League of Women Voters celebrates 100 years
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The League of Women Voters of Greater Green Bay celebrated the fact Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment 100 years ago.
The league – which is also celebrating a century of existence – was created to educate women on voting issues and their rights.
It held an event Friday, Feb. 14, to recognize and honor all women in leadership (government, industry and public service) – from those first trailblazers to the leaders of today.
“To the women who have come before us, today we come together to celebrate you, and the work of the League of Women Voters to celebrate 100 years of progress and looking forward to 100 more years,” said league member Colleen Gruszynski.
Surrounded by several elected women officials, Gruszynski highlighted the accomplishments of the women in Northeast Wisconsin who were some of the first in leadership, paving the way for others.
This includes Ane Hanrahan – the first supervisor elected to a county board in Wisconsin – right here in Brown County in 1923.
Some of those firsts – the first and only woman elected as Brown County Executive, Nancy Nusbaum; and the first Native American woman elected to the Brown County Board of Supervisors, Patty Hoeft; and Jennifer Garner from U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office, the first female Wisconsin senator – attended the event, each thanking the women who came before them.
“This is such a heart-warming sight, to look around this room and see the wonderful women who are here and think at this moment of the wonderful women who are not with us today, but whose spirits are with us,” Nusbaum said.
“The league is so wonderful to bring us together to celebrate this moment.”
Nusbaum was also the first woman elected as the mayor of De Pere in 1988.
“I’ll tell you, that the words I heard around De Pere in 1987 when I was starting out that campaign, was ‘De Pere is not ready for a woman mayor, yet,’” she said. “It always ended with yet. Because no one really wanted to say, ‘well, we don’t want you.’ They just wanted to say, ‘hmm, it’s not your time yet.’”
Green Bay Area Public School Board President Brenda Warren recognized the numerous women who impacted the school district over the years, which has had strong female representation.
“Over the past 22 years, our district school board has been led by women,” Warren said. “As a leader in this community, I have worked to set a good example and pave the way for our next generation of women and men to be strong and visionary leaders.”
The event was capped off by Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich and Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach, reading a proclamation naming Feb. 14 League of Women Voter’s Day.
“When I look at this room, I see women that have impacted my life immensely,” Streckenbach said. “It’s helped me better understand my role. It’s helped me better understand some of challenges happening in the county, and more importantly, they have been on my side on so many different issues.”
Ornaments commemorating the 100 year anniversary of voting rights for women are available at the Neville Public Museum.