The Ruth S. Shur Fellows team is comprised of 26 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.
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.
Marjory (Margie) lives in Lakewood CO with her husband. Her two grown children and two grandchildren also live in the Denver Metro area.
Margie was a speech pathologist and teacher of the hearing impaired for more than 30 yrs. She worked at Children’s Hospital and Jefferson County Schools for the majority of her career working primarily with newly identified hearing impaired children and students in regular classrooms, who had a hearing loss.
Upon retirement, she became more active in League of Women Voters of Jefferson County. She has served on numerous committees studying various topics including, education, health care, transportation, and affordable housing. She also was a board member serving as Program VP and President. Later, she became an LWVCO board member as Program VP and President. Margie was a coach with MLD (MRI) at its inception in Colorado. After the Coordinator moved on to become a Shur Fellow, Margie assumed that role and is currently serving in that capacity.
Melissa Currence joined the League of Women Voters in 1997 and currently serves as the vice president of development for the Cincinnati Area LWV. She has served in various capabilities at the local level, including as Cincinnati Area president (2010-2012), voter service chair, nominating committee chair, action chair, webmaster, and Ohio’s SmartVoter coordinator. She helped found Act One, a local initiative that encourages those who are 18-35 to join the League. Melissa served on the LWV Ohio board from 2009-2010 and on LWVUS Young People Task Force as co-chair from 2012-2014. Melissa is committed to the mission of the League because of our important work in voter protection.
Melissa is the interactive media manager at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. In addition to the League, she currently serves on the boards of the Cincinnatus Association and the PRSA Cincinnati Chapter. She earned a bachelor’s in political science from Xavier University, a master’s in communication from The Ohio State University and an accreditation in public relations from the Universal Accreditation Board in 2013.
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 Director and now as Nominating Committee member. After serving two years as president of her local league, LWV Rochester Metro Area, she is currently chair of Membership as well as being a member of committees on Education and Poverty/Homelessness. 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 Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida and participates in their book club. Georgia has had the pleasure of welcoming her three daughters into the League and two grandsons. The older one has introduced the League to the local community college Student Life Center with whom they are collaborating in promoting civic responsibility among the students.
Linda Duckworth is the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Nebraska and currently serves as the LWVNE Energy Director. She served the national League of Women Voters for two years as Chair of the nominating committee and has held numerous offices in the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha, including president. Other volunteer efforts include the American Association of University Women, the Jane Austen Society of North America, and Hospice. Her work life found her in schools teaching English and Speech, and in libraries developing children’s programming. She and her husband Charlie live in Omaha. They have three children and three grandchildren.
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.
Judy has 38 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, as president and working full time at the local medical center (now retired). Community activities range from educational, children's groups, civic/service oriented, parliamentary procedures, and political. Hobbies and fun activities: playing bridge, reading, working out in the gym, hiking, knitting, traveling the world and spending time with her husband, two sons and two grandsons. Judy and her husband recently completed a summer home in Montana.
The best aspect of being a Ruth Shur Fellow is leading from other national and state coaches and the national staff. The MLD is an exciting program that can spark enthusiasm throughout or organization. My personal goal is to share with others this knowledge and enthusiasm!
Therese had an issue in 1990--healthcare reform. She had just moved to Washington State and was searching for a competent voice in changing the US healthcare equation. She settled on the Seattle League. Therese served on the Board, and as VP of Action and chair of the Microedit and National 2- year Healthcare Reform studies. Her League highlight came in 1995, when she served as delegate to the 4th UN NGO Conference on Women in Beijing. Scratching an unrequited adolescent itch to join the Peace Corp, Therese eventually left her law practice for Senegal and South Africa to work on HIV prevention/treatment and health systems. She currently manages the Research & Analysis section of WA Dept. of Health's Office of Community Health Systems. Therese deeply respects the League's "heft" and has co-coached Utah and Colorado with the inestimable Lottie Fox for a year of intellectual BIG fun!
Penny is a philanthropy professional and a certified professional coach with a masters in business. She has 30 years of experience in managing philanthropy programs as a volunteer, director of development, campaign director, consultant, and board member.
She founded PS Harris Associates in 2001 serving many nonprofits. In 2012 she was trained as a professional coach at the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC). She is certified by GISC and the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and founded Renewable Philanthropy in 2013. She coaches professionals to create successful and sustainable philanthropy programs. Penny currently serves on the Creative Portland Board of Directors in Portland, Maine. She served on the LVWUS board as director and treasurer. She also served as LWV of Maine President and as Trustee for 10 year appointment to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.
While nearing retirement in 2000, Diana finally joined LWV of Wake County, NC where she later chaired the education committee and was a facilitator for Study Circles. From 2006 to 2008 during her tenure as president she focused on coalition building and the LWVUS Running & Winning program that promotes public service by bringing together young women and elected female officials. In June of 2009, the Haskells relocated to Bethesda, MD, giving her the opportunity to become a volunteer member of the LWVUS Lobby Corps. She has been a Ruth S. Shur Fellow/National Coach since 2010 working first with the state leagues of PA and WV and currently serving with VA and DC.
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. She is also learning Modern Hebrew. Marcia’s Scottie dog thinks she should take him for more walks and her husband thinks they should go to more movies.
Amy is 32 years old and lives in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula with her husband and two sons. Gabriel is six years old and Lucas is three years old. Before motherhood, Amy was in the U.S. Coast Guard training Coasties on boat handling, saving the lives of recreational boaters, chasing drug runners, and regulating fishing vessels on the west coast of Oregon and California. After military service Amy earned an A.A. in Liberal Arts, a B.S. in Social Science, and an M.S. in Political Science. Amy founded a Member-at-Large League in Michigan (LWVEUP) in 2013, and she is currently the co-President. Amy also served on the LWVUS Young People Task Force and on LWVC Initiative and Referendum Study. Outside of League, Amy helps with the United Way of EUP, her local library, St. Mary's Catholic School, Coast Guard Spouses (local community group), Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) and Great Start Parents' Coalition, and she serves on a Sault Sainte Marie City Commission appointed Community Service Board. Amy is in her second year of serving as a LWVUS National Coach/Shur Fellow and is grateful for the opportunity to help other Leagues grow and develop members and League leaders.
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.
Caroline de Llamas
Caroline has been a League member since 1968 when she joined the Tulare County League, and has held most portfolios at the local League level, including that of President. She is currently on the board of the East San Gabriel Valley League
At the state level, she held the position of Secretary for two terms, and served on the Executive and Personnel Committees. She was one of two board representatives to the 2009 and 2011 LWVC Nominating Committees, and is Chair of the LWVC Nominating Committee for the 2013—2015 term.
Caroline also serves as the Southern Coordinator for the LWVC Management Training Advisor Program (MTAs), and is the MTA for four local Leagues. She previously participated in the LWVUS MRI P Program and coached five California Leagues.
A retired Professional City Clerk/Treasurer, she has a consulting business to provide Interim Municipal Clerk Services to California cities. She is a past president of the City Clerks Association of California and holds membership in various professional organizations, including the National Association of Parliamentarians.
Caroline resides in Covina, California with her husband Lloyd de Llamas. They have two daughters and two grand cats.
Deborah Macmillan is now on the board and has been president and voters service chair of the League of Women Voters of East Windsor-Hightstown. She has also served as president of LWVNJ and chair of the LWVNJ Committee on Immigration, and served on the LWVUS study committee on immigration. She is retired from careers in experimental psychology, survey/market research, and canoeing. She loves the intensity and diversity of the Leagues and 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 their 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, AZ, she had been President of local Leagues in Phoenix, AZ and Greeley, CO and was Secretary on the CO state board for five years. She was Voter Editor in Omaha, NE. She has lived in Tucson for 22 years and has been President of the local League for 4 years plus other board roles. She was President of the LWVAZ for four years and secretary for the past eight years. She is the state lobbyist at this time. She has attended 21 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.
In the real world, Gini has been a secretary in several insurance and real estate agencies, a daily newspaper typesetter insurance salesperson, realtor in Phoenix, Kelly Girls in Omaha. She and her husband (of 63 years) have one daughter and two grandsons living in Tucson. Gini spends time reading and tracking bills in the legislature.
Eileen has been a League member since 1977 when se re-settled back into life in CA after 12 years living overseas. Not being able to impact living conditions in a country where she was a visitor made her very aware of the need to be active in civic organizations and the League fulfilled that need very well especially at the local level. She has done just about every job in the League, some more than once, both in CA and more recently in her local League of Pittsburgh PA. The role that all previous "training" in League has led her to has been to be a Shur Fellow. She has learned so much and is delighted to be associated with such an innovative and forward looking program. Her husband John is her great support and, having been in the League for almost as long as she, has been a frequent By-Laws reviewer and successful grant writer for the League.
Haley Richards has been an active member of the LWV Pensacola Bay Area for 7 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 best practices can help Leagues grow new members and develop leaders. As a Shur Fellow, Haley is excited to continue supporting the Leagues efforts to build organizational capacity and ensure future sustainability to make democracy work.
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 with the Escambia County School District as a Social Studies Teacher at Pensacola High School. Community involvement includes: Escambia Area Council for Social Studies, Pensacola Young Professionals Pensacola Professional Development Institute, Toastmasters Club member, and was named a 2014 Rising Star by the Independent News.
JoAnn is currently a member of the LWV Baltimore County, Maryland. Before moving to Maryland from Buffalo NY in 2011, she was active in the League of Women Voters both on the local and state level serving as past 1st Vice President of the Buffalo-Niagara LWV and serving on the New York State League of Women Voters Board where she was the Citizen Education and Youth Program Director. JoAnn’s work with the League has also included serving as moderator for numerous candidate forums for various local and state government positions, chairing the Buffalo Niagara Regional Water Issues Committee and an Interstate Committee, the LWV Lake Erie Basin Committee which focused on Air and Water Quality Issues affecting the Great Lakes. JoAnn is currently a Director on the Maryland LWV State Board and the LWV Baltimore County Board. She also serves as the LWV Baltimore County Chair of the Membership/MLD Program.
JoAnn is retired from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) where she worked as Community Action Coordinator for the International Union in Washington, D.C. In that position she created coalitions with religious and community organizations across the country and developed lobbying strategies on issues of concern to public employees. She also worked as the New York State Education Coordinator for AFSCME in Albany where she developed and conducted education and training programs on an array of issues. She has also served on the Boards of the Consumer Federation of America, the Employee Assistance Society of America, and the National Crime Prevention Coalition.
JoAnn is married, has four children and five grandchildren. Keeping track of family and their activities is a challenge as they currently reside in California, Ohio, France and Mexico.
Elizabeth Santeramo joined the League in 2008, and after hearing a survivor share her story at a UN briefing, Elizabeth realized that human trafficking was her League issue. As Publicity Chair, she wrote op-eds and organized a community forum, partnering with a Montclair State University student group. Elizabeth was appointed to LWVNJ as a state board member and as chair, Women & Family Issues Committee, where a state forum on trafficking sparked a call-to-action by NJ local leagues, and LWVNJ later joined the NJ Coalition against Human Trafficking as a member organization, where Elizabeth also volunteered.
At the 2012 national LWVUS convention, Elizabeth made a motion for a national study on human trafficking, which did not pass. At the 2013 LWVNJ state convention, Elizabeth made a motion for a state study, passing unanimously. A LWVNJ position was adopted. In 2014, the LWVUS national board asked for concurrence with the LWVNJ position at the national convention. Leagues across the U. S. now have a toolkit for what League does best: Advocate.
For NJ Super Bowl 2014, Elizabeth reached out to survivor, Theresa Flores, who trained 450 volunteers for SOAP-Up NJ, where hotel/motel managers received “soaps” with the trafficking hotline number, missing children posters, and facts about sex trafficking. Media coverage of raids and arrests ensued, and two missing children were identified by hotel managers.
Elizabeth also briefly served as an Alternate UN Observer and currently chairs the Women & Family Issues Committee for her local league. She has organized forums on violence and addiction/alcoholism, is embarking on introducing a bill for families, and for fun, she also organized a walking tour of African American history in Montclair as well as a visit to the Alice Paul Institute, both of which included history of past League members.
Katie Wadas Thalken joined the League in Omaha, NE in 2013 and has quickly become an active member. She serves on the Membership and Recruitment committee and was just appointed to the Vice President of Membership for the LWV-Nebraska to help recruit Members at Large throughout the state of Nebraska. Katie is interested in environmental issues, as well as healthcare and education.
In her professional life, Katie works in higher education, currently overseeing academic success and retention for health sciences students at Creighton University. Katie has a bachelor's degree in English from Creighton and a master's in college student personnel and counseling from the University of Maryland--College Park. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. from Creighton University in education and leadership.
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 Julia Dieperink at JDieperink@lwv.org.