Author Archives: janani

November 2016 Branch Meeting

Noted Art Historian and Lecturer, Dr. Karen Pope, will present a program based on her Famous Collectors Series. Peggy Guggenheim 1898-1979, was very much ahead of her time and generation. At only 14 years old, she lost her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, in the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic.

As a young woman, Peggy moved to London and opened an art gallery in 1938, but was forced to leave London with the outbreak of WW II. She returned to New York, and in 1949, purchased the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in Venice. Peggy would become famous as a collector of 20th century art and vowed to “buy a picture a day”. She had the “eye” and the resources from the Guggenheim fortune to accomplish this goal. She continued to live in the palazzo for 30 years and exhibit art until her death in 1979. Today, the museum continues to grow and exhibit the major movements of modern art.

Welcome to the Austin AAUW Website

AAUW Mission Statement

The Austin Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) was organized by 15 women in 1923, at the Driskill Hotel, with many contributions and accomplishments made by branch members and continuing since, as recorded in our HERstory under ABOUT US.

What a year 2015-2016 has been! Membership numbers have increased and so has branch involvement and visibility in the Austin community. Branch members have made their presence known at the Capitol to lobby for equal pay, at the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas’s WECONference; at Girlstart and Latinitas in a variety of roles; wrapping gifts for tips at Barnes & Noble; at Mainspring Schools; and supporting high school and university women in scholarship and advocacy. And there was still time to have fun and learn in so many ways: art tours, playing bridge, reading and talking about a variety of books, hiking, and of course, eating!

Another exciting year has begun!



2016-2017 EVENTS


October 12 (Wednesday), 10 AM – “Texas Voters: Trends and Issues”, Grace Chimene, TX League of Women Voters, and Cinde Weatherby, Austin LWV, Norris Center, Northcross Mall; Contact: Sylvia Garcia & Jean Bessent. Read More …


September 9 (Friday), 10 AM “Living and Working in China” Wendell Harwell, Norris Center, Northcross Mall; Contact: Marina Rivers

R. Wendell Harwell, retired CPA and husband of our Co-President Marina Rivers told us about living in China. He had a delightful presentation that addressed some of the practical problems and joys of living abroad. Read More …


The Perfect Gift for Graduates

You have something special to give new college grads: one year of free national membership! It’s easy, and you can give AAUW memberships to as many recent graduates as you like.




Save the Dates

June 14th – 17th, 2017: National Convention






October 2016 Branch Meeting

The October meeting will be held Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at the Norris Center from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p. m. The speakers will give us an overview of the latest voter requirements in light of recent court decisions, discuss voter trends and issues such as voting demographics, breakdowns by geographic areas, gender, and race/ethnicity, and share resources available from the League of Women Voters. The speakers are Grace Chimene, Board member of the State League of Women Voters and Cinde Weatherby, President of the Austin chapter of the League.

Ms. Chimene recently upgraded the League’s website and social media system which can be viewed at She has served in various capacities for the League such as providing legislative testimony and chairing the Child Health Issues at the Capitol. She is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with 30 years of experience.

Cinde Weatherby is the 2016-18 President of the League of Women Voters-Austin. Prior to her election , she was VP for Community Relations and coordinated the Austin League’s Capitol Corps. She also has served at the state organization’s chair for Voting and Election Issues. Prior to her volunteering, she had a long public and private sector transportation career.

Mark you calendar now and plan to attend this meeting to hear these very knowledgeable women.

The menu for the day is:
Turkey Roulade
Tender turkey breast stuffed with cranberries, sausage & figs in a wine cream sauce,
 with endive mashed potatoes and
 a garden fresh salad
Dessert and beverages choices
Meeting with lunch:  $30
Meeting with beverages:  $5


September 2016 Branch Meeting

September 9 (Friday), 10 AM “Living and Working in China”  Wendell Harwell, Norris Center, Northcross Mall; Contact: Marina Rivers

The September 9th AAUW Austin Branch Meeting was premier in every way!  It was the first meeting of member year 2016-17, and Co-President Marina Rivers’ husband, CPA Wendell Harwell presented a stellar, captivating portrait of Living in China from a savvy American point of view.  The PowerPoint presentation moved briskly along to Harwell’s confident and organized talk of living in Shanghai and traveling extensively in the rest of China.  His photos compared the way Americans in Shanghai were able to live vis å vis the way ordinary Chinese citizens live.  He had nothing but high regard for the daily challenges met by the Chinese to create a life for themselves, a livelihood, and provide the best possible education for their one child.  An interesting side note on the changing one-child law in China was the realization of the burden of family responsibilities on that single grown child to  house, feed, and clothe the older generations who, by custom, continue to live with the young.  Therefore, in a new marriage, a couple would provide for both sets of parents, plus their parents.  The societal mistake has been made plain.  Another eye-opener for the audience was the extreme challenge of gaining access to higher education vs making iPhones or planting rice if one failed.  The Chinese child plays no sports or pursues other interests other than study study study.  The competition is fierce.  He finished with the reminder that people all over the world want the same basic things.  Our governments might differ, but people all want peace, security, to provide for their children, and to live a good life free of fear.

The Harwells especially loved learning about the culture and language from brilliant Chinese tutors they hired, travel, their spacious apartment, and the FOOD.  They are real foodies who love to adventure dine and never became ill from the food they chose until they visited a Chinese KFC.  The program was enlightening and highly entertaining.  The 54 members and multiple guests in attendance loved the presentation and the very nice lunch of chicken breast with caper sauce, au gratin potatoes, salad, seasonal veggies, and mini-dessert choices.  Membership VP Elaine Penn welcomed new member Suellen Myers to our branch and recognized seven other NEW members in attendance: Roberta Coffin, Brenda Hahne, Sylvia Huntsman, Lana Kempff, Jennifer Swenson, and sisters Jan and Pam Watson.  Co-President Marsha Endahl Kramer introduced our three brand new Honorary members who were in attendance:  Myrtle Bell, Anita Knight, and Mary Ellen Scribner. Longtime Honoraries Jerry Cassidy and Nancy Myers were also introduced.  Sunshine chair Larie Amsler gave a touching tribute to the passing of Honorary member Dr. Janice May, who died in recent months.

September 2015 Branch Meeting

September 12th: “Driving Around in Circles, The Austin Area Traffic & Transportation Dilemma” – Dr. Jennifer Duthie

Jen DuthieDr. Duthie is a Research Engineer at The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Transportation Research. Her talk focused on the challenges and innovations in designing solutions to the traffic problems in Austin. She talked about how technology is shaping and will continue to shape our transportation system, including the use of smartphone apps, driverless vehicles, and improved safety. Political roadblocks and equity challenges were also discussed.


Monthly Branch Program, April 2015

April 8 (Wednesday), 10:00 AM – “Where Has All the Water Gone?” – Thomas G. Mason, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Contact: Larie Amsler

WildflowerCenterMeetingThe April AAUW Austin branch meeting was held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The room was lively with 42 members and invited guests, three of whom became members of our branch!  Members were urged to attend the Equal Pay Lobby Day at the State Capitol on April 14th.  Following a brief business meeting with incoming Co-Presidents Marina Rivers and Milli Stecker,  and new Membership VP Elaine Penn, elected by acclamation, the appreciative audience was treated to a very informative presentation by the Texas Water Foundation’s board president, Tom Mason. Mason began his discussion of the water crisis in Texas by reminding the group that there will never be more or less water on this planet than there is at this moment in time. The population grows, but the water resources remain the same; and less than 1% of all the water on earth is fresh water that we can actually use.  He humorously commented that the water in our members’ glasses had likely been filtered through a dinosaur’s kidney at one time.  He discussed the serious drought situation across Texas, but left the audience with a feeling of hope that Texas is managing its resources very well, and that conservation is definitely working.  The state water plan includes other measures to provide for future water needs, including water re-use.

Our speaker,Tom Mason, who served as the General Counsel and later the General Manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority, has over thirty years experience in water, energy, and environmental law and is currently board president of the Texas Water Foundation. A Plan II Honors Program graduate of the University of Texas in 1975, he received his law degree from the UT Law School in 1980. He is past president of the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Austin.

Some of our new members:

Monthly Branch Program, March, 2015

March 11 (Wednesday), 10:00 AM –  “Human Trafficking in Austin and Beyond” – Elizabeth Gaines; Norris Center, Northcross Mall; Contact: Ruth Rubio

The March branch meeting of Austin AAUW focused on an important and violent issue that is particularly related to women—human trafficking. Elizabeth Gaines, MA, explained human trafficking, especially sex trafficking; sensitized the group to various terms used to refer to this population; and discussed the experiences of trafficking victims, in particular domestic minor sex trafficking victims (DMST). Ms. Gaines did an excellent job of conveying the severity of trafficking situations for the girls/women involved and of deepening our understanding of the interpersonal dynamics between pimps and their victims. Ms. Gaines is a staff member of the human service agency in Austin named Allies Against Slavery and is also a member of the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project for Texas, which is a project of the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin. The following is a brief summary of the presentation.

Human trafficking exists in two forms: labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Both these forms have international and domestic victims. As defined by federal law, sex trafficking includes elements of force, fraud or coercion; or, the person induced to perform the act is under the age of 18. Even though the stereotype is that victims are from other countries, it is just as common to have victims from the USA. In all cases, trafficking requires the involvement of a third party who is exploiting the girls or women. Ms. Gaines reviewed various terms used to refer to victims, such as prostituted woman, sex worker, and commercially sexually exploited. The terms vary based on whether a person has made a choice about the situation, on whether the practice is legal in the area, on the balance of power in the relevant relationships and other factors. We learned that the most common age of entry into commercial sex in the USA is between 12-14 years old.

Domestic minor sex trafficking is the sexual exploitation of a child in which a third party profits from the commercial sex act and that occurs in the same country where the child was born. DMST is a severe form of violence against children. All children are at risk to be trafficked, however some are at higher risk. Risk factors include poverty, early childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, abusive and neglectful parents, learning disabilities, exposure to domestic violence and others. Multiple studies indicate that 70%-90% of commercially sexually exploited children have a history of child sexual abuse. Ms. Gaines made the point that childhood sexual abuse results in a conflation of sex, love and violence that sets the stage for the abusive and controlling relationship between pimp and victim.

Bringing about change for victims is possible. Resources available in Austin include the following:

  • National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888
  • Austin Police Department Human Trafficking Unit 512-974-4786
  • Central Texas Coalition 512-367-3232
  • Allies Against Slavery

For those interested in exploring this social issue further, please know that Allies Against Slavery is hosting The Slave-Free City Summit in Austin on April 17 -18, 2015. For more information, refer to the website