Over 50 women attended the April meeting of the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco Island (DWCM) to discuss regional, state, and national political issues. DWCM was pleased to have in attendance high school representatives from Girl’s Learn International (GLI), a club based out of Marco Island Academy. During the 2016-2017 school year, three young women, Lauren Johnson, Lauren DeHooghe and Chelsea Casabona established the chapter at the school. Since the club’s initiation, the members of GLI have focused on empowering young students to become strong leaders in the community. They’ve met with individuals such as Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American politician from Minnesota, and attended the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. GLI is focused on global issues with specific regards to women’s rights.
DWCM also welcomed guest speaker Kathy Mayo, president of the Fort Myers and Naples chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Mayo is a Florida native, activist and librarian living in Naples. She has worked extensively with Florida’s institutions including prisons and with the intellectually disabled. She hosts literary discussions in communities across the state. She says her best piece of advice is to, “Always take the back roads” when driving around Florida because there’s so much culture and wildlife to see.
The National Organization for Women was founded in 1966 as the grassroots arm of the women’s liberation movement. The organization currently operates 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Mayo spoke of the history of NOW and its place within contemporary politics, shedding light on Florida’s rich history of influential women. Finally, Mayo noted the importance of continuing to work together across women’s groups, and other political and social organizations, to advance positive change.
Sara McFadden, Democratic candidate for Florida State Representative/House District 106, also gave a presentation. A resident of Naples, McFadden is a former administrator and small business owner who retired to Collier County in 2011. She has since been involved in her neighborhood and the fire commission changes, and served as a Lieutenant in the Marco Island Power Squadron. She gave an update on efforts to gather 1,100 petitions to help secure her place on the ballot this November. Many members of the club have pitched in getting petitions signed.
The goal of the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco is to raise awareness of policy matters pertaining to all and to encourage and support those qualified individuals to seek elected office. The club hosts monthly meetings, socials, as well as coffees and candidate “meet and greets.”
At a recent meeting, the club hosted David Holden, who hopes to oppose incumbent Francis Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. Next month, the club will hear from Todd Truax, another Democratic challenger for Florida’s 19th. Representatives from GLI of Marco Island Academy will also present.