Our Mission

The League of Women Voters of Ames, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Vision, Beliefs, and Intentions: The principles that guide our organization

The goal of the League of Women Voters is to empower citizens to shape better communities worldwide.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political membership organization which:

  • acts after study and member agreement to achieve solutions in the public interest on key community issues at all government levels
  • builds citizen participation in the democratic process. engages communities in promoting positive solutions to public policy issues through education and advocacy.

The League of Women Voters Education Fund is a nonpartisan public policy educational organization which:

  • builds citizen participation in the democratic process
  • studies key community issues at all governmental levels in an unbiased manner
  • enables people to seek positive solutions to public policy issues through education and conflict management.

We believe in:

  • Respect for individuals
  • The value of diversity
  • The empowerment of the grassroots, both within the League and in communities

We will:

  • act with trust, integrity and professionalism
  • operate in an open and effective manner to meet the needs of those we serve, both members and the public
  • take the initiative in seeking diversity in membership
  • acknowledge our heritage as we seek our path to the future.

Our Mission and Roles

The League of Women Voters has two separate and distinct roles.

  • Voter Education: we present unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and issues.
  • Action/Advocacy: we are also nonpartisan, but, after study, we use our positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.

Voter Education: We make voting easier through varied voter education programs.

The League of Women Voters Education Fund conducts voter service and citizen education activities. It is a nonpartisan nonprofit public policy educational organization, which:

  • Builds citizen participation in the democratic process.
  • Studies key community issues at all government levels in an unbiased manner.
  • Enables people to seek positive solutions to public policy issues through education and conflict management.

Action and Advocacy: We are truly a grassroots organization

The League of Women Voters takes action on an issue or advocates for a cause when there is an existing League position that supports the issue or speaks to the cause.

Positions result from a process of study. Any given study, whether it be National, State, or Local, is thorough in its pursuit of facts and details. As the study progresses, a continuing discussion of pros and cons of each situation occurs. Prior to the results of the study being presented to the general membership, study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then addressed by the membership.

Additional discussion, pro and con, takes place as members (not part of the study committee) learn the scope of the study. After the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus.

It is the consensus statement -- the statement resulting from the consensus questions -- that becomes a position. Firm action or advocacy can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action/advocacy cannot be taken.

Through this study process the Ames League adopts position on the Local level.

State and National Leagues' follow the same procedure to adopt State of Iowa and National Positions.

Consensus/group discussion is the technique most often used in the League for reaching member agreement. It is a process whereby members participate in a group discussion of an issue. The consensus reached by members through group discussion is not a simple majority, nor is it unanimity; rather it is the overall sense of the group as expressed through the exchange of ideas and opinions, whether in a membership meeting or a series of membership or unit meetings.

About The League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters is strictly nonpartisan; it neither supports nor opposes candidates for office at any level of government. At the same time, the League is wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy. It is the original grassroots citizen network, directed by the consensus of its members nationwide. The 900 state and local Leagues comprise a vast grassroots lobby corps working at the national, state and local levels that can be mobilized when necessary.

As a non partisan political organization, the League of Women Voters has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League's enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure.

Over time, the League’s legislative priorities change to reflect the needs of society and critical issues of concern. The organization remains true to its basic purpose: to make democracy work for all citizens. The League of Women Voters makes a difference in the lives of citizens because of the energy and passion of thousands of members committed to our principles.

For information about State of Iowa League please go to http://www.lwvia.org or contact its President: Bonnie Pitz dbpitz@iowatelecom.net.

To find more about the National League go to their site, http://www.lwv.org/

The League's History - National and Local

In her address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) 50th convention in St. Louis, Missouri, President Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the creation of a "league of women voters to finish the fight and aid in the reconstruction of the nation."  Women Voters was formed within the NAWSA, composed of the organizations in the states where suffrage had already been attained.

The next year, on February 14, 1920 - six months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified - the League was formally organized in Chicago as the national League of Women Voters. Catt described the purpose of the new organization:

"The League of Women Voters is not to dissolve any present organization but to unite all existing organizations of women who believe in its principles.  It is not to lure women from partisanship but to combine them in an effort for legislation which will protect coming movements, which we cannot even foretell, from suffering the untoward conditions which have hindered for so long the coming of equal suffrage.  Are the women of the United States big enough to see their opportunity?"

Maud Wood Park became the first national president of the League and thus the first League leader to rise to the challenge. She had steered the women's suffrage amendment through Congress in the last two years before ratification and liked nothing better than legislative work. From the very beginning, however, it was apparent that the legislative goals of the League were not exclusively focused on women's issues and that citizen education aimed at all of the electorate was in order.

Since its inception, the League has helped millions of women and men become informed participants in government. In fact, the first league convention voted 69 separate items as statements of principle and recommendations for legislation. Among them were protection for women and children, right of working women, food supply and demand, social hygiene, the legal status of women, and American citizenship.The League's first major national legislative success was the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act providing federal aid for maternal and child care programs.  In the 1930's, League members worked successfully for enactment of the Social Security and Food and Drug Acts. Due at least in part to League efforts, legislation passed in 1938 and 1940 removed hundreds of federal jobs from the spoils system and placed them under Civil Service.

During the postwar period, the League helped lead the effort to establish the United Nations and to ensure U.S. Participation. The League was one of the first organizations in the country officially recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization; it still maintains official observer status today.

See also League History from the League of Women Voters of the US.

The Ames Connection: A dynamic beginning

Carrie Chapman Catt, long-standing leader of the women's  suffrage movement and 1880 graduate of the present Iowa State University, brought the League of Women Voters to life in 1919. Her purpose was to harness the political energy of millions of women who were working diligently for the right to vote. Mrs. Catt envisioned an organization dedicated to informed citizen participation in government and to advocacy for progressive legislation on carefully studied issues.

The Ames League was founded in 1933 by local women who shared Carrie Chapman Catt's vision. Today its members are men and women, citizens over 18, who share common goals with others across the country. It is an integral part of the community, state and national levels.

We Stimulate Democracy

The essence of democracy is informed citizen participation in government. The Ames League publicizes and observes city board and commission meetings, registers voters, sponsors candidate for­ums for local elections, hosts meetings where citizens can question area state representatives and senators during the legislative session, and provides free guides to county, city and school government.

The community de­pends on the League to monitor the open meet­ings law. The League remains neutral about candidates and knowledgeable about issues. Citizens expect the League to provide infor­mation about election laws and procedures.
The League of Women Voters, because of its reputation for fairness and objectivity, is often called to convene community forums on issues of local concern.  The Ames League also works at the local educating policy makers and the general public on pressing issues and takes concerted action to bring about positive change.
The Ames League has been in the forefront of many changes which citizens take for granted today. Imagine what Ames would be like without …

  • Cy-Ride
  • Minimum health and safety housing code
  • Resource Recovery Plant
  • Greenbelt of Story County
  • Expanded Ames Public Library
  • 13th Street fire station
  • Covered garbage trucks!
  • Municipal Utility Plant with citizen board
  • Long-term, comprehensive Land Use Plan
  • All-America City designation
  • Consolidated City Hall

Advocacy works when study leads to action.  Members participate in study groups, attend information meetings, speak their minds, observe meetings or reg­ister voters, and develop leadership talents and sharpen their skills.