March Book Selection: Empty Mansions, Dedman and Newell

Empty Mansions : The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.


When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed a property listing for a grand estate that had been unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled into one of the most surprising American stories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Empty Mansions is a rich tale of wealth and loss, complete with copper barons, Gilded Age opulence, and backdoor politics. At its heart is a reclusive 104-year-old heiress named Huguette Clark.

Our discussion will begin on March 25, led by Gail.  If you would like to join us, contact

LAF Moshak Case Wins!

Here is a positive example of your Legal Advocacy Fund Dollars at work!

In 2012,  Jennifer Moshak, Heather Mason, and Colin Schlosser, former employees of the University of Tennessee’s women’s athletic department, sued the university alleging sex discrimination and unlawful retaliation.  Two were fired and one was forced to retire.  This was a Title IX case and also involved gender pay inequity,

These cases are costly and take a long time to wind through the judicial system. I am happy to report that Moshak v. University of Tennessee just settled in favor of the plaintiffs for more than $1 million.

When donating to the AAUW Fund , please consider donating to the Legal Advocacy Fund whose case support program fights gender discrimination.

And to receive monthly updates about LAF, make sure to sign up for the LAF Express .

January 2016 Book Group Selection: The Primates of Park Avenue

Primates of Park Avenue-book coverWhat happens when a Midwestern social researcher with a background in anthropology moves to Manhattan’s most prestigious ZIP code…and raises her children there? Primates of Park Avenue is an anthropological memoir of Manhattan motherhood by Dr. Wednesday Martin, author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel and Act the Way We Do (Houghton Mifflin, 2009). By turns hilarious, touching and insightful, Primates of Park Avenue reveals the pressures, conundrums and competition that make mothers and mothering in Manhattan unique.

Tobi will lead our discussion, beginning on January 25. If you would lke to join us, send email to

Together we make a difference!

I followed the latest online program about AAUW Funds with great interest and it renewed my efforts to connect with our NCCWSL Scholarship recipient, Shannon Swiney.   She is a very busy young woman; Vice President of the AAUW Chapter at the Napa Valley College,  finishing her chemical engineering and math studies and preparing to transfer to a four year college.  Shannon Swiney (1)

We spent a couple of hours over coffee while she shared her gratefulness for our branch scholarship and the excitement of presenting the NVC STEM project:  “Moving Women Forward in Stem Careers” during a workshop entitled “Dismantling the Double Standard: Combating Gender Stereotypes”.

The NVC project had both a research and community component.  For the research portion, they surveyed middle and high school students within Napa and put together statistics based upon the survey results and they also looked at the statistics for the college from available data.  As a result, they could show a perceived gender bias among the students and a tremendous gender gap between men and women in STEM classes at the college.

For the community portion, they put together a day-long event, Sci-Tech Girls, for girls in middle and high school.  The event included a panel of women in STEM fields, an inspiring film during lunch, and interactive workshops ( with sheep brains, robotics and computer coding).  It was successful and they hope to make it an annual event at the college, beginning in the Spring of 2016.

Shannon sent the branch a thank you on NCCWSL letterhead which I would be happy to share.  The branch shares in the accomplishment of funding a scholarship and knowing just how much of a difference we made.

So, as we ponder our charitable giving before December 31, 2015, think about the very real and tangible difference we made together in the life of this one girl and then how she impacted and will continue to impact the lives of other young women in the future.

Thank you for your generosity in any amount!




Say “No More” to the gender pay gap.

For  the past week we have had an amazing program about AAUW FUNDS.

Sandy K has posted some very useful information about the signing the 2016 Pledge for the Charting the Course Campaign.

For 2015, I want to encourage you to donate to the AAUW ONE FUND. Quoting Sharon Westafer, Chair of the CA AAUW Funds Committee, this fund “raises unrestricted donations for programs in most need of funding; in other words to create greatest opportunities to help the projects no programs with the greatest need.  If you have that ‘hard to shop for person’ on your list, consider a donation to AAUW in their name.  What better way to honor someone than by contributing to a wonderful organization that works to ensure that all women and girls have a fair chance?” ‪ the deadline for 2015 Contributions is December 31st.

The AAUW Fund: Greatest Opportunity, Greatest Need

The AAUW Fund advances AAUW’s mission by sustaining all our programs and activities.  Your unrestricted gift to the AAUW Fund helps incubate and disseminate programs that
* above all, advance equity for women and girls
* strengthen AAUW’s role in the global community
* respond to and eradicate the persistent challenges facing women and girls
* leverage new opportunities and attract new audiences to our mission
In short, the programs listed here get results for women and girls. And that’s AAUW’s top priority, now and in the future.



Non AAUW Members


Giving Tuesday-Donate to the AAUW Fund today!

Many of our branch members have been having a very informative program discussion of the AAUW Fund and all the ways it supports AAUW’s mission through programs.  We have heard about the Charting the Course Campaign with the goal of raising $1 million in unrestricted giving that supports ALL of AAUW’s programs.

Now that it is Giving Tuesday, it is the time for us to step up our philanthropy, starting with making a pledge to the Charting the Course Campaign.

Branch members may donate by going to the Member Services Database (MSD).  Once you have logged in and (if you belong to more than one branch) selected the CA Online Branch, click on Individual Contributions in the navigation bar on the left side of the screen.  Although you may designate your gift to a specific fund, we are encouraging our members to give all (or at least some) of your gift to “The AAUW Fund — General Support where it is most needed”.

If you have pledged to the Charting the Course Campaign, you can designate your gift to that campaign from the “Other Special Funds and Giving Circles” drop-down menu on that donation page from the MSD — or simply make your donation at the same time you fill out your pledge form.

Today is also a very good day to share on social media why you are donating to AAUW… and encouraging friends to do the same!

NOVEMBER 19th PROGRAM: The AAUW FUND: Everything You Wanted To Know & More!!

Hi Onliners!

We have an exciting program STARTING ON NOVEMBER 19TH about The AAUW FUND and are lucky to have Sharon Westafer, chair of the AAUW CA Fund Committee, help us to better understand the “new” AAUW Fund and why contributing NOW is so important.  Sharon will be available from NOVEMBER 19-20.

Our guest expert for this program, Sharon Westafer, is a 5th generation Californian who was born and raised in Auburn.  She has degrees in social work and nursing and is a retired registered nurse who enjoys reading, travel, cooking and walking.  A dual member and past president of the Stockton and Long Beach branches, she now serves as a member of the AAUW National Fund Raising committee, Director on the AAUW CA state board and chair of the AAUW CA Fund committee, Co-chair of the Long Beach branch STEM career conference and member of the Long Beach branch scholarship selection committee and Tech Trek committees.  She is also membership vice president for one of her local library’s Friends of the Library.

Some of the areas Sharon will be covering will be:  an overview/history of the Fund; “One AAUW”; the new “Charting the Course” Campaign, and how to donate online.

Also participating will be 2015-2016 Career Development Grant Recipient Alejandra Rosas. She has recently moved to Southern CA and is pursuing a master’s degree in communication at Johns Hopkins University via the Internet!  A multimedia editor and videographer at Volunteers of America, she captures and shares the stories of individuals living on the margins of society. She hopes to continue working in film and video production, expanding her abilities as a storyteller and producer of meaningful content.

Alejandra travels a lot and will be sharing her experience as a grant recipient and what’s it’s like to live an “online life.”

Anyone who was subscribed to the September program on AAUW’s Solving the Equation will remain subscribed to this program.  If anyone not currently subscribed to the program email list wishes to join this program, please contact Communications Chair Sandy Hansen before the program BEGINS ON NOV. 19TH.  Tremayne Parquet at the national office plans to subscribe to this program.

Please feel free to participate and ask questions!

Here are some useful links to review prior to the NOV. 19 program:

Overview of Funding & Awards:

Diagram and explanation of AAUW’s “One Fund”

Explanation of the new Charting the Course Campaign

Description of the Legal Advocacy Fund

November Selection for Book Group

Disgruntled - February-150pxOur November book is Disgruntled by Asali Solomon, 2001-02 American Fellow. The discussion will begin on November 25.

Contact if you would like to join us.

Kenya Curtis is only 8 years old, but she knows that she’s diferent. It’s not because she’s black — most of the other students in the fourth-grade class at her West Philadelphia elementary school are, too. Maybe it’s because she celebrates Kwanzaa, or because she’s forbidden from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe it’s because she calls her father “Baba” instead of “Daddy.” What Kenya does know is that her difference is connected to what her Baba calls “the shame of being alive.”

Effortlessly funny and achingly poignant, Asali Solomon’s long-awaited debut novel follows Kenya from West Philadelphia to the suburbs, from public school to private, from childhood through adolescence, as she grows increasingly disgruntled by her inability to find any place or thing or person that feels like home. A coming-of-age tale, a portrait of Philadelphia in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, an examination of the impossible double binds of race, Disgruntled is a novel about the desire to rise above the limitations of the narratives we’re given and the painful struggle to craft fresh ones we can call our own.


AAUW CA Public Policy Update

2015 Legislative Update – AAUW California
The 2015 legislative year began slowly in January but soon heated up in part due to our participation in a new, exciting coalition – Str♀nger California Advocates Network. This coalition, organized by the Women’s Policy Institute, was made up of two dozen groups, some with established Capitol credentials and many new to advocacy but with significant experience in working with communities affected by the four pillars of the California women’s economic agenda. Our agenda had four established pillars under which two dozen bills on which we advocated as a coalition were categorized.
Pillar One – Fair Pay and Job Opportunities
Pillar Two – Access to Childcare
Pillar Three – Family Friendly Workplace
Pillar Four – Eradicating Poverty
AAUW California’s agenda primarily focused on Pillar One – Fair Pay and Job Opportunities, and supported many of the Str♀nger California bills with a few non-coalition bills added, but we were very deliberate that our focus was Fair Pay. We sponsored Assembly Concurrent Resolution 50 (Gonzalez) to bring attention to Equal Pay Day, and cosponsored with the California Employment Lawyers Association a bill on closing the gender wage gap, that if the Governor had signed the bill, would have made California first in the nation to have a bill prohibiting employers from using prior salary history to establish new pay. Unfortunately AB 1017 (Campos) was vetoed, along with another progressive bill to attack the gender wage gap, AB 1354 (Dodd) requiring state contractors to have plans in place for fighting gender pay inequities.
The vetoes occurred on the last day the Governor could act, October 11th, by citing our biggest victory of the year, Senate Bill 358 (Jackson), which he signed, as the reason. SB 358 was a sorely needed update to California’s Fair Pay Act. Not only does it prohibit retaliation for disclosing wages amongst coworkers, but closes a huge loophole used by employers when employees sued for wage discrimination based on gender. This was a tremendous victory that received national attention, the importance of which should not be discounted amidst our disappointment with the vetoes; but we know from the AAUW Analysis of Gender Pay Laws by State that multiple avenues of addressing this problem are needed. This is particularly true after the recent disappointing news from the Census that the gender pay gap has barely budged in the last decade.
We’ll be back. Perhaps not in 2016 but sooner rather than later. We’ll take time to marshal our forces and stock our ammunition (data). Part of what would be helpful in the fight are YOUR STORIES. In talking with people about the bill, there was an amazing number who’d either personally been affected or knew someone who had been disadvantaged by having to disclose their prior salary history in order to apply for a job. It can vary from failure to get an interview because your credentials were assessed using your low salary as a proxy, and by that measure you were deemed unqualified and therefore not worthy of an interview. It could be you were paid below the established range, or less than a colleague because the company policy was to pay prior salary plus x% only. Summit your stories to Please include your contact information and if you’d be willing to be public with your story.
Meanwhile, we hope to have our Fair Pay poster person, Aileen Rizo-Acosta, at our 2016 California meeting to talk about the impact of using prior salary history to establish new wages. Aileen and her family traveled to Sacramento from Fresno dozens of times to persuasively testify on both SB 358 and AB 1017 by relating her compelling story. Read about her story here and follow her on Facebook . Her lawsuit against her employer for paying her $20,000 below a less qualified male colleague because of her prior salary should be heard early in 2016, and we’ll make sure to update you. Please “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter using @aauwcalobbyist and @aauw_ca.
The new legislative year (2nd year of a two year session) will begin January 4, 2016. The website will be updated with our new agenda after the March Public Policy Committee. Thanks to your support, especially our Two-Minute Activists, we are able to move our agenda forward.

Meeting at U.S. Treasury

U. S. Treasurer Rosie Rios presenting tour of Women in the Treasury

U. S. Treasurer Rosie Rios presenting tour of Women in the Treasury

On Friday, October 9, as national Board vice chair I had the honor of joining 50 of my fellow AAUW members, including the Board of Directors, and our CEO for an exclusive, behind-closed-doors roundtable session with U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios, the “woman behind the woman on the $10 bill.” We had a very open and productive conversation about whose face should grace that new bill, as well on the persistent gender pay gap and other pertinent issues. 

The decision, by Rios and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, to make a woman the face of the $10 bill has reignited two long-standing discussions that AAUW cares very much about: how to represent the key role that women play in our nation’s history and how to empower women today. As the 43rd treasurer of the United States, Rios is key ally in both those discussions.

The timing of our meeting was also fitting: just under a week before Latina Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date each year that Latina women have to work to in order to be paid what a man was paid the previous year. Working 10 whole latina-EPDenglishmonths extra just for the same pay — it’s shameful!

A prominent Latina political figure, Rios shares our frustration about the pay gap and the still-unequal status of women in the United States. Her signature appears on roughly half the banknotes in this country. After our discussion, I know she shares our commitment to real change, not spare change — and to getting more of those signatures into the pockets of hardworking American women and their families!

AAUW has a long history of advocating for women’s economic security and pay equity. It was an honor to be part of this chapter in that ongoing legacy.

Alicia Hetman AAUW CA Online Branch Mermber