested in politics, in turning out the vote and raising money.  


"Off The Sidelines" is Gillibrand's women's recruitment forum and call to action to make our voices heard on issues we care about.  She said that in the United States only 3% of CEO's and 16% of board members are women. "Research has shown that with only one woman on a corporate board, the company is 40% less likely to have to restate their earnings," she said.    


In 2012, Senator Gillibrand became the first Senator in history to publish her personal tax returns for every year she has served in office. She has established the Sunlight Foundation to forward transparency in Washington.


Concluding the talk, the Senator fielded questions on hot-button issues.  


Responding to the impact of the budget agreement, she stressed that it was a limited deal and would have a negative impact on families in New York and other States, but that it shows a small measure of bipartisanship that will hopefully lead the way for Immigration Reform, Energy and Education.


Fielding a question on gun violence, she said that this issue had been her biggest disappointment in her time in the Senate.  She spoke about three upcoming pieces of legislation she hopes will pave the way for future success coupled with State-by-State efforts:  

1.      Investment in the Mental Health Act which she says has good bipartisan support and a good chance at success;

2.       Anti-Trafficking legislation which seeks to curb the movement of guns across State lines. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 guns used in crimes come from other States, particularly Southern ones;

3.      Background Check Bill - she hopes this legislation will get more Democratic support once it is redrafted with new wording and reintroduced.


On the Nuclear Option invoked this year to stop Senate filibusters on Executive appointments, Gillibrand said, "The President has a right to have a Cabinet in place and to appoint his judges.  The Nuclear Option was necessary to fix a broken Senate.  We will get all the President's nominations through."


Wrapping up with a final question on sexual abuse in the military, a cause the Senator has championed, Gillibrand recounted some of the shocking and often heart-breaking stories which victims had shared with her. "These are brutal crimes of dominance," she said.  In a quarter of cases a commander is involved.  Gillibrand shared some of the statistics and hurdles saying that the fear of doing nothing and of retaliation means that only 3,000 cases of an estimated 26,000 are reported.  Approximately 13,000 of these cases are young men, where only one in ten is likely to report.  There is a 60% chance of retaliation if a victim reports the crime.  Most cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in women in the military are a result of sexual violence.  She went on to mention that military recognition and medals elude women as they are given mostly for combat, but how this will change.


The Senator's Military Justice Improvement Act will be voted on in January 2014.  She says that she has 43 of the 53 Democrats, and 10 Republicans, needing only a few more votes for it to pass. 




                                                                               by Janet Lowenthal and Joyce Lipman



Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of over 80 Women's Democratic Club members and guests, broadcast journalist Alison Stewart told us that it took her seven years to write First Class, her book about Dunbar High School. This story was bred into her. While she was growing up, her alumni parents told her repeatedly about the high standards and fine education they had received there. But to her surprise she found that many people, particularly young people, never knew the story of Dunbar. Afraid the story might get lost, especially with older graduates now in their eighties, she determined to write it down.  


As she approached the task, how, she asked herself, do you tell a story that is not about a person, but about a thing? Dunbar, however, does have a soul - and that makes it a living, breathing thing. Thus Stewart's book became the "biography of a school," telling a story of education and history and race - as well as of access and opportunity. This was a school distinguished in its prime for three key ingredients: excellent teachers, a caring community, and high expectations for students.    


Stewart then offered us a detailed history of the school, beginning with its origins in 1870 as a private school begun by feminist/abolitionist Myrtilla Miner. Miner's aim was to teach those black men and women who themselves would go on to teach others. Although at this time it was still illegal throughout the South to teach blacks to read, this was not the case in Washington, D.C.  So the city became the nucleus for attracting well-educated blacks.  


Thus Dunbar's faculty featured a Who's Who of academic superstars. The school also maintained high standards for behavior and appearance, all of which were codified in a guidebook distributed to all entering students. Stewart gave some examples of these guidelines, having to do with dress code, behavior at dances, and how to conduct oneself on the street. This Guidebook was, in effect, instructing students in a way of life that prepared them to enter a hostile world-one so hostile that when black Dunbar students outscored whites in DC, a fight ensued over keeping the current principal at the school.  


After "colored" children had been schooled for years at a cramped facility on M Street, the need for a permanent academic base for DC's black children became clear, so in 1916 Dunbar was born as the first black high school in the country. Its motto was taken from a poem by the school's namesake, Paul Lawrence Dunbar: "Keep Apluggin' Away."  


Graduates like legal great Charles Hamilton Houston, Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, and Dr. James Bowman (Valerie Jarrett's father) were taught that "you CAN compete successfully with anyone in this society - and you must use your education for the benefit of others as well."


In 1954, following the desegregation ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, Dunbar changed from being a magnet school to being a neighborhood school. Over the next few decades, it was then beset with all the same problems that afflicted most other neighborhood schools throughout the city. Then this past September, Dunbar High was rebuilt as a new $122 million state-of-the-art school. Supporters have high hopes that Dunbar will once again be able to reclaim its high standards and prominent position, but, admittedly, "a building can do only so much." For this school to really reach its potential, a great deal of work still needs to be done. 


During the question period, Stewart was asked about the recent article in The Washington Post, which discussed the efforts of some alumni and parents to make Dunbar an application-only school. Stewart expressed sympathy for this approach. Because change happens one person at a time, and Dunbar is so special, she likes the idea of motivation as a vehicle to lift people up.  


Asked what was the most important thing she learned, Stewart said she was really impressed by the lack of bitterness in the Dunbar alumni she interviewed. She was also absolutely blown away by what she learned, in the process of her research, about the prevalence of racial covenants throughout the Washington area -- even in relatively recent history.  



Alison Stewart signing books with WDC members Vivian Lewis, Rosie Engman, guests Michele Morgan, Carrie Thornhill and WDC President Beth Tomasella.
District 20 candidates Darian Unger, D'Juan Hopewell, WDC Vice President Linda Kolka, District 20 candidate Justin Chappell and guest Michele Morgan.


WDC Table at Women's Legislative Briefing 


The Montgomery County Commission for Women held it's 34th annual Women's Legislative Briefing Sunday, January 26 at the Universities at Shady Grove.  Over 650 people attended the event, which was co-sponsored by more than 70 women's and community organizations including WDC which was also an exhibitor at the event. The briefing featured keynote speaker Joanne Bamberger, author of, Mothers of Intention: How Women & Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. Elected officials, candidates, women's organization, reporters and activists were all on hand to hear about upcoming 2014 legislation that affects women. Trending policy included: raising the minimum wage, paid sick leave, the Affordable Care Act, and child care. The program included a panel discussion addressing issues for women in elected office with panelists Montgomery County Councilwomen Nancy Navarro and Nancy Floreen, former Councilmember Valerie Ervin and Prince George's County Councilwoman Ingrid Turner  Other elected officials who participated in the briefing included Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett; Senator Ben Cardin; and Congressmen Chris Van Hollen, John Sarbanes and John Delaney and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. The event also offered seminars on a variety of topics, including:  Effective Legislative Advocacy; A Briefing on the Health Care Reform Act; Advocating for Older Women's Issues; Women in the Public Realm; Work and Women; Women, Families and Poverty; and Safety, Justice and Human Rights  The three panelists for the workshop on Women's Health Issues were WDC members:  Delegate Ariana Kelly, Leni Preston, Chair, Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform, and our WDC president Beth Tomasello, Director of Advancement & Strategic Initiatives, Sister to Sister; The Women's Heart Health Foundation. There were also two special workshops for teenaged girls focusing on leadership, community engagement and social media, a new feature of this year's briefing.

We were pleased to see so many WDC members in attendance.     




WDC Members with D18 Candidate Elizabeth Matory 


WDC Members with D16 Candidate Hyrant Jamgochian 






WDC Members and Volunteers at Women's Legislative Briefing



INTERVIEW edited by Bonnie Wicklund


Judith Heimann


WDC's treasurer grew up in Frankfurt, Germany, and came to the United States in 1947.  She went to Tucson, where her mother lived, and attended the University of Arizona, graduating in 1950 with a degree in bacteriology and a minor in chemistry.  Her career in science was "sidetracked" by children: a son, born in California, where she lived for seven years, and a daughter who was born after Judith's arrival in the Washington area in 1959.  She began a second career when she joined the League of Women Voters, from which she gained a complete governmental and political education.  President of the local League from 1968-1972, she went on to serve on the Maryland state board of the League, and later served on the national board.  As an officer n the non-partisan League, she was not able to participate in politics.  After leaving the national board of the League in 1978, however, she became active in Democratic politics, and volunteered in various campaigns.  In 1979 she went to work as a legislative aide to the Montgomery County Board of Education for two years, followed by eight years on the Planning Board.  From 1989-1997 she served as chair of the Montgomery County Board of Appeals.  Judith joined the WSDC in 1983, and within a couple of years began serving on the board in many ways.  She enjoys being treasurer more than any other job because "it is precise and defined work, it keeps me busy,and now is much easier on the computer."



I just finished reading Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a novel translated from the Spanish, set in 1945 Barcelona.  I like history and historical fiction, especially books about the Elizabethan period in England, like Wolf Hall, a novel about Thomas Cromwell.  For many years I've been taking classes for seniors through American University and Johns Hopkins, mainly history--especially American history, because, of course, that was missing from my education in Europe.  I also took a class in mystery books for fun.



I like going to see movies, and justrecently saw two, both good: "Philomena,"  and "American Hustle."


"Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR I listen to every day.  For music I tune to WBJC Baltimore and WETA, both classical music stations.  



I used to go to Europe once a year, not so much any more.  My entire family has been going to the beach every summer; usually there are 11 of us, but sometimes my niece and nephew and their kids come from Europe, which makes us 17.  This has brought all the kids close, and they stay in touch throughout the year.



These days I find Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, fascinating to watch because she is a physicist and approaches everything analytically.  There is a new biography, The First Life of Angela M, which I intend to read. 



I was thrilled with Barack Obama--his inauguration a high point--but now I'm a little disappointed.



Income inequality is the most pressing issue of our time. The poverty that still exists is terrible, and one of these days, people will not stand for it.   Foreign policy is very important, too, but I'm not sure we can ever solve the Middle East problem because we don't understand it--we don't understand the tribal mentality, it is so foreign to our way of thinking. 







WDC has a Twitter account!  Our Twitter handle is @WomenDems.  Be sure and follow us!  


Don't forget to like us on Facebook; we're listed as Woman's Democratic Club, Montgomery County.



The next meeting will be on March 19th at the home of Melpi Jeffries.  The book selection is The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military by Rawn James Jr, the son and grandson of African American veterans.  Mr. James narrates the remarkable history of how the struggles for equality in the military helped give rise to their fight for equality in civilian society. 

On May 21st the book selection is The Bully Pulpit
: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin. She analyzes the friendship between Roosevelt and Taft, which first made for a powerful partnership but then dissolved with disastrous consequences for both. She also describes how journalism can capture the public's imagination and help shape the national agenda.

The book club meets the third Wednesday of every other month at members' homes. A facilitator leads the discussion for each book. Want to join the conversation? New members are always welcome! For more information, contact Estelle Stone at estellestone24@gmail.com.


If you're interested in seeing what other books have been discussed, please go to www.womansdemocraticclub.org and click on Political Book Club, which is listed under Events.  




 Help Wanted

 We need your help creating a vibrant Club and we solicit your ideas and participation. And the most valuable contribution you can make to the Club is - you guessed it - your time. Sharing your skills and expertise with us and joining a committee are fun ways to meet other members and make new friends while helping the Club accomplish its goals.


WDC is looking for members to help on the Communications Committee and on the Membership and Outreach Committee.  We especially need writers and photographers for our events .  Want more information?  Email Carmela Cowgill at cacowgill@yahoo.com.  You can also go to www.womansdemocraticclub.org and click on "Get Involved" then   "Volunteer" to complete the volunteer form.




Suggestion Box  

Do you have ideas for future programs? Do you know someone who would be a great speaker at a future WDC event?  If so, please send an e-mail to wdcmcmd@gmail.com.






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Woman's Democratic Club
Beth Tomasello.President
www.womansdemocraticclub.org     wdcmcmd@gmail.com
Woman's Democratic Club
Sybil Cantor
Email Coordinator