The Ruth S. Shur Fellows team is comprised of 25 dynamic and dedicated volunteers from across the country who were selected from a pool of candidates to support state coaching teams in mentoring local Leagues in recruiting and engaging members and the community to make our democracy strong and vibrant. Read about each of our unique and talented National Coaches below.
The Ruth S. Shur Fellows are a part of the support network provided to participating state coaching teams through the Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) Program. Through the MLD program, the League is becoming more effective and more powerful in communities throughout the nation. Watch this short video to learn more.
Tracy Adkison has been an active member of the League of Women Voters for almost 15 years. In 2002, Tracy joined the Board of Directors of LWV Atlanta/Fulton County. During her time on the Board, she served as VP Programs & Membership. While serving on the Voter Services committee, she organized various community forums, voter registration drives and chaired candidate forums. In 2008, Tracy joined the Board of the LWV Georgia. She also chaired the local arrangements committee for the LWV-US 49th National Convention held in Atlanta, Georgia in 2010. She is currently serving as 1st Vice President.
Professionally, Tracy has become Atlanta’s newest entrepreneur launching her Project Management firm – Business Management Concepts. She has continued contracting with DeKalb County School District for the Management Information Systems department. Tracy has a BS in Business Administration, and an MBA. Tracy & her husband Eric will be celebrating 9 years of wedded bliss & comedic turbulence in March. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, community service and spending time with family.
Julie Arneth has been an active League of Women Voters member since 1996. She has served on both the LWV Greater Green Bay and LWV Wisconsin boards as director, secretary, and president. Presently, she is the LWV Greater Green Bay president and a member of the LWVWI state board. In an effort to hone her technology skills she maintains the LWVGGB Website and monthly e-newsletter.
A retired secondary Language Arts teacher, Julie has served as past-president of the Green Bay Substitute Teacher Association. She continues to teach evening classes for English Language Learners at Literacy Green Bay and coordinates a number of Learning in Retirement classes at University of Wisconsin Green Bay.
Julie enjoys a myriad of activities including reading, prairie gardening, travel, seasonal sports and volunteer work both within the states and internationally with the Sierra Club and Global Volunteers. She is a member of the Green Bay and De Pere Antiquarian’s board
Lineah Davey grew up in Nebraska where she began her career teaching English. She retired teaching high school social studies and now she supervises social studies student-teachers at Colorado College.
When Lineah and her family moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1969, she joined the League, which had intrigued her since she read the LWV of Omaha Voters Guides.
After moving to Colorado Springs, Lineah became more active in League and has since held several positions on the local board, including President. Lineah served on LWVCO Board from 2005-2012 as VP of Member Services, conducting Leadership Training for local league board members, and serving as state coordinator for Membership Leadership Development. Lineah also served as a member of LWVUS Streamlining Committee. Lineah and her husband have two married daughters and three grandchildren. In her free time, Lineah enjoys hiking, sewing, and reading mysteries.
Georgia DeGregorio has served six years at the state level for LWVNY as Grassroots Director and, then, as Membership Chair. She is currently finishing her term as president of her local league, LWV Rochester Metro Area. No matter how long Georgia has been a League member, she has always found something new to learn and ways to grow as well as new friends to make.
Being a Shur Fellow helps her to continue this adventure. Besides League commitments, Georgia enjoys membership in Osher Lifelong Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology where she is taking a course on significant Supreme Court cases as well as one on Poverty: Local and World-wide. Additionally, each week, Georgia is responsible for the services at her church. Georgia has the pleasure of welcoming her three daughters into the League and, beginning this year, her 19 year old grandson.
Nancy joined the Seattle LWV in 1975 and was elected to the Board in 1977. Since then, she has been active both on and off boards building relationships with the membership and the community around key issues. Her passions are Voter Service, Women's Issues, and Social Justice. Making voting easy and accessible, working for universal registration, and providing clear and accessible information on the issues and candidates are key to a working democracy and a healthy community. Over the years, she managed and co-managed many media registration and information projects for commercial and public TV and radio as a volunteer and employee.
After retirement, she served four years as the LWVS president (2003-2007) and one term on the LWVUS Board (2008-2010). Professionally, she was a public affairs special project coordinator for KING 5 TV, development director and fundraising consultant for several nonprofits, and deputy probation officer in Alameda County, CA ('60s). She is president of the Board of the Southeast Seattle Senior Foundation that owns and manages 125 units of affordable nonprofit senior housing. Nancy is married, with two adult children, and two young grandsons who fill her spare time with fun and adventure.
Some of Myra’s work with the league has been as the local Nominating Chair, member of the local MLD Ambassador Team and youth voter outreach coordinator/facilitator. She is sought out as a “connector,” someone with an ability to assess a circumstance and offer suggestions, when invited. Locally Myra’s mantra is “it is all about the party” – not the political party, but the fun that is shared when work is done in groups, and always the more the merrier.
As a bit of a vagabond early in life, Myra have been blessed to live in different states and countries. Myra and her husband like to say that currently they are Mobilians by choice. That choice has enabled Myra to work with a number of non-profits with varied focuses from sex education to preschoolers to community growing to housing. Myra is looking forward to expanding her circle of friends and knowledge through the Shur Fellows program and the incredible work everyone is involved in.
Charolette (Lottie) Fox
During her 50+ year League service Lottie has served in nearly every local board capacity from observer to President and is a past board director for LWV California. League opened the doors of her mind and has walked beside her and befriended her through both her working career and her personal life. She has been inspired by other League leaders past and present who found their voice and their purpose in community service. Being a Ruth Shur Fellow is an extension of that purpose writ large, a way to give back (with gratitude!) to THE organization that educates and trains members to be leaders.
Her current civic and community activities include eleven years of service as a Commissioner on the Temecula Community Services and Human Relations Commission. This commission addresses preservation of open spaces, park acquisition, oversees maintenance of public facilities, housing for military veterans, promotes youth leadership, and seeks to enhance the arts and cultural experiences for all residents.
She has served on the Riverside County Court-Community Committee, a group under the auspices of the Riverside County Superior Court concerned about juvenile justice, selection and appointment of state judges, judicial independence, and the security of courts, jurors, defendants and plaintiffs.
Judy has 35 years of League experience that has included just about every aspect of the organization including serving on the state board, as the state president, serving on her local board and serving as president. She also worked full time at the local medical center (now retired). Judy has been very involved in her community in activities ranging from educational, children’s groups, civic/service oriented, parliamentary procedures, and political.
Her hobbies include playing bridge, reading, working out in the gym, hiking, skiing, traveling the world and spending time with her husband, two sons and two grandsons. Judy believes that the best aspect of being a Ruth Shur Fellow is learning from other national and state coaches and the national staff. The MLD is an exciting program that can spark enthusiasm throughout the League. Judy’s personal goal is to share with others this knowledge and enthusiasm!
Therese had an issue in 1990--healthcare reform. After moving to Washington State and searching for the most competent voice urging change in the US healthcare equation, she was recruited into the irrepressible Seattle League by long-time and extremely persuasive member, Nancy Debaste. Therese served on the Board, and as VP of Action and liaison to the WA State League. She chaired the Microcredit and National 2-year Healthcare Reform studies. And, the highlight of her League participation came in 1995, when she had the privilege of serving as delegate to the 4th UN NGO Conference on Women in Beijing. Scratching an unrequited adolescent itch to join the Peace Corp, Therese finally left her law partnership in 2006 to work in Senegal and South Africa on HIV prevention, treatment and care, and health systems. She is currently the US Liaison to a South African nonprofit aimed at strengthening rural health systems. She deeply respects League's "heft!"
Nearing the end of her career as a computer systems analyst, Diana Haskell finally joined LWVUS in 1999 and became a member of LWV-Wake County, NC in 2000. There she chaired the education committee and was a facilitator for Study Circles before becoming the local president 2006-2008 where her focus was on coalition building.
In 2007, she participated in the pilot of the Membership Recruitment Initiative (MRI) and then became a Ruth S. Shur Fellow in 2010. Throughout this process her most rewarding experiences have been the privilege of working with so many dedicated leaders at all three levels of the League. Since moving to Bethesda, MD in 2009, she has served on the boards of LWV-Montgomery County and LWVMD, but her local passion is the LWVUS Volunteer Lobby Corps. On occasion, she finds time to read or sew.
Margaret (Peggy) Hill
Margaret (Peg) Hill has been a member of the League of Women Voters in Texas since 1973. She served as President of the League of Women Voters in Richardson, Tx. In Houston, she served at Election Central Chair, as a Unit Chair, as Education Chair, on the nominations committee, and on the LWV Houston Area Board of Directors. She has also served for two years on the LWVUS Board of Directors where she was Co-Chair of the National Education Study. Currently she is a National Shur Fellow working with Arizona and California Leagues. During her 40+ years with the League, she has held many portfolios but with heavy emphasis upon education and environmental issues. Currently, she is on the LWVTX Education Committee and has been elected to serve on the LWVTX Board of Directors.
Dr. Hill also holds a doctorate from University of Houston in the area of literacy development. During her 20 years of university teaching, she directed the National Writing Project site in Houston, chaired the Department of Language and Literacy, and served as President of the Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading and the Texas State Reading Association. She was also active in the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English. She’s been awarded exemplary service at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in both Service and Teaching. She was also awarded a Lifetime Service Award by the Texas Council of Teachers of English and the Leadership Award from the Texas State Reading Association.
Although Marcia Hirshberg likes to say she’s been in League for 100 years and served at every level, she also points out that she is still growing with this wonderful vibrant organization. Being a Shur fellow has allowed Marcia to learn new things about how the League works in different areas of the country. It gives her the opportunity to interact with intelligent, creative women to solve community issues. Outside of Marcia’s League life, she enjoys choral singing (as in her picture), gardening, reading a lot and recently she has been outrageously involved in partisan politics. Marcia’s Scottie dog thinks she should take him for more walks and her husband thinks they should go to more movies.
Amy is 31 years old and lives in Sault Sainte Marie, MI, the eastern end of the upper peninsula, with her husband and two sons, Gabriel who is five years old and Lucas who is two years old. Before motherhood, Amy was in the U.S. Coast Guard training Coast Guardsmen and women about boat handling, saving the lives of recreational boaters, chasing drug runners, and regulating fishing vessels on the west coast of Oregon and California. Now she leaves all that demanding work to her husband of ten years. Her adventurous Coast Guard life helped pay her next six years of college so that she could earn an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Studies, a Bachelors of Science in Social Sciences, and a Masters of Arts in Political Science. When Amy is not doing diapers and other mom duties, she is in her “cave” working on her next volunteer project. She helps with the local PTO, Women’s shelter, Coast Guard Spouses group, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), Great Start, City Commission appointed Community Service Board, and LWVMI. After moving to Sault Ste. Marie in May 2012, she found the community lacking access to nonpartisan information and education on big policy issues, so she decided to start a MAL League in her area. Amy is now the president of League of Women Voters of Eastern Upper Peninsula, and she has grown the group from two (she and her husband) to 30 in just one year. She is also serving as the co-chair to the LWVUS Young People Task Force. Besides her League experience in Michigan, Amy has served as a LWV Board member in San Diego, CA and Portland, OR.
Linda Johnson has been active in League since 1980, having served on local and state boards in 4 communities and two states. Since moving to Leavenworth, KS with her husband, Carl, Linda has been instrumental in starting a new League there. Most recently, Linda has been the secretary on the Kansas board, and an MLD coach.
Linda and her husband have two adult daughters – one in Seattle, and one here in Leavenworth. Linda and Carl enjoy playing bridge, square dancing, attending theatre, reading, walking, singing in choir, and working together outdoors. Linda’s professional life was in social work, in a wide variety of settings – hospitals, inpatient mental health, nursing homes, ethics center, managed care organization. For the last decade or so of her career, she was in administration and teaching. Her most recent adventure was running unsuccessfully for the state legislature – but she thinks she’ll try again!!
Donna Lauffer has been an active member of LWV Johnson County Kansas since 1987. After moving to Overland Park in 1986, Donna wanted to become familiar with her new city home and volunteered as a League Observer. She has been active in the League since. In 2011 Donna retired as the Director of the Johnson County Library after 32 years. She was instrumental in developing civic engagement in the library system and established the Lauffer Civic Engagement Fund in the library foundation to continue this civic work.
Donna served as President of the LWV Johnson County 1994-1995 and the LWV Kansas President 1998-2000. She served on the LWVUS Board 2006-2008. Donna and husband Russ are enjoying more time with their grandchildren Katie, Madison, and Nicholas. Donna is also active in Kansas City Consensus, a public policy non- profit in Kansas City area that encourages citizen participation in public policy. She also works with her local Rotary Club on a Youth Leadership Institute held each summer.
Deborah Macmillan is president of the League of Women Voters of East Windsor-Hightstown and past chair of the LWVNJ Committee on Immigration. She has also served as president of LWVNJ member of the LWVUS study committee on immigration, and is retired from a career in academics and survey/market research, and brief stints as a professional canoeist and as a 2010 census taker. She loves the intensity and diversity of the League members she works with in the MLD program.
Linda Mahan grew up in the St. Louis area and after college in Ohio, began a career in teaching in Boston. Following graduate school at BU Linda moved to Colorado in 1979 where she quickly was invited to "join the League" in Fort Collins. In addition to leadership roles in the League of Larimer County and seven years on the LWVCO Board, Linda has enjoyed networking on health care with Leaguers and working in many other organizations related to health care, youth, the arts and my faith community.
Linda’s life has been further enriched through hosting international students and living abroad for three years with her family. Her educational background and League experience equipped Linda to teach English as a second language in France, Belgium and Nepal and most recently conduct civic education programs in Nepal and India. Linda and her husband raised their two sons in Fort Collins and continue to appreciate biking, camping and hiking in our outdoor playground.
Gini McGirr joined LWV in 1965 in Worthington, MN where she served as President for four years and held other offices. Before moving to Tucson, Gini has also been President of local Leagues in Phoenix, AZ and Greeley, CO and was Secretary on the Colorado state board. She was Voter Editor in Omaha, NE. She has lived in Tucson for 21 years, where she has been President of the local League for 4 years and has served on the League board for many years. Gini has been President of the Arizona state League, Arizona state secretary for four years while living in Phoenix and is now still serving in that office. She has attended 20 national conventions and 14 councils, and has started four local Leagues. Gini has also been on the LWVUS nominating committee and the LWVUS Resolutions committee.
Gini, and hubby, Gordon, of 63 years, wind down from League activities by watching the Arizona sunsets.They have one daughter with two grandsons living in Tucson. Gini enjoys reading and keeping tabs on state legislators.
Eileen Olmsted settled in California in 1977 after spending many years of her life overseas. The first organization she wanted to join was the League of Women Voters. As a non-citizen living in another country Eileen realized how important civic involvement could be in a society. Eileen has held many offices in League but her favorite League position has always been membership. Quite simply, without an active membership, League can have no impact. Outside of League, Eileen’s hobbies are reading, singing, genealogy, and attending opera. Eileen currently lives in Pittsburgh PA where she is co-president of the local League. This is her second time around as a Shur fellow because she truly believes in the program and Eileen looks forward to a greatly invigorated grassroots organization as a result of it.
Amanda Patanow first joined the League of Women Voters in 2008 as a way to take action after seeing low voter turnout, particularly young voters, in a local election. Since then, she has continued the theme of action by serving on the Voter Service committee, as a Director and President of her local League board and as a Membership and Leadership Development state coach. In each of these roles, Amanda has applied her love of bringing about change and connecting with people through lobbying state legislators, moderating local candidate forums and coaching local Leagues.
In her professional life, Amanda uses her 15 years of marketing experience to create strategies, materials and training for sales organizations to reach healthcare professionals. To do this successfully, she has specialized I'm understanding the complex world of healthcare reform, changing legislations and physician practice workflow optimization. Amanda holds a BS in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from Florida State University. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her wife, Lisa, and their daughter.
Lisa Plencner has been the Court Administrator for St. Joseph County, Indiana for nine years. Lisa attended Loyola University Chicago and Indiana University Bloomington. She has her paralegal certificate from Indiana University South Bend.
Lisa is just finished her fifth year as President of the LWV of the South Bend Area (IN) and sits on the board of the LWVIN. Lisa also shares her talents as a board member of the Unity Gardens, the Volunteer Lawyer Network and is the District 2 (IN) Coordinator for the “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” a program to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s elementary and secondary students.
In her free time, she does extensive traveling with her mother and participates in competitive shooting with her father. Lisa shares her home with her partner of nine years and their two dogs and two cats.
Haley Richards has been an active member of the LWV Pensacola Bay Area for 6 years. In 2009, Haley joined the Board of Directors of LWV Pensacola Bay Area as Secretary and today serves as Co-President. Other League activities include Membership Committee Chair, Nominating Committee, Social Media and participating in a study of Inmate Rehabilitation Programs. Haley believes the MLD program can help Leagues grow new members and leaders. She is looking forward to supporting Leagues efforts to apply the MLD tools as a Shur Fellow.
Haley is a Pensacola native and received a BA degree in Secondary Education/ Social Science from Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL in 2007. She is currently employed as the Circles® Northwest Florida Community Organizer with Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida. Community involvements include Pensacola Young Professionals Quality of Life Team, Toastmasters Club member, and named as a 2014 Rising Star by the Independent News.
Elona serves as LWVCT Membership Director and is co-president of her local League. She was appointed by President Carter to the Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies, has worked in the Connecticut Governor’s Office of Policy and Management, was the editor for the engineering departments at Yale University, wrote a by-lined column on civic activism in the New Haven Register, produced a monthly show on health/medicine on WELI, was a consultant for the CPTV program “Better Health,” and visited Lithuania for the LWVUS Global Democracy Program.
Elona holds a Ph.D. from Yale, has a son and daughter, and lives with her scientist husband in North Haven, CT.
Penney Van Vleet
Penney Van Vleet has been president of several local Leagues and served on state boards in WI and WA. She managed multiple community and economic development organizations in WI. Penney, along with her mentor, new Leaguers and young mothers, recently conducted a housing survey and won enactment of a Fair Housing Ordinance for Houston, TX.
Penney credits the Shur Fellows experience with providing a new skills set and insights into the camaraderie, support, enthusiasm, and hard work at all three levels of the League. It has been an exciting journey! When there is free time she loves to kayak, read, knit, carve driftwood, and enjoy time with her friends and husband.
Mary G. Wilson served as the 17th president of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS). She is a native of Ohio who has lived in New Mexico since 1979 and has been a member of the League since 1986. Mary is a graduate of Valparaiso University in Indiana and the University of Denver, College of Law.
She is an attorney with 37 years of experience in diverse fields of practice including estate planning, regulatory compliance, commercialization and privatization, corporate and environmental law. She is the owner of The Law Offices of Wilson & Associates, P.C., Albuquerque, NM. She and her partner, José Mora, live on a ranch with their five horses and two donkeys.
The work of the National Coaches was made possible through the generosity of League member Walter Shur in memory of his beloved late wife and life-long League member Ruth S. Shur. If you would like to participate in the Membership Leadership Development (MLD) program or would like to donate to the Fund for Local League Growth to support the National Coaches’ work, please contact Shauneen Grout at SGrout@lwv.org.