President’s Message

A Letter from our incoming President for 2020/21

Dear AAUW NW Valley Members,

Feeling left out because we aren’t meeting, lunching, handshaking and hugging?  Discouraged because programs, meetings and fund-raising all face situational change?  Wondering “should I renew”?  The anonymous quote cautions: “Never ask to live in interesting times…”  Yet, here we are kicking-off our 40th year in interesting times.

AAUW isn’t just today’s meetings, programs, luncheons, or committees.  Established in 1881, it is university women supporting each other and advocating for women and girls in past and present interesting times.  Looks like I need to change my perspective from “up-close-and-personal” to a long view.

New ideas and social change emerge from difficult times.  The Spanish Flu Pandemic 100 years ago birthed medical stock-piling, blood donations, and an expanded role for public health.  Women still got the vote.  Families endured the Great Depression and made penny-pinching into a lifestyle.  Both WW I and WW II opened vast workplace opportunities to women.  9/11 got us new airport check-in protocols.  Hum.  What social changes will come from Corona Virus times?  Could handshakes and hugs disappear?

I’ll share what I see right now:

  • Science is regaining its rightful place. Professionals are establishing the facts of the pandemic.
  • My personal ability to connect digitally is accelerating. Zoom is my favorite gathering spot.
  • Our AAUW mission of advancing gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy remains strong.
  • Our NW Valley AAUW Branch scholarships for six women are funded for this year.
  • Our branch is populated with amazing, energetic university women…like YOU!

We share values, vision and mission as well as friendship.  Through e-blasts, e-mail, web-sites and phoning, members will stay connected.  We will solicit your ideas.  Until we can meet safely in person again, NW Valley AAUW Branch will digitally enhance our relationship with you in our 40th year.

Sincere best wishes for your health and safety
Sharon-Lee Astle
NW Valley AAUW Branch 2020-21

P.S.  Coming up – look for our Hear ‘U’ / See ‘U’ survey and calls and finding the greatest 1980’s photo of  ‘U’!P.P.S.  Yes, Renew now on-line on AAUW’s  National’s web site or send your $90 check to AAUW, Finance V.P. Melva Hull, 22827 N Arrellaga, Sun City West, AZ 85375


Spring 2020


Greetings to ALL and I am hopeful you are all safe and healthy during this horrific CoVid19 pandemic. As we have needed to suspend all planned activities for our NWV Branch, I remain optimistic that our branch will do all we can to promote the guidelines set forth by our Governor Ducey and our President by STAYING IN PLACE, practicing social distancing of 6 feet to eliminate unnecessary exposure. This has meant we had to cancel all activities and large gatherings that were planned to bring my year of service to a close. During this time we all have learned a lot about what is necessary in our lives and what is not, as well as the importance of living each day in a healthy safe environment free of germs and full of disinfectants. Needless to say, we have learned to do things differently. I believe that we will be continuing to learn and do things differently in the future as well and I am doubtful that we will ever be able to go back to the way things were.

Looking back over this past year, we did manage to get an awful lot of activities and projects in though our year was shortened. That happened because of our phenomenal members’ willingness to take charge and lead each event towards a successful conclusion and is a testament to our mettle and resolve. Through the meticulous leadership of Ann Mitchell and her team we managed to host a fantastic FALL FORUM here in our own community. Ann and Joye Kohl formed a team and co-chaired our College Connections now including 4 liaison teams for advancing the leadership for Glendale, Estrella Mountain, Rio Salada Community Colleges and Ottawa University.  Together they also collaborated with several organizations and community to plan events that would help celebrate the passing of the 19th Amendment for the 100th year and promote Woman’s Suffrage and its’ history. Though unable to gather for some of the many final planned events due to the pandemic, I am quite sure that they will be forging ahead creating ways that all of those efforts and preparations will be utilized in our near future. We can’t wait to see many of those plans come back into existence once again. A HUGE thanks to ANN and your team.

In addition, our Public Policy Chair, Becky Sayler and her team brought about significant progress in promoting Voter awareness in our surrounding communities with her Dr. Seuss, One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote You Vote project which taught the importance of voting in Peoria Unified and Dysart School District 5th Grade classrooms. In addition, her team educated us on the dangers and safeguards in our technology world, as well as Student Debt and a reading across America project scheduling members from our Branch with opportunities to read in the classrooms at Dysart in celebration of Dr. Seuss week which you will see in this newsletter.  Thank you, Becky for your continued public policy projects.

We were extremely fortunate to undertake TWO Major Fundraising Projects this year. The first took place in December as a Rummage Sale chaired by Sharon Lee Astle and her legion for managing to raise approximately $3,500 profit dollars for our Branch. Our second was “20’s Salute: Swing With Bling” Fashion Show chaired by Stephanie Rogall and Mary Jo Blum and successfully provided $6,000 for our Scholarship Fund. THANK YOU CHAIRS and to all who participated to bring about these fabulous fundraisers helping reinforce our funding. This funding helped our Scholarship Committee under, the leadership of Lu Marchese to continue to draw in new applications for rewarding students throughout our valley with some scholarship funds.  This year we awarded one to Holly McCutcheon in addition to the maintaining of 5 others and are now securing applications for another full time scholarship as well as 2 part-time scholarships that will be awarded before fall classes resume.

Our awesome Program Chair, Karen Bunting brought to our branch an amazing variety of Programs ranging from artificial intelligence, talking to your Doctor, to Navajo Code Talkers continuing to expand our knowledge and educate us with expanded interests. They all were excellent and informative. Our fantastic Membership Chairs Beryl Flathman-Braaten and Linda Styrwoll continued to gather record numbers of new members which brought us the title of now being the LARGEST branch in our State of AZ. What a phenomenal job they have done to bring these incredibly talented new members into our branch.

Now, as we begin looking towards our new leadership team taking over and continuing the destiny of our branch I hope each and every one of you will dig in, renew your memberships and look forward towards an even better year beginning in the fall. The pandemic has amplified the importance of retaining membership at such a crucial time when our nation’s economic challenges will be evermore exacerbating. We will need to continue to be persistent in helping ensure that our women and their families can become economically secure. Our mission is even more important now fighting for righting the inequities of women and girls in the 21st century. Through the leadership of so very many expert and talented Chairs and a new leadership team, we will continue to enjoy a splendid and large offering of activities to inspire, challenge, and move us.

Needless to say, it has been a very busy year. I commend each and every member for their participation in all that we have accomplished with your excellent participation in the many tasks that were brought forward in order to master all of the above activities. None of it would have been possible without individual support and effort from all of our members. And there are so many more than named here who answered the calling to make this a successful year. I wish to thank each and every one of you. We truly were a masterful group of SHEroes. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making this a wonderful year.

These are extremely challenging times and I hope each and every one of us will reach out, help and inspire others to become the best we can be by looking for ways to stay the course and continue to help our neighbors, family and friends, with securing groceries and medications, finding meaningful ways to enjoy each day and spend our energy and time with expressions of love and caring and staying connected. We all can do more. MY MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE: stay healthy and stay safe. CHECK OUT our new links on our Webpage for ways we can all use to get through this. THANK YOU ALL for everything you continue to do to make us the BEST EVER. Now that we are the largest Branch in our State, let’s BE the LARGEST in extending good cheer and exceptional ways to move forward. AND don’t forget to share those great ideas with others.

Sharon Phelps, Outgoing President AAUW-NWV Branch 2019-2020