It began with an organizational meeting hosted by Charlotte Jeffrey, an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Gainesville Branch member, on January 28, 1984.
The founders were Mary Jane Harris, AAUW member-at-large, along with twelve pioneering women: Marion Blythe, Christine Brewster, Mary Ann Clark, Riza Cohen, Jean Cullen, Ann Ettinger, Beverly Kelly, Ruth Johnson, Isabel Mesick, Virginia Reisinger, Virginia Stout-Sultzman, and Dorothy Wilson. They recognized the need to establish in Flagler County a branch for the oldest and largest national organization for the advancement of women, AAUW.
In less than a month, on February 25, 1984, AAUW Flagler Branch was born.
Founded in 1892, AAUW National by 1984 enjoyed a total of 19,400 members across the country while AAUW Florida members numbered more than 7,700. AAUW Flagler’s charter members totaled 100. Today, AAUW National’s membership totals 170,000. AAUW Florida has a membership of 2,000, AAUW Flagler maintains a membership of 50, and its legacy continues to flourish.
The 1984 message of AAUW Florida Division President Janet Larson focused on community, culture, education, international relations, and “advocacy for women.” It is is still echoed by AAUW Flagler with its continuing mission, “To advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.”
Since 1987, AAUW Flagler has sought to empower women and girls of Flagler County with 222 scholarships for continuing education, high school, and middle school students, including Arts Grants, Tech Trek, National Conference for College Women Student Leaders and Take Stock in Children. AAUW Flagler draws awareness to community and global issues with events such as Candidate Forums, Women’s Equality Day, International Women’s Day, Women Presidents in Flagler and Pioneering Women of Flagler County. Collaborations with the Flagler Youth Orchestra, Daytona State College, Flagler County S.T.U.F.F. Bus, the League of Women Voters and the Flagler County Education Foundation allow AAUW Flagler to continue to thrive and advance its mission.
Who can join? AAUW Flagler membership is open to women, teachers, nurses, professionals, students, and men with an Associate Degree or higher. General meetings are held each second Saturday of the month from September to May and are open to the public. Additional information is available on the website: flaglercounty-flaauw.net or through Facebook / AAUWFlagler. New members are always welcomed as empowering the next generation of women continues to be a need in Flagler County and remains at the core of AAUW Flagler’s legacy.
–Kimble Medley, AAUW
Kimble Medley is a member and past president of the Flagler Branch of the American Association of University Women.