Making Democracy Work

About the Kent League

History

On March 17, 1953, a group of women met at the home of Mrs. Robert White to discuss formation of a Kent League of Women Voters. The meeting had been arranged by Mrs. White and Mrs. Herbert VanMeter, former League members in Burlington, Iowa, and Oberlin, Ohio, respectively. Mrs. Klinger of Warren, Ohio, and a member of the board of the League of Women Voter's of Ohio, led a discussion of the League, its purpose, programs and organization. As a result, a nominating committee was chosen.

At the first meeting of the Provisional League of Women Voters of Kent on April 21, 1953, Mrs. J. Hale Myers was elected president. "Know Your Town" was the first topic for study. The Kent League, with Mrs. Myers as president, was formally recognized in April 1954. Voter-service work was initiated with the distribution of information about the primary election. Wider distribution resulted when the League's Candidates Bulletin was publised in the local newspaper, the Record-Courier, in 1956.

From then on, a succession of presidents and dedicated members carried on and built upon the the organization's founding members. Below is a list of past presidents of the Kent League of Women Voters and the years they served:

  • Mrs. J. Hale Myers (1953-1955)
  • Mrs. John B. Nicholson Jr. (1955-1959)
  • Mrs. Thomas Marshall (1959-1962)
  • Mrs. F. Dewey Amner (1962-1963)
  • Mrs. Parker LaBach (1963-1965)
  • Edith Chase (1965-1967)
  • Pat Reed (1967-1969)
  • Virginia Motycka (1969-1971)
  • Pat Sattler (1971-1973)
  • Sylvia Coogan (1973-1975)
  • Nancy Wenniger (1975-1979)
  • Jo Ann Zaynor (1979-1981)
  • Carol Murphy (1981-1983)
  • Jane Preston Rose (1983-1985)
  • Roberta O'Keefe (1985-1987)
  • Kathleen Downing Pownall (1987-1989)
  • Jan Rusnack (1989-1991)
  • Gail Pytel (1991-1993)
  • Anita Bixenstine (1993-1996)
  • "T.B. Deter" (1996-1997)
  • Amie Cajka (1997-1999)
  • Jo Ann Zaynor (1999-2000)
  • Nena Hankins (2000-2003)
  • Jan Rusnack (2003-present; coordinator)

Membership

The League of Women Voters of Kent serves the residents of Kent, Ravenna and southern Portage County. Residents of cities and towns in Northern Portage County are served by the League of Women Voters of Northern Portage County. For more information about the Northern Portage County League, call (330) 562-8410.

Members of both the Kent and Northern Portage County Leagues also are members of the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Organizational Structure

The League of Women Voters of Kent has an organizational structure consiting of a 19-member board, including five officers and 14 directors. The five officers are president (or coordinator), two co-vice presidents, secretary and treasurer. Each of the 14 directors chair a specific program area, such as membership, public relations, land use and environment, action alerts and campaigns, and charter schools. In some cases, a board officer may chair a committee not chaired by a director.

Committees

The LWVK has 15 committees on a range of topics with varying degrees of volunteer time commitment. To volunteer for a committee or to learn more about its purpose, click here. A brief description of each committee is given below:

Land Use and Environment

This committee studies issues pertaining to natural resources and the promotion of an environment beneficial to life. The committee studies issues such as the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest, and the interrelationship of air quality, energy, land use, waste management and water resources.

Action Alerts and Campaigns

This committee is responsible for lobbying, working with other organizations, communication with legislators by letter, phone and personal visits to further the positions of the League. The committee also monitors campaign finance issues.

Voters Guide and Voter Service

This committee performs the best-known function of the League--services to voters. The group's activites include encouraging citizens to register to vote and vote in all elections and participate in government and politics. A Voters Guide--with information on candidates and issues--is compiled and published before primary and general elections.

Charter Schools

This new committee is compiling information on community (charter) schools to learn more about issues such as how they work and how they are structured.

Newsletter

The League's newsletter, The VOTER is published eight to 10 times a year and provides information on Kent League activities and other items of interest to the membership.

Finance

This committee plans and implements fund-raising activities for the Kent League.

Death Penalty

This is a new national study that is in the process of collecting information. The information is needed so the League can take a position on the issue. The decision to undertake the study was made at the League of Women Voters of Ohio's convention in May 2003.

Membership

This group recruits new members at various types of functions and helps them become familiar with the Leagues activities, positions and volunteer opportunities within the Kent League.

Candidates Meetings and Voter Service

This committee's tasks includes voter registration drives, candidates meetings and get-out-the-vote drives.

Public Relations

This committee works to educate the public about the Kent League's positions and encourage citizen participation in the political process.

Jail Position

This committee is responsible for updating the League's position on the justice system, taking into account changes that have occurred since the original position was adopted.

Long-Range Planning

This committee helps to determine where the League is today and where it wants and needs to go in the years ahead. Member input is essential to this committee's effectivementss.

Policies and Bylaws

This committee is responsible for reviewing the League's bylaws, policies and procedures to see if they have kept up with changes in local, state and national League information.

Program Planning

Every January, this committee heads an effort to review the local League's positions on issues. On alternating years, either state or national issues will be reviewed as well to determine if they still serve the purpose for which they were developed. Positions can be retained, updated or dropped.

Observer Corps

This group monitors and observes meetings of local, regional, state and national governmental bodies. Observers do not speak for the League; rather, they attend meetings to listen, learn and submit written, factual reports (as opposed to interpetive ones) of the proceedings they have observed. Reports are retained in the League's files and printed in its newsletter as space is available.

Newsletter

The VOTER newsletter is published eight to 10 times a year. Each issue contains information about League programs and events. Issues dating back to 1999 are available by clicking on the Newsletter link on the Home Page menu. To view and/or print copies of the current and past newsletters, click here.

Position Statements

The League of Women Voters of Kent takes a position on issue only after an official study has been conducted, a consensus of what that position should be has been reached and the League's board has approved the wording. These positions are on a range of topics, such as parks and recreation, Kent city charter, Portage County Justice System and Kent city schools. To read more about these and other position statements, click here.

Partnerships

Kent Environmental Council

The League also partners with the Kent Environmental Council by joining as a sponsor for the KEC's annual environmental awards dinner and other related programs. For more information on the Kent Environmental Council, click here.