Making Democracy Work

About LWVBCC

About LWVBCC

LWVBCC Today

The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties is an active and growing organization. Since 2005 our membership has more than doubled and we are currently the 4th largest League in Michigan. In part this is because the League is really the only grassroots, multi-issue, nonpartisan political organization working at all levels of government in this area.

LWVBCC has a variety of meetings each year often with world class speakers. Senator Debbie Stabenow visited us in September 2010 and in November 2010 Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment and a rock star in the scientific world, spoke on climate change at a sold out dinner co-sponsored by Fernwood Botanical Garden. Environment and Energy related issues have consistently been a focus. Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation was the featured speaker at a very well attended September 2011 public meeting on pipelines, including the Keystone XL pipeline. We have partnered for two meetings with American Electric Power. AEP invited us to the Cook Nuclear Plant, the first group of lay persons invited since 9/11. This was followed by a meeting at the AEP facility in Buchanan on "Coal--The Dark Energy Source." A major public meeting in the spring of 2012 featured MSU's Dr. Charles Ballard on the Michigan economy and privatization. Our October 2012 meeting was on methamphetamine abuse as a serious police and public health issue. On November 13 we held a public meeting on "Fracking: Truth and Consequences" on gas hydrofracturing in Michigan. In the spring of 2013 the subjects of public meetings were human trafficking, alternative energy sources and an update on the Affordable Care Act

In addition, we do traditional League things like voter service, program planning for conventions and consensus meetings on national and state items, most recently consensus meetings on the Role of the Federal Government in Public Education--held at a new local winery!--and Privatization of Government Services

Voter Service is always huge in a major election year. We had three forums in the summer of 2012 before the primaries and just had four very well attended candidate debates in October. We organized a coaltion of the League and 8 other community organizations to induce the candidates to prticipate in our forums.

LWVBCC does not have any membership requirements beyond the payment of dues and each member can choose her or his level of involvement, which can change from year to year. Obviously, we do need some people to be active and many are. We also do not meet on any set schedule, beyond favoring fall and spring meetings. We try to schedule our meetings on different days of the week and times of day and in different locations, so as many people as possible can participate. The availability of speakers is also a factor. Some, like U.S. Senators and Congressmen just tell you when they are coming! The Board of Directors does meet on the third Tuesday of the month with the exception of February, June and December (members and guests welcome). The Annual Meeting and Dinner is always in mid-June.

History of LWVBCC

The League chapter in Berrien County was founded in 1957 as the League of Women Voters of Niles and has been continuously active for 54 years. The League changed its name to the League of Women Voters of Niles/Buchanan in 1971 and finally became the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties in 1984.

The League was involved in every major issue in Niles and Berrien County in its early years and also studied national and international issues (in 1966 they held a forum on China). As usual, the League was ahead of its time, studying public sanitation in Berrien County and water conservation in 1959! Throughout its history the League has emphasized voter service and there were lots of pictures in the Niles Daily Star of League members registering voters, testing voting machines and showing voters how they worked. There were candidate forums and voters guides and workshops on running for election. Always back then the ladies wore dresses and suits and often hats and gloves.

There have been 26 presidents since 1957 including two men. It was decided at the 1974 national convention to admit men to the membership. Currently 28 percent of the local members are men and there are two men serving on the Board of Directors. It was certainly different in 1957 when all the women were identified in news articles only by their husbands' names, as in Mrs. William Kinne, the League's first president. It wasn't until 1974 that a League president was identified in the media by her own name.

LWVBCC is very proud to have been awarded a number of grants to support its work, including a grant from the local Pokagon Fund to finance our 2008 voter education and voter service work and in 2012 a grant from the Michigan Nonprofit Association for voter registration. Also in 2012 we received another grant from the Pokagon Fund to buy a new projector and visibilty items, such as banners.

Support the League

For your convenience, the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties accepts both credit card and PayPal donations. There is no need to have or to create a PayPal account. PayPal accepts most credit cards. If you have a PayPal account and want to use it then click the "Check out with PayPal" button. If you prefer to use a credit card without using a PayPal account then click the "Check Out" button.

We rely on dues and donations to support our programs. If you would like to help us, please click on the Donate button here and donate via PayPal...

...or click here to print this information form, fill it in, and mail it with your check to:

League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties
P.O. Box 1032
Niles MI 49120

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