AAUW Rochester President’s Letter by Sara Staab


Happy New Year!
Lisa Maatz, National AAUW VP of Government Relations and Advocacy, has a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution – join the AAUW Action Network. Lisa reports that in 2016, the Network’s “Two Minute Activists” helped send more than 200,000 messages to state and federal legislators. AAUW Action Network supporters in all 50 states made their voices heard on AAUW’s priority issues, helping to contact all 435 U.S. House offices and 100 US Senate offices throughout the year. You can sign up to receive emails from the Action Network at

The emails make it easy to contact your Senator or Representative to voice opinions or request action on the issues relative to the mission of AAUW.

Locally, AAUW needs your help to fill positions on the branch board for 2017-2018.  A nominating committee will be working soon to find members to be on the slate for the election in April.  Please be open to serving on the nominating committee and/or the board.  Our branch is filled with wonderful women and we would love to have your talents, skills and voice on the board.

I’m looking forward to a great year of book group and foreign policy discussions, noon and evening meals, and interesting programs with our various branch groups and meetings.  These things and our support of community programs and the AAUW mission can only continue if people are willing to step up and lead.


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November 2016 AAUW President’s Letter by Sara Staab

I toured the Driehaus Museum in Chicago on October 8.  I enjoyed seeing a mansion from the Gilded Age, known at the time as “the marble palace.”  It is a beautiful, amazing place that was built after the great fire destroyed the city. There was a special exhibit in the museum of cartoons from a magazine called “Puck.”  It included some drawings related to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair and some related to “Women of Influence: Chicago’s Leading Ladies.”  The World’s Fair had a Woman’s Building designed by Boston architect Sophia Hayden.  The building was devoted to exhibits of women’s work and progress in arts and sciences.  The board of the building was chaired by socialite Bertha Palmer and included “female lawyers, doctors, farmers, social workers, and others.” They “met to discuss plans for improving pay and job opportunities for women.”

Another part of the exhibit at the Driehaus had photographs of influential Chicago women who were involved with the Woman’s World’s Fair in 1925.  According to the exhibit, the fair introduced “the emancipated woman to new and innovative career opportunities” – over 100 occupations were represented.  Some editorials at the time worried about feminist aspects of the organization and “hoped the women would not release their ‘hold on the home’.”  Fair chairman Louise de Koven Bowen replied that “women possess, as well as men, the energy, industry, and talent which… will fit them to rank with men in industry and the arts.”
So, we in AAUW continue the work of our female predecessors in Chicago…  Go to our national website (aauw.org) to learn about the 2016 update to AAUW’s research report “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap.”

I’m looking forward to seeing you at our November dinner meeting.  Bring items for the Silent Auction for the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund. And bring your checkbook, too!

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October 2016 President’s Letter by Sara Staab


From the national AAUW website: “when women vote, they can determine the outcome of an election.”

I have been known to nag my two children to be sure to register to vote when they were old enough, and every time they moved since then.  I admit to sending them emails or text messages prior to elections as a reminder of the importance of voting.  I also recall a sense of pride when they let me know they had voted on Election Day.  The rights we have as citizens of the U.S. seem to me to come with a responsibility to be informed and vote, whether it is a national, state or local election.  Everyone’s vote matters – remember the close vote totals in the Minnesota race for U.S. Senate a few years ago, and the occasional news stories that talk about elections that were ties decided by a coin toss or some other method….

The current election season may seem to be longer, nastier, crazier than any campaign any of us remember.  It may be tempting to tune it out, to try to ignore it.  I urge you to resist that temptation and challenge yourself to become more informed about the issues and the candidates at all levels.

Thanks to our Public Policy Chair, Marilyn Morem, for the following information:
AAUW national has a “Get Out the Vote” campaign underway including online training to encourage voter registration, voter education and turning out the voters. They have also provided a 2016 Voter Issue Guide on the internet with suggestions on what to listen for when you hear candidates speak and suggested questions for candidates that reflect the mission of AAUW. See http://www.aauw.org/resource/aauw-voter-issue-guide

On the local level, the Rochester chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) is planning to distribute a Voter Guide (VG) this fall.  The VG will contain responses to questions submitted to all those seeking a seat on the Rochester City Council or Olmsted County Commission.

If you need a break from the campaign coverage, maybe a nice fall drive would help – check out the fall color finder from the Minnesota DNR http://dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors/index.html

Sara Staab, Rochester MN President
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September 2016 AAUW President’s Letter by Sara Staab


Welcome to the new year in our branch of the AAUW! It’s hard to think about fall as I write this on a gorgeous August day. I hope you all have enjoyed a healthy, fun, relaxing summer and are ready to get busy in our many branch activities to socialize, learn, and support the AAUW mission of advancing equity for women and girls.

I am new in this office, and I look forward to having a lot of help from the board and branch members as I learn the job. I joined AAUW in 2009 when I moved back to Rochester 30 years after graduating from John Marshall. Becoming involved in book groups, Foreign Policy and on the board was a great way for me to meet people and make new friends when I moved back to my hometown.  I am a second generation member of this branch. Some of you know, and others may remember, my mother Sue Hippe, who was a member here for many years.

We are starting the new program year with an interesting look at the new proton therapy center at Mayo Clinic. There will also be information available on the branch interest groups. If anyone has an idea for a new group, please contact me or Interest Group Chair Joyce Wenz. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting on September 21.

Sara Staab, branch president



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April 2016 From the AAUW President Beth Nienow

I hope you are enjoying the convenience of having Highlights delivered directly to your email!  We are still learning the ins and outs of Mail Chimp, the free program we are using for the newsletter and for some other communications.  Over time, you may see some changes as we learn how to take advantage of all its features.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact editor Barbara Knutsen with your feedback and any suggestions.

I want to thank everyone for your kindness, friendship, and support since my father passed away in February.  Although he was a very traditional man who held conservative values, my father was always an advocate for gender equity.  In high school, he tried to convince the administration that boys as well as girls should be required to take Home Economics and that girls should have the opportunity to take Shop (Industrial Arts).  He didn’t get very far with his request but he was just a little ahead of his time.  He encouraged me to go to college and later to graduate school.  He was supportive of both my mother and me in our respective careers and activities outside of work and home.  I’m sure that much of my commitment to community and social justice is a direct result of his influence in my life.

Thank you to all of our nominees for board positions and to those of you who are continuing to serve during the next term.  Be sure to attend the April general meeting to vote for our new officers.

Beth Nienow,   President

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AAUW President’s Letter Jan 2016: by Beth Nienow

Please join us Saturday morning Jan 16th at Assisi Heights for an important human trafficking awareness event.  I’ve been told that if you think that trafficking doesn’t happen here in Rochester, after hearing the first speaker at this event, you will think again.  Our board feels that the content of this program is important and consistent with AAUW values so we want to encourage as many of our members as possible to attend in place with our usual branch general meeting on the third Saturday morning in January.

In January our branch also comes together to support local high school and community college students who have overcome tremendous difficulties to pursue higher education by contributing to the RCTC Foundation’s Beat the Odds Scholarship program.  AAUW’s mission is to remove economic and educational barriers for women and girls, and in recent years the majority of the recipients have been young women and children of struggling families.  This is a program we can feel good about supporting.  Please contact me if you are interested in attending the award ceremony dinner event the evening of Thursday Jan 14 at the Rochester International Event Center.

I have also been communicating with UMR administrators to identify a local student leader to apply for the $500 AAUW Minnesota grant to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the University of Maryland near Washington DC in June 2016.  If chosen to receive the grant from AAUW Minnesota, our branch will contribute $350 to the student for travel expenses.  Past attendees our branch have sponsored have told me that this conference was transformational in their development as leaders, helping them acquire skills that benefit not only themselves personally but also UMR and our community.

Thank you for all your generous contributions that make our support of these important programs possible.

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AAUW Presidents Letter Nov 2015: by Beth Nienow


Last month I wrote about the inevitability of change.  This month I’m back with the reassurance that while some things are changing, many others are staying the same.

The biggest change coming about in the near future is our transition to an electronic newsletter, most likely in February or March, 2016. Paying for the bulk mail permit, printing, and monthly mailing is no longer cost efficient for a branch our size.  Not to mention purchasing those little white stickers we all just love (sarcasm) to tear open and the time spent to stick them on and apply address labels each month. We will use the free email service Mail Chimp to send the newsletter directly to your email, no extra clicks required.  If you are among the 10% of our members who do not have email, we will mail a copy to you.  The newsletter may come to you in both electronic and paper form for the first month or two.  A paper copy will be printed and posted along with other information pertinent to our branch on the community organizations bulletin board on the second floor of the library.

So what is staying the same?  Our November meeting will still include a silent auction to raise money for legal advocacy funds. Look around your home for treasures and upscale white elephants you are willing to part with to raise money for this good cause.  We will gather at Willow Creek for lunch in March and at the country club for dinner in May.  Our tradition of sometimes fun and sometimes thought-provoking even controversial programs continues this month with Chancellor Lehmkuhle and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Lori Carrell from UMR.

Perhaps you would like to see even more changes?  In that case, seek out any board member to share your ideas.  Better yet, consider serving on the board yourself.  In the meantime, I hope you will continue to enjoy the comfortable rhythm of our AAUW year which is sometimes predictable, sometimes not.

See you November 18th!

Beth Nienow

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