Mary Margaret Oliver

Remarks for Woman of the Year – April 27

I cherish my friendship with Mary Margaret Oliver and deeply respect her leadership.

She was the inspiration for the founding Georgia’s WIN List 17 years ago. She has always been a and supporter of our mission to change the face of power in Georgia by electing more women to sit at the power tables where decisions are made. We are proud to call her a WIN List endorsed woman. She is a generous donor and we have been honored to have her  speak several times over the years.

I speak for all of us when I say we appreciate those qualities in her which lead to the honor this evening:

Mary Margaret has a brilliant mind and a rapier sharp sense of humor.

Mary Margaret has a grand sense of adventure – back in the day we whizzed down ski slopes together and even now, she is always up for a fun trip! She feeds her intellectual curiosity by reading widely, staying well informed and checking out the latest plays, movies and cultural offerings.

Mary Margaret is deeply devoted to public service and making the world – especially DeKalb County and the State of Georgia — a better place.

Mary Margaret has a deep faith, which guides her strong sense of what is right and good. She is doggedly determined to pursue the right and good course even when the road to that objective has many potholes, roadblocks and occasional detours.

Mary Margaret is compassionate and generous — attributes honed during her early career as a Legal Aid attorney when she was exposed to the problems of those less fortunate whose opportunities were hampered by physical or mental disabilities. She saw a side of life very different from her comfortable childhood and this inspired both her public service career and her practice of accepting difficult pro bono cases throughout her career.

Mary Margaret is a courageous advocate for her causes, particularly reproductive freedom, women’s issues, child protection and the reduction of gun violence, even when her advocacy exposes her to hate mail or threats.

Most of all, those of us privileged to know her as a friend enjoy the sheer intellectual exercise of being in her company because she challenges us to think harder when we look at issues and dig deeply to consider all points of view.  After all, to her mind, you must figure out what the other side is thinking if you hope to overcome their objections. She also inspires us to follow her bold example and become more forceful advocates for those things we deeply care about.

One quality which makes Mary Margaret unique in Metro Atlanta politics, where almost everybody is FROM somewhere else, is her strong sense of place. She lives in and represents the area where she was born and where the older generation of residents fondly remember her parents and particularly the soda fountain at her late father’s pharmacy a stones throw from the Emory campus. In fact, some of the older generation still remember Mary Margaret’s high school jobs as soda jerk, cash register clerk or delivery girl – back in the days when drug stores had prescription home delivery.

The residents of her district DEMAND yard signs every political season and they stop Mary Margaret at restaurants, the movie line and anywhere else she happens to be to ask her about legislation or to share their opinion about pressing issues. She always takes time for these encounters and has a remarkable recall for details of their lives and yes, whether they are on the yard sign list!

Her sense of place and a district of constituents who always vote overwhelmingly for her re-election gives Mary Margaret a strong foundation for being on the cutting edge of progressive policy. Quite simply, she is able to sponsor a controversial issue like her proposed assault weapon ban when others who might agree with her do not have the political will to speak out.  Luckily for us – Mary Margaret is not just whip smart, but also a skillful speaker and a determined debater who gives no ground under tough questions. Best of all, when the situation requires, she is a polished parliamentarian and legislative craftsman who knows how to disarm a harmful bill behind conference committee doors so skillfully the sponsors don’t know what has happened until weeks or months after Sine Die.

During her 25 years in the General Assembly, she is the only woman to have chaired the all-powerful Judiciary Committee in both the House and Senate – a truly remarkable achievement, which none of the men have matched. Many of us long for the day when Democrats once again control the legislature and Mary Margaret returns to a committee chairmanship.

Her deep knowledge of state laws particularly on matters of family law, child protection and judicial reforms, makes her respected on both sides of the aisle. Journalists know she is accessible and they can always get an informed opinion or pithy quote from her.  It is no accident Republican colleagues call upon her for help about how to “fix” legislative messes.  Her knowledge is powerful indeed!!

Mary Margaret is a champion for ALL Georgia children in the legislature and the public policy arena. Indeed, she is one of our state’s best known and most respected child advocates. Her legislative accomplishments are many, but chief among them are creation of the Georgia Child Care Council, the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel and Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. In her early years as a legislator, she authored the first bill successfully passed by the women’s caucus—a measure which insured a transparent process which included citizen participation in the allocation of federal child care funds.

When you are fortunate enough to be her friend, Mary Margaret becomes a champion for your children — asking about them, offering advice when sought, writing recommendation letters, celebrating graduations and yes, driving a long distance to weddings. She is an encouraging mentor to other young people who come into her path as interns at the Captiol or as students at Emory’s Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic. She has been a helpful mentor to many a freshman or woman legislator.

Tonight’s honor adds to a long list of others Mary Margaret has received during her distinguished career.  While she’s a non-violent person, she’d shoot me if I stood here and listed them all. But, suffice it to say all her honors, like this one tonight, are well-deserved.

We are all blessed by knowing Mary Margaret Oliver and calling her a friend. Thank You Mary Margaret for all you have done and continue to do.

Congratulations!!

 

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The board of Georgia’s WIN List announces support for Christine Triebsch, a Marietta attorney and political newcomer who conducted a grassroots campaign to lead the eight person field during the Senate District 32 Special Election last week.

Ms. Triebsch received 24 percent of the more than 58,000 votes cast. She faces Republican Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick, a retired orthopedic hand surgeon who was formerly in the same medical practice with former Sixth District Congressman and now HHS Secretary Tom Price.

With the exception of two small areas, the district lines fall completely within the Sixth Congressional district, including (east) Cobb and the portion of Fulton County west of the Chattahoochee River. This includes portions of Marietta, Roswell and Sandy Springs. However,  the runoff for SD 32 is May 16 while the runoff for the Sixth Congressional seat is June 20.

Triebsch, who has lived in Cobb County for twenty years, worked with a team of dedicated and highly motivated volunteers to knock on thousands of doors to spread the message about her candidacy. She based her campaign on support for public schools, expansion of the Affordable Care Act, expanded economic development to create jobs and opposition to gerrymandered districts. She supports reproductive freedom and is a champion for women and families.

“My job allows me to see first hand how the law directly impacts families,” she said “Being married to a teacher and having children in public schools gives me an insider’s look at what makes Cobb County schools great.”

There are two strong strategic reasons for supporting Triebsch. First, the election of a Democrat would remove the Supermajority Republicans now hold in the Georgia Senate. A supermajority, when one party holds 38 of the 56 seats in the senate, give that party the ability to pass proposed constitutional amendments without votes from the opposing party.

Second, currently Elena Parent is the only woman attorney in the Georgia Senate, meaning many matters of great importance to women and families fall only on Elena’s shoulders during Judiciary Committee deliberations and floor debates. Elena has often expressed the desire to recruit another woman attorney who would serve with her in the Senate. FYI, in the 56 member Senate, there are 10 women, nine of them Democrats and one a Republican.

The Triebsch campaign earlier caught the notice of Daily Kos: www.dailykos.com/story/2017/3/…/-Mom-Attorney-Dem-in-GA-Needs-Your-Support

Christine was interviewed by Girls Really Rule: https://www.girlsreallyrule.com/single-post/2017/03/23/You-should-support-Christine-Triebsch-Georgia

And, the George Takei Twitter feed took notice of the campaign:

 

 

 

 

To make Christine Triebsch a WINner on May 16, donate here: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/committee-to-elect-christine-triebsch-1

Join Team Christine as a volunteer: http://christine4ga.com/m.contact.html

 

 

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The eight interns who comprised “Team Brenda” during the 2017 legislative session turned plenty of heads not only because they were culturally diverse but they also were very hard working and seemed to be everywhere.

“I’ve never worked with such great young folks,” said Rep. Brenda Lopez, who represents one of Georgia’s most diverse and rapidly changing districts. Her team attended committee meetings, tracked and followed legislation, worked with progressive groups and learned to be effective lobbyists for progressive causes.

Two of the young women agreed to share their experience with the Georgia’s WIN List community. Here are their stories.

 

By Marisol Estrada

When I was presented with the opportunity to work as an intern/legislative aide for Rep. Brenda Lopez, I decided I was not going to let anything stop me from the experience, not even the drive from my home in Savannah to our Capitol in Atlanta.

As the Representative for House District 99, not only does Brenda represent more than 55,000 citizens — she is also a trailblazer, the first Latina representing our community in the General Assembly. The aforementioned is where my passion comes from, the fact that we as Latinas had never before been represented in creating policy which directly affects us.

During preliminary planning for the 2017 legislative session I told the team I would be at the Capitol on Mondays and Tuesdays only, taking the rest of the week to work odd jobs and plan for law school. Within just a few weeks my two days of commitment turned into three because I became increasingly intrigued with the legislative process. As I started understanding how it all worked, my dedication turned into an everyday of the week experience including late nights and early mornings.

The legislative process in GA is fast paced — bills can be introduced every day within the forty-day session. Further, substitutes and amendments to bills and resolutions can be drafted within minutes and considered at any point in the process. Everyone is required to stay on their toes.

One widely followed example this session came during a late Senate Judiciary Committee meeting when Senators amended an adoption bill, HB 159 which had unanimously passed in the house with bi-partisan support. Over the objections of the bill’s house sponsor and the advocates who had spent more than a year to craft a comprehensive update of state adoption laws, the amendments added RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) language.  Thankfully, this amended bill did not pass the State Senate.

There were numerous anti-immigrant bills including HB 37, HB 452, HB 136, SB 231 and the list continues. In my capacity, I was able to work alongside ally organizations to keep bills harmful our communities from passing. These ally groups attended committee meetings, kept track of legislation, lobbied, and created calls to action. Now that the session has ended, the work for the 2018 legislative session has commenced and the fight for representation, justice, and equality continues.

Working at the Capitol made me realize how important it is for women of color like myself to be represented in the political process. I will return and perhaps someday run for office myself.

 

By Asma Elhuni

It’s not every day that a Muslim woman in hijab is given the opportunity to intern at the Capitol where our laws are drafted and passed.  Many of these laws directly affect or impact the Muslim community.

Rep. Lopez had issued a call for interns who were self-starters, hard working and as diverse as Gwinnett.  I was lucky to be a part of an amazing team which did not mind receiving hate mail about me. My experience as a part of “Team Brenda” reminds me inclusion is possible.

One of the first things I noticed in the Capital is how big it felt with its high ceilings and portraits of historic figures everywhere. Overwhelming, these portraits were white males —  with the portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hidden in a corner.

I was surprised about some things, one of which was that we are told that there is separation of church and state in the United States. So, surely we would expect to see this separation in our government institutions. I consider myself a religious person who invokes God into my life often, but I hope Georgia’s government can become more inclusive of all faiths.

Having been involved as a community organizer outside of the Capitol, I think one of the most important things I learned during my internship is how possible it is to have an impact in places I thought were shut out to me. Though there were some legislators who may not share my values, I met many who did.

I was able to see the power constituents, especially voters, have over their legislators. I knew corporations had a pull with elected leaders, as do protests and media. But to see firsthand there are also other real avenues of influence such as phone calls and letters renewed my belief that real power resides with the people when we act to make our voices heard.

 

 

Following a day-long training on the nuts and bolts of campaign strategy, those attending our April WINning Women Boot Camps were treated to a keynote speech by Democratic House Caucus Chair Stacey Evans. She explained how advocacy efforts to preserve the HOPE scholarship became the passion and purpose which has shaped her political career.

Evans is also celebrating a new accomplishment – selection for the current class of the prestigious Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development program for the best and brightest of all sectors: business, government and civil service. The program focuses on fostering a better understanding of transatlantic relations as it introduces emerging leaders from the United States to Europe and emerging European leaders to the United States. The current class has a record setting 44 Marshall Fellows from Europe and 32 from the United States.

Evans joins two Atlanta men also selected for this year’s program as the only participants from Southeastern states. Only 10 percent of applicants were selected for the six-month study program which also includes 24-days of travel and policy emersion sessions offered by leaders in several European capitals. Evans leaves for that portion of the program later this month.

Rep. Evans told women in Savannah and Atlanta about her hardscrabble childhood as the daughter of mill workers in Ringgold, Georgia. She was frank as she shared about the kind of childhood country music stars sing about. Upon graduation from high school, the HOPE Scholarship offered Evans an escape and more importantly, the opportunity to create a better future.

At the University of Georgia and later in law school there, she became increasingly involved with the Young Democrats of Georgia, rising to serve as state president. She encouraged all those present not to shirk from the seemingly “boring” jobs with organizations like Young Democrats because such service leads to later leadership roles. During law school, a professor noticed Stacey’s leadership abilities and invited her to join the Georgia’s WIN List board upon graduation. She became the third and youngest ever WIN List board Chair.

More than a decade ago, Stacey attended a WIN List campaign training offered by Kate Coyne McCoy and met two other political newcomers with bright futures: Senator Elena Parent and DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston. The three became fast friends and have met frequently for lunch or dinner and been a support system for each other in politics and also life milestones such as childbirth and buying new homes.

When Evans decided to seek an open legislative seat in 2010, she told the crowd she utilized the lessons learned from McCoy – such as pausing for a sip of water after asking for a donation by phone. She related several lessons from the day of training to her own experiences as a candidate, reinforcing several of McCoy’s most important points.

Evans told the WINning Women HOPE Scholarships were on the state’s budgetary chopping block during her first legislative session. Preserving for others the educational opportunities she had enjoyed quickly became her cause, leading to her first speech from the House well. Later, she and then Senator Jason Carter planned a state-wide listening tour to learn more about the effects of HOPE cuts and how to restore key components of the program. Evans said she has faced both victories and defeats as a HOPE scholarship advocate. Most importantly, she said, she learned that sometimes allowing another legislator to “sponsor” a bill which accomplishes your objective is the best way to garner bi-partisan support necessary for passage.

Evans encouraged all the WINning Women contemplating future campaigns to find issues they feel strongly about which can give them a sense of purpose. She said women more often seek office to make a difference rather than using public office as a path to power or prestige. Evans encouraged all the women present to seek office, reminding them that women need to be encouraged on an average of seven times before they decide to run.

Your support of Georgia’s WIN List allows our organization to support a new generation of rising Georgia political stars like Stacey Evans and the new women we helped elect in 2015: Park Cannon, Brenda Lopez and Renitta Shannon. Reaching our goal of $50,000 before the end of June is key to offering more training sessions later this year as part of our “Grab ‘em by the Midterms” strategy in 2018.

Click link to donate.

http://bit.ly/gawinlistdonate

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