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Welcome to the Dearborn, MI Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)!

AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Founded in 1881, AAUW is open to graduates with an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in college.  Dues support the operations of the Dearborn-Michigan branch, founded in 1933, as well as the state and national organizations.

Heart to Heart

15_heartdisease  U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, along with 11 other women Senators, urges the Administration to combat heart disease, the number one killer of women in Michigan. One-out-of-three women die of heart disease, and Michigan is the 8th worst state in the country for deaths from this preventable-treatable disease.          The bipartisan-women Senators recognize that women’s heart disease continues to be under-researched, sometimes misdiagnosed, and often untreated because heart distress is more difficult to diagnose in women than men.         Senator Stabenow clarifies that “When we help educate women and their doctors to create more opportunities for women to get screenings and get more money for research, we can fight this disease and save lives.” She has long advocated for better research, funding and education around women’s heart disease.

Time, Talent and Treasure

-1Today is National Philanthropy Day; so here’s wishing that all AAUW members have a Happy National Philanthropy Day!

Philanthropy is one of the four mainstays of our mission. Research, education, advocacy constitute the other three.

The word philanthropy derives from Latin out of Greek. It means “mankind-loving.” So, it follows that if one loves humanity, one is going to do all that is possible to improve the conditions of our fellow travelers here on Earth.

The day received its moniker in 1986, and the season chosen seems particularly apt. The middle of November signals that two-huge, American holidays are near: Thanksgiving and Christmas. During November and December, the spirit of giving is always boosted.

Think of all the giving, volunteering, service and charitable interactions that shape our world for the better, that improve the public good. The positive impact upon communities is simply beyond measure. Foundations, corporations, government employees, individuals and even children honor and improve lives with their efforts.

So, even though you may not be recognized publicly, know that you are thanked and appreciated for everything you do to help us succeed in funding our endeavors. This organization is indebted to each-and-every member for its successes.

R.I.P. Sylvia

-1Unfortunately, AAUW-Dearborn has lost another longtime branch member.  Sylvia Rock, age 89, died November 9, 2014, after suffering a stroke.

Her funeral service took place this morning at Divine Child Church, of which she had been a founding member.

Sylvia was an active branch member for many years. As she was an astute manager of money, we all benefited from her knowledge when she served as branch treasurer.

She earned her bachelors degree from Marygrove College and her masters from University of Michigan.

She had been married to husband Robert for sixty-seven years! Together they had five sons, one of whom predeceased her. In recent years, she resided at Oakwood Common.

As a longtime Dearborn resident, she had served on the Dearborn Historical Commission. She also was sister in the “Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships, grants, awards and loans; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.”

With gratitude to our big-hearted members

o-GENEROSITY-facebookSo far this year, specifically at the end of the third quarter, AAUW members in Michigan have contributed $32,151.63 to AAUW-national funds this year.

The Dearborn branch and a dozen, individual members contributed $1,593.00 or 4.9% to that total. By the way, in the State of Michigan, there are nearly 3,000 members in 38 branches.

The branch itself donated $608 to support the Legal Advocacy Fund.
The branch itself donated $500 to support the Eleanor Roosevelt Fund.
The branch itself donated $50 to support the Leadership Programs Fund.
The branch itself donated $50 to support the Educational Opportunities Fund.

In addition, June Anderson, Carolyn Blackmore, Sharon Dulmage, Betty Gruntman, Carmen Gudan, Chris Hilbush, Eleanor LaRoy, Dolores Markowski, Diana Marx, Melinda Reeber, Phyllis Solberg, and Louise Trujillo contributed to AAUW Funds to add the rest.

So whether you helped us raise funds in our book sale or during table appeals or at Mistletoe Mart, we thank you for your efforts. Philanthropy is one of four central aspects in our mission.

You may want to consider ameliorating Uncle Sam’s burden by writing a check in favor of a favorite fund before the New Year arrives to enjoy a little tax relief.

Election Barriers Broken


  • North Carolina in a special-election victory determined that Alma Adams becomes the 100th-woman member of the current 113th Congress.
  • West Virginia and Iowa elected women to the U.S. Senate for the first time.
  • Iowa also elected a woman to Congress for the first time.
  • Rhode Island elected its first-woman governor.
  • New Jersey sent its first-African-American woman to the House.
  • Utah elected Mia Love, the first-Republican, African-American woman, to Congress.
  • Elise Stefanik, age 30, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
  • There are now 20 women in the U.S. Senate and 80 in the House of Representatives.


Synchronicity in Mpenzi

feature_mainA friend called this morning and reported a wee furor generated on her Facebook Page after she had made a few pertinent observations about the midterm elections this past Tuesday. After our discussion ended, the refrain from Dionne Warwick’s decades-old, pop hit began looping in my brain:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No not just for some but for everyone

Then in a lovely bit of synchronicity I opened an email from the Detroit Zoo which included a press release about the name chosen for a male-reticulated giraffe born at the end of September. Chosen, in an online vote-by-donation contest, was the Swahili word for “love,” Mpenzi. Try saying it aloud. It rolls off the tongue in a most delicious way: MMM-pen-zee!

That brought to mind the central thesis in Alice Walker’s 20th Annual, Zora Neale Hurston lecture last night at the Hill Auditorium. Walker kept stressing the need to increase the power of love and compassion in a world fraught with prejudices, hatreds, and violence. Here are just three quotations from her writings that may help us as we struggle with the fraught decay of the human condition today.

“HELPED are those who love the entire cosmos rather than their own tiny country, city, or farm, for to them will be shown the unbroken web of life and the meaning of infinity.”

“‘Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.’”

“‘The more I wonder, the more I love.’”

In her honor, let’s all try to approach others, even complete strangers, with conscious affection, tenderness and delight.


Speak Up

voteLess than one-hundred years ago, no woman in the United States of America could vote. On Tuesday, no woman should miss out on this privilege!

Many suffered enormously to grant us this right. During WWI, thirty-three women were jailed for picketing the White House as they protested not having the right to vote. They were charged with, and convicted of, “obstructing sidewalk traffic”!

Guards beat Lucy Burns. They chained her hands above her head and left her dangling overnight, as she bled and gasped for air. As guards tossed Dora Lewis into a cell, her head collided with an iron cot which knocked her out. Descriptions in affidavits about what additional women endured employ vivid-action verbs. Guards “grabbed, dragged, beat, choked, slammed, pinched, twisted and kicked.” However, these strong-determined women stood up to the guards’ vicious tirades!

In November of 1917, the infamous warden of the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered guards to teach the imprisoned suffragists a lesson. For weeks, drinking water was available only from an open pail. For weeks, worms infested food rations.

As a response, Alice Paul went on a hunger strike. Subsequently, guards tied her down, inserted a feeding tube and force fed her until regurgitation seized ahold of her. For weeks, she endured this torment. Powerful politicians even employed a psychiatrist in an effort to prove her insanity. Fortunately, the good doctor was a man of integrity and reminded those that had hired him that a woman being strong and brave does not mean she is crazy!

Today an historical marker outside the workhouse, reads in part: “Their courage and dedication during harsh treatment aroused the nation to hasten the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The struggle for woman’s suffrage had taken 72 years.”

Watching the motion picture, IRON JAWED ANGELS which stars Hilary Swank, can remind you how important voting is. For women today, voting should be viewed as nothing less than a sacrosanct obligation!

The video of IRON JAWED ANGELS is available for check-out at the Dearborn Public Library. Last August, AAUW-Dearborn in partnership with the League of Women Voters -Dearborn/Dearborn Heights and the Dearborn Public Library marked National Women’s Equality Day by sponsoring a free viewing of the acclaimed 2004 drama. It’s a compelling motion picture worth revisiting and sharing with others, especially the young who may not be aware of the struggle for suffrage.

Never Waste an Opportunity

Michelle_MunsonThe following is a brief synthesis of what Michelle Munson, C.E.O. of Aspera, a unit of IBM, declares essential to a successful career:

1.  Nothing replaces being competent.

2.  Get really good at what you do in your field. Stretch yourself through internships, projects and activities.

3.  Respect from others and your ability to contribute are keys to opportunity.

4.  Actually “doing”  proves your value.

5.  It is easy to criticize, but critical thinking can be extremely useful if it leads to independent thinking.

6.  Skill and competence allow critical thinking to find creative solutions.

7.  The real challenge is how to solve something, to seize the opportunity to make something better with available resources.

Good advice for students, activists, and careerists!


AAUW-Dearborn Salutes Michelle Merrill

Merrill-Headshot-1-213x300At the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween Young People’s Concert yesterday, the coveted, winning-costume award went to a girl dressed up as a CEO of a major corporation. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Read the following press release from the DSO to discover yet another woman is breaking the proverbial-glass ceiling.

Following a nationwide search, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has selected Michelle Merrill, 30, as Assistant Conductor. She will relocate to Detroit from Jacksonville, Fla. where she guest conducts the Jacksonville Symphony. Merrill fills the position vacated earlier this year by Teddy Abrams, who recently began his inaugural season as Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra.

Merrill’s first appearance onstage with the DSO will be an Education Concert Series performance on Nov. 12. “Michelle impressed everyone with her musicality,” said DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin. “Both in conducting the orchestra and in the interview phases she exhibited all the qualities that the DSO embraces and will be an outstanding addition to the community.”

As Assistant Conductor, Merrill will act as cover conductor for all classical series concerts, as well as conduct DSO’s Young People’s Family Concerts, Education Concert Series programs, and occasional Pops series programs.

“I am honored and beyond thrilled to be joining the DSO family,” said Merrill. “Having the opportunity to work with the extraordinary musicians of the orchestra and world-renowned Music Director Leonard Slatkin is a dream come true. I cannot wait to be a part of making the DSO the most accessible orchestra on the planet, as well as an orchestra committed to bringing culture, art, and creativity to the citizens of metro Detroit and beyond.”

The Rochester City Newspaper declared her to be one of the “up and coming conductors of note.” A passionate-dynamic artist, Merrill was awarded the prestigious Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship in 2013 by members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the American Austrian Foundation, which enabled her to be in residence at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival.  Merrill made her debut with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in September, 2014. This past spring, she stepped in on short notice with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra for their performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, which the Dallas Morning News described as “stunning”.

Previous praise came from her conducting of Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 with the Rochester Philharmonic: “with the natural grace of a prima ballerina, Merrill knows what she wants and how to achieve it. Merrill’s conducting took her full body in wide sweeps, making connections, seemingly, with each individual musician. Merrill’s phrasing of the Schubert was utterly proper in style and form.

Born in Dallas, Texas,, Merrill studied conducting with Dr. Paul C. Phillips at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, where she holds a Master of Music Degree in conducting and a Bachelor of Music in performance.

Help End Violence; Empower Women

vawa-campaign-imagePlease read this appeal about Kori Cioca, formerly a service- woman in the United States Coast Guard who was raped by her commanding officer. It’s from Linda D. Hallman, CAE, Executive Director of AAUW.

When she (Kori) tried to call out for help, he hit her so brutally that he dislocated her jaw. Despite the atrocious nature of this crime, her attacker went unpunished. This is just one example of the violence too many women face everyday.

AAUW, a leader on this issue, has confronted violence against women for decades. For instance, AAUW was instrumental in passing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women (VAWA) Act. AAUW staff  were among those called to testify before Congress. The reauthorization included most of the Campus SaVE Act designed to help increase safety on college campuses.

AAUW supports the new It’s on Us campaign developed by the White House in an effort to shift the way Americans view campus sexual assault and to end blaming victims for the crimes perpetrated against them.

Now we need to support the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act. It could change the way the epidemic of sexual assault is handled by the military.

AAUW recognizes its responsibility and has the clout and the power to shape the future of this country. Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to national AAUW today to help end violence against women.