President’s Message 2021-2022

Joanne Quijano, President 2021-22

(January 2022)  As we contemplate the beginning of a new year, I’d like to recognize some of our significant 2021 accomplishments.  Despite the pandemic, we adapted, persevered, and kept our valuable branch initiatives active and well!

Thanks to Bette Felton, Program VP, we had seven engaging program sessions on topics from racial awareness to women in the arts that underscored our mission of equity for women.

  • Our 2020-21 Local Scholarship team, led by Diane Tinnes, reviewed multiple applications and awarded funding to 12 worthy local students.
  • The Tech Trek team supported 16 virtual campers led by Deborah Wechsler, who was instrumental in building kits and coordinating their delivery to campers from the East Bay.
  • Expanding Your Horizons went virtual with chair Judy Lauper coordinating our volunteer efforts and helping students pick up supplies.
  • The Fundraising team overcame challenges in 2020-21 with Susan Terzouli devising safe distancing events like the “Takeout Dinner Days” with Montecatini and Mangia Mi, which were a big success. We also partnered with the Ruth Bancroft Gardens for two exclusive garden evenings.
  • Asha Bajaj, Public Policy Chair, helped us expand our participation in Public Policy education and advocacy by coordinating with California and neighboring branch efforts.
  • Our new board took office in July with eight new officers and seventeen continuing their positions to carry our branch initiatives forward into fiscal year 2021-22.
  • We recruited 27 new members, up from just eight in 2020, thanks to Claudia Schwarz, Membership VP, with her amazing energy and tenacity. Claudia and her team were at all our events and followed up every inquiry with enthusiasm.

In 2022 we’ll implement ideas developed by the board with input from you, our members. A few highlights include:

  • Hosting our annual Garden Tour in May, dependent on identifying a new chair for the Garden Tour team (let me know if you’re interested!).
  • Expanding opportunities through our membership and public policy teams for activism and volunteering. We’re also planning to enhance our Interest Groups and create more opportunities for social interactions.
  • Building a fundraising team to stage events that continue supporting our initiatives through the next fiscal year.

As you can see, we have a lot to be proud of and much work to do. Thank you for your ongoing commitment and support for our mission of advancing equity for women and girls! I’m so honored to be working with you.

Wishing all a happy, healthy and energized New Year!

(December 2021)  It was a pleasure to get together with some of our new branch members in November. Look for photos of smiling faces from this event in Claudia’s report in the Membership Section of our December Newsletter. I sure hope that the pandemic restrictions will get looser, and we’ll soon be able to do more of our smaller events in-person. In the meantime, we’ll continue to Zoom on with our branch events.

Our December program of Local Women in the Arts is going to be an interesting and inspiring evening. I encourage you to join us to hear our speakers’ stories and encouraging messages.  See the Programs Update Section of our December Newsletter for more information.

Plans for our January event are in progress; we have several excellent speakers in the works to address our theme of “women finding solutions” relating to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Mark your calendar for January 13 and look for more details in the next Advocate.

You will soon be receiving our annual letter requesting your generous donations to the AAUW Fund. This year we’ve added an appeal for donations to our branch Local Scholarship and Tech Trek initiatives as well. We are in greatest need of contributions to Local Scholarships (LS); your donations are the only source of funding for this valuable program. Many thanks in advance! 

Take time to enjoy some holiday cheer with your friends and family – we’ve sprinkled a few carols throughout our December edition of the Advocate to help get you in the mood.

Best wishes to all for a joyous holiday season and a wonderful, healthy New Year!

(November 2021) We’ve had a busy month in October as our AAUW year takes off. It was great to see so many members get active and march with the Rally for Reproductive Rights on the 6th in Danville; I was proud to be a part of the group. See the Branch Reports section for some photos from the event. While the rally showed strong support for abortion rights, there are many challenges coming up that will need all of us to make our voices heard.

I’m happy to announce that National AAUW now has Gloria Blackwell as the new CEO. You can read about her many accomplishments and her impressive experience with AAUW in our November newsletter

Our October program was a Zoom session with two excellent speakers, both women who work in water resources fields. Programs VP Bette Felton did a great job of putting together the program and developing an interesting approach to enable the speakers to share information. Look for her recap of the event in the November newsletter Branch Reports section.

Unfortunately, our November program about Generation Citizen has been delayed due to scheduling problems. There just wasn’t enough time to work out a new mutually agreeable date this month. Don’t worry, we really want to bring this topic to you, so we’ll reschedule this in the Spring.

New members will get a chance to meet each other and some of our branch officers at an event to be held on November 6th. We appreciate that it’s been tough for you to get acquainted with our branch given so many of our activities since early last year have been held via Zoom. DAW Membership VP, Claudia Schwarz, is busy coordinating the event, and has already sent out invitations to the members involved. I’m looking forward to meeting some of you then!

Tech Trek Chair, Deborah Wechsler, has good news that Tech Trek will be in person next year! Look for more information about this great program under the November newsletter Branch Reports. Related to this, you’ll be getting our annual fundraising letter in November requesting your generous support. We’ve had so many challenges since we’re limited in holding in person events that we are asking for your donations directly. I hope you can give as you are able – these donated funds are critical to our being able to support our Tech Trek and Local Scholarship students. In addition, your contributions to the AAUW National FUND helps them to continue their many worthy initiatives.

November is a time for giving thanks and reflecting on all of the wonderful advantages we have in this area. Remember to be grateful for those around you – family, friends, associates, community. Take care.

(October 2021) It was wonderful to see everyone –if only virtually – at our Membership Brunch and General Meeting on September 25th.  While we had hoped to meet in person, the event committee and the keynote speaker were able to adjust to the new direction and pulled together to make the online meeting a success.  I was fascinated and inspired by the keynote speaker, and impressed by the FY22 plans for our branch. See the DAW Branch Reports section for a review of the session.

For those who weren’t able to attend, or who would like to reference any of the wide variety of topics covered, there are videos and other related materials on our branch website. Link to Brunch Information here 

In addition to the full, informative program, the names of our 2020-21 Funds Branch Named Gift Honorees were announced at the Brunch – an overdue acknowledgement of their many valuable contributions to our branch.  A big thank you to Deborah Wechsler, Bette Felton, Teresa Cheung, Kathy Harkins and Tena Gallagher for your continued enthusiasm, hard work and dedication! See the DAW Branch Reports section of our October Newsletter for details about their many efforts.

You are needed to support abortion rights given the recent restrictive law passed in Texas!  See the Upcoming Events section to learn how to join your fellow branch members in the local Rally for Abortion Rights on October 2nd to raise awareness about this important issue.

I’m eagerly anticipating our first branch program of the FY22. It should be an excellent session on October 26th, to be held via Zoom at 6:00. The topic is “Women Working with Water”, and it will be held in an intriguing conversational format. See the Upcoming Events section for more details and to RSVP for the event.

 I’ll keep saying it – we still have openings for several additional people to contribute to the branch by joining our Appointed Board. A key position that presents a great opportunity to help shape the branch’s communications is that of Advocate Editor. Other board positions such as Fundraising Chair and Hospitality Chair are also still available.

Take care all!

(September, 2021) To start off our 2021-22 year, the branch board members convened a strategy session on August 18th. While we had hoped to meet in person, we decided to be cautious and met over Zoom. We were able to cover a lot of topics and got our new board members off to a good start. There’s an informative recap of the session in the Branch Reports section.

You received a survey a short time ago about your interest in attending our Membership Brunch in person later this month. Thank you to all who responded, you provided the Brunch Planning Committee with very timely information to assist our evaluation of the scheduled event. Of the people who responded, only 30 members anticipated attending the Brunch, while the other 65 responders would not attend, either because of pandemic concerns, or for other reasons. 

In large part because of this member feedback, the planning committee made the difficult decision to cancel the event for this year. We are very disappointed to have to come to this conclusion. Since we had contracted with Crow Canyon to hold our brunch for the usual 100 attendees, it would be an unacceptable loss of branch funds if only a much smaller number of tickets were sold. When the Brunch was planned, we had no inkling that pandemic conditions would continue to create such significant challenges for in person gatherings. It turns out that the conditions of our contract with the venue did not allow for changing the plans as much as we would need to for the brunch to be financially viable this year.

In place of an in person event, we are going to proceed with a virtual Member Brunch. It will be on the same date, September 25th, as the original event. Our excellent speaker, Rachael Morello-Frosch, is willing to go virtual, and we’re planning to include as much of our traditional brunch programming as possible. There’s more information in the Upcoming Events section, and we’ll be sending emails soon with more details. Be sure to Zoom in to the Brunch!

Back in July, we were excited to plan the Member Appreciation Party for August 12th. Unfortunately, as the time for the event drew closer, the pandemic situation in our area became more problematic. As with the Member Brunch, we made the very difficult decision to postpone this event. This seems to be a trend for the moment. We are now considering options in its place; a rescheduled date, perhaps a Zoom format, or a scaled back event. We’ll keep you informed as plans are revised.

After a Summer hiatus, our branch programs will start again with an excellent session being planned for October 26th, to be held via Zoom. The topic will be “Women Working in Water” and there’s a preview in the Upcoming Events section. Save the date for what should be a fascinating program.

I’ll keep saying it – we’ve still got openings for several additional people to contribute to the branch by joining our Appointed Board. A key position that presents a great opportunity to help shape the branch’s communications is that of Advocate Editor. Other board positions such as Local Scholarship and Fundraising Chair are also still available.

Hard to believe that we are well through the year, and the Summer is (almost!) over. Let’s hope that we’ll feel comfortable once again getting together in larger groups. Take care all!

(August, 2021) The Summer is upon us, and I hope you are enjoying getting out and about after staying home for so long. With the installation of our new Board in June, we’re starting plans for the new year, and will be having a strategy and planning session on August 18th. Now’s the time to let me, or any of the Board members, know about ideas you have for the coming Branch year.

While the incoming Board is getting organized, we’ve still got openings for several additional folks to contribute to the Branch. A key position that presents a great opportunity to help shape the Branch’s communications is that of Advocate editor. Other Board positions that were described in more detail in the last Advocate – Local Scholarship and Fundraising Chair – are also still available.

The second Evening Stroll in the Ruth Bancroft Gardens was held in July; hopefully you were able to attend and enjoy the wonderful garden with the special sculptures by local artists. Congratulations once again to Deborah Wechsler, Marsha Anderson and to all the many volunteers who made our second stroll a success. The proceeds will go toward funding for our Local Scholarships program. Many thanks to all who braved the hot weather and supported this event!

The Member Appreciation Party is coming soon, and it’s shaping up to be a lovely event! It will be on August 12th, at 5:00. This free event is for members and prospective members only.  Be sure to mark your calendar, RSVP, and attend the party. See the Upcoming Events section for more information. I hope to see many of you at this event.

Then in September, our annual Member Brunch will be on September 25th at 10:00. This will be a special event that will include an excellent speaker, information about Branch Interest Groups, and a wonderful brunch. It’s certainly a wonderful traditional event that you won’t want to miss.  Details are in the Upcoming Events section.

In the past few months, Branch Interest Groups have been getting back into action after over a year of suspending gathering in person!  While many are meeting this month, others are making plans to resume activities in the Fall. Hopefully the worrying pandemic situation will continue to be good enough that we can gather safely. Look for a full update in the Interest Group Happenings section.

Take care all!

(July 2021) It was indeed a challenging year for the past Board!  We all had to adjust to changing levels of restrictions, yet still managed to have a full state of programs and engaging events. Many, many thanks to the outgoing Board members, and to all of you Branch members who stayed active and engaged.

This coming year should bring us back together in person with new purpose. I am anticipating plenty of energy and an exciting agenda will emerge from the incoming Board’s strategy session in August. Our new and continuing Board members will be ready to build on our past year’s successes to continue the Branch’s education and advocacy activities. Please feel free to contact me at with any ideas you have for our Branch this coming year.

For July, there will be another fundraising event at the beautiful Ruth Bancroft Gardens. We’ve reserved two dates, July 28th and 29th, where our ticket holders will have exclusive access to stroll through the gardens with amazing garden docents on hand. We’ll be offering wine tasting and several other extras to enhance your experience.

In addition to the garden stroll, plans are under way for two great member events. In August, we are bringing back our Membership Appreciation Party with a garden party at the lovely home of Teresa Cheung.  Following in September will be our Fall Membership Brunch that we’ll have at the Crow Canyon Country Club. This is shaping up to be a not-to-be-missed event.

Be sure to look for details about these events in the Upcoming Events section!

Joanne Quijano
DAW President, 2021-22

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