From outgoing President Karen Bojar:
I have very much enjoyed being President of Philadelphia NOW for the past eight years, but it’s time for a change, both for me personally and for the organization. We have an impressive team of officers, political action committee board members, and chapter activists who have done a great deal to advance feminist issues and raise the profile of Philadelphia NOW.
Six years go we started a political action committee to support our efforts to elect feminist candidates. Five years ago we set up the Philadelphia NOW Education Fund, a separately incorporated non-profit which supports our educational work. Our major effort in this area was the very successful, well attended 2006 Women of Color Conference chaired by Cindy Bass.
Our greatest challenge is attracting younger members who will remain committed to the organization. Many of the older progressive organizations are experiencing similar difficulties recruiting a younger generation of leaders who are committed to building the organization and staying involved through good times and bad.
It may be that a younger generation will build different organizations. However, a multi-issue, multi-strategy feminist organization that is active on the local, state, and national level is still very much needed.
Although the feminist movement has been extraordinarily successful, this success has not been shared equally. Women with economic privileges and access to elite educational institutions have made enormous strides in the professions, business, political and civic life. Of course there is still a glass ceiling in American life. However, many affluent white men have been willing to make room for their daughters--the same men who have fought the economic policies which would provide opportunities and a robust safety net for the majority of women in our society.
At this stage in its history, NOW must focus on expanding opportunities for the women who have not been the primary beneficiaries of the feminist movement—working class and low-income women, who are disproportionately women of color.
Lauren Townsend, who is running for chapter president is uniquely qualified to take on these challenges. She is committed to continuing and strengthening the partnership we have built with the Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). Lauren has often referred to herself as a member of the bridge generation, women in their 40’s who can relate to older feminists as well as to a younger generation of women in their teens, 20’s, and 30’s.
We are incredibly fortunate to have a candidate like Lauren, who has extensive experience as an activist, a deep understanding of feminist issues, and who is very well-known and highly regard by local progressive community.
Lauren understands that if our organization is to continue to exist it must do more to address issues of concern to young women, women of color and low-income and working class women. She has recruited a strong team of NOW veterans and active members who are new to NOW leadership. Under their leadership, I am very optimistic about the future of Philadelphia NOWPhila NOW Candidates
Lauren Townsend – President
Dee Johnson – Executive Vice President
Kathy Black – VP for Finance
Caryn Hunt – VP for Membership
Louise Francis – Treasurer
Terri Falbo – Secretary & Newsletter Producer
Francesca Alvarado – Representative to the State Board
Doris Pridgen – Representative to the State Board
Rosa Woods – Alternate Representative to the State Board
---------------------------------------------------------------------Lauren Townsend – President
Lauren Townsend has been doing progressive organizing and advocacy since she moved to Philadelphia in 1984. For the last three years, Lauren has worked in partnership with Lou Freimiller doing general political consulting. Townsend Freimiller Associates has been at the helm of a number of winning campaigns. Some of these were with candidates endorsed by by Philadelphia NOW PAC including: Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez; Superior Court Judge, Christine Donohue, State Representative Vanessa Brown and Democrat, Dawn Segal who was elected judge of Philadelphia's Municipal Court. Currently, Lauren and Lou are running Montgomery County Commissioner and former congressman, Joe Hoeffel's campaign for governor of Pennsylvania.
Before beginning her consulting business, Lauren was the Executive Director of Citizens for Consumer Justice (CCJ) for almost 10 years. CCJ was responsible for convening Pennsylvanians for a Fair and Independent Court that opposed the Alito nomination to the Supreme Court; coordinating the successful Pennsylvania arm of Americans United to Protect Social Security and the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities; registering over 25,000 new African American and Latino voters 2004; executing highly-publicized bus trips to Canada with seniors who couldn’t afford their prescription drugs; successfully fighting tort reform legislation through the pro-active Pennsylvania Safety and Justice Act; and convening the Patients Not Profits Coalition during the demise of the Allegheny Health System.
Lauren has also worked with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Pennsylvania Citizen Action, The Philadelphia Singers, The Clay Studio, New Jersey Citizen Action, Farm Workers Support Committee, Kensington Joint Action Council, Clara Bell Duvall Education Fund, NARAL-PA, Lutheran Settlement House Women’s Program and The League of Conservation Voters.
Lauren lives in West Philadelphia with her son, Alex , who is a junior at Central High School.
" I am honored to be asked to run for president of Philadelphia NOW," said Lauren Townsend. " If the membership of Philadelphia elects me and this incredible slate of women to the board, my top priorities will be, fundraising, aggressive recruitment of diverse young feminists, public and media relations about the campaigns on which we have been, and will be, working and solidifying our growing clout in elections"Dee Johnson – Executive Vice President
Dee Johnson is currently communications manager/managing editor for The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― the oldest prison reform organization in the world striving to advance a humane, just and constructive correctional system. A staunch advocate for prisoners and their families, she has been an integral part of a recent effort to establish legislation that bans the practice of shackling pregnant prisoners in Pennsylvania.
A native New Yorker, Dee Johnson worked with members of the New York State Legislature for nearly two decades on Albany’s Capitol Hill before relocating to Philadelphia a few years ago. She served several members, liaising with elected officials, the press, and representatives of government and community organizations to ensure that legislative goals and objectives were met. She also managed legislative affairs, researching, developing and introducing bills that would eventually become state law and help improve the quality of life of New York residents.
“I look forward to working with Lauren Townsend and Philadelphia NOW board members, taking action to change those practices that serve as barriers to a woman’s full participation in American society,” said Johnson. Kathy Black – VP for Finance
Kathy Black is running for her fourth term as VP for Finance of our Philadelphia Chapter. Her main duties are to organize the annual fundraiser with the President, and serve on the Executive Board. Kathy works as the Health and Safety Director for AFSCME District Council 47, representing professional and technical city employees. She is the President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the women's movement within the labor movement, which promotes many of the same issues as NOW. Kathy is also a national Co-Convenor of US Labor Against the War, the anti-war movement within the labor movement, founded in 2003. She serves on several other community boards and has been active in many political campaigns.Caryn Hunt – VP for Membership
Caryn Hunt is a Philadelphia writer and activist. She's been involved since 2006 with planning along the Delaware River- from helping organize Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront (NABR) to advocate for sensible riverfront development, to covering planning issues before there was a planPhilly.com, to serving on the board of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group, whose mission is to implement the citizen-driven Civic Vision for the Delaware River. She's written extensively about environmental and other issues at www.GreenCityJournal.com.
Caryn is a proud and active member in Philadelphia NOW. She was a NOW Citizen Activist Honoree in 2009 for her work to keep maternity units open in the city. She represents NOW on Maternity Care Coalition's Policy Committee, and continues to push for building greater access to maternity care in Philadelphia. Caryn currently works as Political Liaison for the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. She is passionate about reaching out to citizens to help empower them in the political process, and about clarifying how complex issues like health care reform effect women and families.Louise Francis – Treasurer
Louise Francis is the current Treasurer of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She has been the Chapter’s Treasurer since 1991. She has been involved in all aspects of the Chapter’s activities, including pro-choice marches in Washington DC, demonstrations against local employers that discriminate against workers, city-wide organized clinic defense when Operation Rescue staged an “operation” against Philadelphia’s abortion providers and helping to organize the 2009 International Women’s Day event. She is also a member of the Philadelphia NOW Political Action Committee and regularly interviews candidates seeking the NOW endorsement. On many elections she is an election worker at her local polling place.
Ms Francis is an avid gardener and is a member of the Waverly Gardens community garden in the Washington Square West section of Philadelphia.
Ms Francis is the Consulting Principal and founder of Francis Analytics and Actuarial Data Mining, Inc. where she leads predictive modeling, simulation and related actuarial projects and engagements. Ms. Francis has introduced insurance professionals to advanced modeling methods, including simulation, predictive modeling and text mining, both as a speaker at conferences and as an author of papers and articles. Six of her papers were awarded prizes by the Casualty Actuarial Society.
Ms. Francis was appointed by the Casualty Actuarial Society's board of directors to a three year term as Vice President of Research and Development. In this capacity, she is responsible for helping the CAS achieve its vision of being recognized internationally as a leader in sponsoring and conducting property and casualty insurance research. For a complete description of the company and listing of Ms. Francis’ awards, papers and presentations, please see www.data-mines.com.Terri Falbo – Secretary & Newsletter Producer
Terri Falbo has been involved in many movements for social justice since coming to Philadelphia in 1974. After studying at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University, she became a union steamfitter for over 17 years. While working as a steamfitter, Terri was active in Tradeswomen of Philadelphia/Women in Non-traditional work (TOP/WIN) working as an instructor in the pre-apprenticeship program. She also served on the Philadelphia AFL-CIO Women's Committee. She has been on the board of the Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) for over 12 years.
Following her passion for social justice, Terri spent eight years as a union organizer for healthcare workers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kansas City. She helped nurses to organize for professional respect and conditions for themselves, as well as for more influence to enable them to provide better patient care.
In 2004, Terri was selected by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Anniston (Alabama) Star to write a series of 16 essays as a representative of a "Blue State" on various topics discussed during the Presidential election. In 2005, she received CLUW's Working Woman Award during Working Women's Awareness Week, as well as citations from State Representatives, partly because of the essay series.
Since 2006, Terri has been working as a Real Estate agent throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. She has been the secretary & newsletter producer for Philadelphia NOW since 2008.Francesca Alvarado – Representative to the State Board
Francesca Alvarado has a BS in Accounting; however, her work is not her life. Francesca’s passion is human rights, and she has been active in areas such as Health care, Education, Domestic Violence, Pro-choice, Fair Wages etc. She has been on the Executive Board of several organizations such as AFSCME District Council 47 Local 2187, Coalition Labor Union Women, PHILA NOW, and PA NARAL. She is a member of various nonprofit organizations. One of her favorite quote is “My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong."
—Mother Jones Doris Spivey Pridgin – Representative to the State Board
Doris attended Temple University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta. In 1999 she retired after working as a teaching assistant, primarily with junior and senior high school social studies students. While working for the school district, Doris became active in the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as a representative for her school. After retiring, Ms. Pridgin attended Community College. It was there that Doris became acquainted with NOW. Doris joined in 2000 and has shown exemplary service ever since! She always steps up to the plate when called upon to represent PhilaNOW at any event or speaking engagement.Rosa B. Woods – Alternate Representative to the State Board
Rosa B. Woods is currently an elected Democratic Committee Person in the 22nd Ward in Philadelphia. For several years previously, she served as Committee person in the 9th Ward. Ms. Woods is a dedicated community activist and has worked diligently to seek changes to improve and uplift her community. Besides PhilaNOW, other organizations in which she is involved include: West Mount Airy Neighbors, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Progressive Women of Pennsylvania, and Triumph Baptist Church.
Ms. Woods is a political strategist, advisor, and consultant. In 2007 she led the campaign for Cindy Bass a candidate for City Council for the 8th Councilmanic District. In 2002 she was a Political consultant for Democratic National Committee as a facilitator for Political Seminars in Washington, D.C. Also, in 2002 she Coordinated Get Out the Vote for Gubernatorial Candidate Edward Rendall in the 22nd Ward. In 2000 she Coordinated the Black Clergy and Vicinity Gospel Rally for Democratic National Committee. With her expertise, in 2000 she led the Philadelphia Get Out the Vote effort for the NAACP National Voter Fund and supervised fourteen coordinators with over 3000 volunteers.
In 1999 Ms. Woods Coordinated the Northwest Philadelphia region for Mayoral candidate, John F. White, Jr., in Democratic Primary. Also, in 1996 she coordinated Black Clergy and Vicinity Gospel Rally for Democratic National Committee. In 1995 Ms. Woods was the ward Coordinator for Hon. Edward Rendell – Mayoral Race. he identified, trained, and supervised volunteer staff responsible for literature distribution as part of the “Get Out The Vote” campaign.
In 1995 Ms. Woods was the Campaign Manager for Robert T. Vance, Jr., Esquire. She developed and implemented a campaign strategy aimed at capturing the 8th District Council seat. She supervised the day-to-day activities for staff of 85 volunteers and paid staff. Also, she recruited over 400 volunteers for election day. She monitored campaign operations and finances against measurable goals and timetables.
In 1994 she was ward coordinator for Hon. Chaka Fattah – 2nd Congressional District. she coordinated grass roots communications and fundraising activities with supporters, ward leaders, committee people, and block captains in the 9th and 22nd Wards, to increase voter participation.Political Action Committee Board
The Political Action Committee Board consists of the officers with the President of the chapter serving as President of the PAC board. Francesca Alvarado is Treasurer of the PAC board.
In addition to the officers, PAC board includes:Cindy Bass
Cindy M. Bass is a dynamic political strategist, community activist, public speaker and policy formulator. She is currently an elected Democratic Committee Person in the 22nd Ward in Philadelphia, PA and an elected member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. In 2000, 2004 and 2008, Ms. Bass was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Currently, she is the Senior Policy Advisor on Urban and Domestic Policy to sixth term United States Congressman Chaka Fattah. Congressman Fattah is a nationally recognized expert on urban policy and education who sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee. Prior to joining Congressman Fattah’s staff, Ms. Bass was Special Assistant to then State Senator Allyson Schwartz, who was recently elected to Pennsylvania’s 13th United States Congressional seat.
Ms. Bass holds a deep commitment to increasing the role and the number of women and minorities in the political arena. She is a board member of The Philadelphia NOW PAC and formerly for the Metropolitan Career Center, NARAL Foundation and New Directions for Women. She is also the former chairperson for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s National Public Policy Committee, and the former chairperson of the Political Awareness Committee for this organization’s local chapter. Ms. Bass has also been involved in various organizations throughout the years, which have included the Philadelphia Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Democrat Women of Philadelphia, The NAACP, The Coalition of Labor Union Women, East Mt. Airy Neighbors and the steering committee for 2000 African American Women PAC. She is a frequent presenter and panelist at workshops and forums aimed at increasing the role and number of women and minorities involved in politics, education, business, and the health care arena. In 2006, Ms. Bass served as conference Chair for the Phila NOW Women of Color and Allies Summit. This successful conference reached hundreds of women throughout the Greater Philadelphia region and beyond.
Most recently, Ms. Bass was a candidate for City Council in Philadelphia’s 8th District. Ms. Bass finished in second place in a crowded field of challengers. As a candidate, Ms. Bass received numerous endorsements including both daily papers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News. The Inquirer described her as “poised, gracious and smart….. ready to put the skills and relationships she developed….. to good use on Council. She has walked the walk of neighborhood improvement in Northwest Philadelphia as a staffer at the superb Mount Airy, USA community development corporation and as a president of the East Mount Airy Neighbors. Her willingness to look anywhere and everywhere for best practices that Philadelphia could emulate would be a nice addition to an often-parochial Council”. The Daily News’ endorsement echoes this sentiment by stating “The district….is filled with possibilities. We believe Cindy M. Bass can turn those possibilities into realities…. Many things impress us about Bass….. But it's more than just her resume. Bass exudes the energy and political savvy needed to change things in the district and move it forward…. It's Bass who has the right experience, connections and drive to serve this district.”Karen Bojar
Karen Bojar has served as President of Philadelphia NOW for the past eight years. She recently retired from her job as Professor of English and Women’s Studies and Coordinator of the Women's Studies program at the Community College of Philadelphia.
She has been a lifelong political activist and plans to continue her involvement in grassroots politics during her retirement and hopes to do what she can to support the new leadership of Phila NOW.
Her retirement projects include writing a history of the second wave feminist movement in Philadelphia and maintaining a blog about women and retirement at http://www.the-next-stage.com/