National Charity League Hosts “Non-Partisan Civics for Teen Girls”

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(Shirley DeFrancisci, Photographer)
Acalanes and Lamorinda Chapters of the National Charity League hosted their first non-partisan civics for teen girls event at Miramonte High School on Oct. 23. A panel of local female elected officials shared advice on how teens – even those not yet old enough to vote – can become more civically engaged. Panelists in front (L-R) Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, District Attorney Diana Becton, Lafayette School Board Trustee Suzy Pak, Orinda Councilmember Amy Worth, Moraga Town Council Vice-Mayor Renata Sos and Orinda School Board Vice President Hillary Weiner.

    Over 200 teen girls from Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda filled the Miramonte High School gymnasium stands on Oct. 23, not to cheer for a sporting competition, but to attend Lamorinda’s first “Non-Partisan Civics for Teen Girls” event.
    The Acalanes and Lamorinda and Chapters of National Charity League (NCL) organized the panel of female elected officials in Contra Costa County to discuss the importance of being engaged and informed citizens.
    The local chapters of the NCL hope this event will serve as a blueprint for other chapters across the nation to encourage more girls to share their voices and become involved in the political process.
    Abigail Weiner, a student at Miramonte High School and member of NCL, shared why her chapter helped organize the event.
    “It is important for young women to participate in voting in order to share a new and younger generation’s perspective and to express their opinions to have a say in the political world,” said Weiner.
    The distinguished panel included District Attorney Diana Becton, the first woman and person of color to serve as Contra Costa District Attorney since the office was established in 1850; Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, the current 16th California Assembly District representative; Suzy Pak, a trustee on the Lafayette School Board; Renata Sos, a member of the Moraga Town Council and Vice Mayor; Hillary Weiner, current Vice President of the Orinda Union School District Board of Trustees; and Orinda City Councilmember and former Mayor Amy Worth, who has served Orinda for 24 years.
    Kay Lankford and Kirstin Parker, both seniors at Miramonte High School and members of NCL, emceed. They encouraged panelists to share their experiences as women in the political world before fielding questions from the audience.
    Key audience questions included, “Why is it important for women to hold elected office?” and “What is the hardest and most rewarding part of your job?”
    The panelists shared their inspiring stories of how and why they entered politics. They also described the unique skills and perspectives women bring to the political process.
    Panelists appealed to the teens in the audience to get involved in local issues by attending city council and school board meetings, joining committees, interning and letting their elected representatives know – via calls and emails, presentations and other means – what issues matter to them.
    Girls 16 years and older were invited to pre-register to vote at registertovote.ca.gov.
    Bauer-Kahan explained the importance of this year’s midterm elections and reasons to vote, even when the ballot doesn’t include a Presidential contest. She emphasized that many local offices and issues directly impact our community.
    All panelists focused on the importance of listening, keeping an open mind, analyzing the facts, weighing all sides of an issue, and then doing what one thinks is best for the community as a whole, for both office-holders and their constituents.
    Teen attendees also worked together by class to make several hundred patriotic zipper pulls for soldiers. This project was requested by NCL philanthropy partner Blue Star Moms, a national, non-political, Congressionally chartered veteran service organization that has been supporting the troops since 1960.
    Local news outlets, including KQED Public Radio and KTVU Fox 2 News, covered the event.
    Tess Gundacker, a senior at Acalanes High School who represented NCL in interviews with both media outlets, shared her thoughts on why she attended: “I think this event is really important, because we are promoting more females in civic and government positions and giving girls a vision for their future careers.”
    NCL is a national organization of mothers and daughters committed to philanthropy, culture and leadership. NCL donates close to three million hours annually to over 6,000 charities in the United States. The Acalanes and Lamorinda chapters are comprised of approximately 250 girls in seventh through twelfth grades and their mothers. For more information, visit www.nationalcharityleague.org.
   
Ella Hack can be reached at editor@theorindanews.com.

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