2019 Annual Conference

What happens when diverse and impressive elected women get together to share ideas, network, and engage in civil discourse? Just before Thanksgiving, NFWL found out when we hosted our Annual Conference, and brought together almost 100 elected women from across the country to San Antonio, TX.

This group shared experiences and discussed challenges they face in their states. Together we celebrated those who had been nominated by their peers as leaders devoted to improving their communities, and reflected on the hard work that has to be done everyday. Participants learned how to stay motivated, and what policy solutions exist across the country on a variety of issues.

NFWL’s Annual Conference is held in a new location every November, and will be in Memphis, TN in November 2020. On the heels of an important election, NFWL is excited to bring together elected women and swap stories. Interested in finding out more?
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Conference Events:

(from bottom left) Women of Excellence Honorees: Rep. Kim Schofield, GA; Rep. Linda Massimilla, NH; Councilwoman Victoria Napolitano, NJ; Councilwoman Neat Robinson, GA; Councilwoman Lydia Assefa-Dawson, WA; Sen. Sue Crawford, NE; Deputy Mayor Susan Honda, WA; Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin, IL; Rep. Lynn DeCoite, HI; Council President Lacey Beaty, OR; Rep. Barbara Dittrich, WI; Councilwoman Maria Marino, FL

Women of Excellence
NFWL is proud to celebrate elected women who have worked tirelessly and overcome obstacles. Leaders in their communities, these women are nominated by their peers, and honored by the organization for their work. See all the winners here.

Membership Meeting
Commit to staying involved in 2020.  Does your state need a state director? Sign up!

Student Scholarship Winners
See the 2020 winners here.

Scholarship winners are cheered by elected attendees.

Motivation with Kelly Vrla
Tap in, tune in and turn on your team! Stay motivated and watch one of her videos here.

Reflection on Human Trafficking with Red Sand
NFWL participants gathered to talk about human trafficking, sharing the legislation they have worked on in their states. The group then headed outside to create a Red Sand Installation. This initiative is symbolic, with the grains of sand representing those individuals who fall through the cracks—whether the cracks of our social, economic, and political systems or those of our personal consciousness. Order more sand to replicate the event in your state here, and share your legislation human trafficking issues here, or reach out to brenna@womenlegislators.org to contribute an article on the topic.

NFWL members pour sand and reflect.

Celebrating the Suffragette Centennial through 2020
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. Join NFWL in celebrating this historic centennial:

  • Pass Resolutions: Pass commemorative resolutions to recognize your state’s or community’s role in the women’s suffrage movement, designate August 26, 2020 as your Women’s Equality Day, or reaffirm your state’s or community’s commitment to the 19th Amendment and to uplifting women’s voices. Find samples and templates here.
  • Join the Forward Into Light Campaign: On August 26, 2020, buildings and landmarks across the country will light up in purple and gold to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote. This nationwide celebration of the centennial is named for the historical suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.” Work with the NFWL and the WSCC to celebrate women’s right to vote in the official suffrage colors of purple and gold, from the State Capitol to skyscrapers to bridges to city halls.
  • Library Book Donation Program: In summer 2020, the WSCC will donate children’s suffrage history books to nearly 4,000 libraries across the US. Join the campaign by delivering the donated books to your local library for story-time, and help bring the story of the women who waged and won the fight for the vote to kids in your community.

Bipartisan Choir Highlights
NFWL is proud to bring together so many talented women, and always excited to hear their voices combine. This fun group meets throughout the conference to practice, and performs in front of the whole group. The idea for a bipartisan choir came from NFWL’s work on civility, and was an idea that some legislatures across the country have engaged in, setting aside differences to sing in a fun way. Start a choir in your state, and sing with fellow elected women at NFWL at 2020’s Annual Conference.

Policy Programming:

Addressing Juvenile Justice

Value and Cost of Medicines: The True impact on Patients and the Healthcare System

  • Session Summary: This panel focused on the value of medicines and how they reduce the cost of disease, as well as exploring the slowdown in medicine cost growth, rising cost of chronic disease, insurance coverage of medicine, the role of middlemen and what the industry can do to make medicines more affordable. Personalized medicine is an emerging field of medicine that uses diagnostic tools to identify specific biological markers for each patient. The panel also covered the cost of research and development of these products while providing cost offsets when the right treatment is given to the right patient at the right dose the first time.
  • Speakers:
    • Sharon Brigner Lamberton | @PhRMA
      Deputy Vice President, PhRMA
    • Marissa Schlaifer, MS, RPh | @OptumRx
      Vice President, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, OptumRx
  • Valuable Links:

Healthy Babies & Moms: Addressing Disparities and Identifying Change

  • Session Summary: Elected women across the country are raising concerns about the troubling disparities in maternal and infant health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American women are dying of preventable pregnancy-related complications at a rate three to four times that of white women, and the death rate for black infants is twice that of infants born to white mothers. In this session, policymakers connected with healthcare providers to work together to eliminate these disparities.
  • Speakers:
    • Representative Sandra Scott | @SandraGScott76
      Georgia State Legislature, NFWL Board
    • Maria E. Samerson, MD | @WellCareHealth
      Senior Corporate Medical Director, Wellcare Health Plans
    • Alison Brophy Dorsey, MPH | @WellCareHealth
      Senior Director of Government Affairs, WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
  • Valuable Links:

Rethinking School Finance

  • Session Summary: This session reflected on the challenges states face, and included a discussion on the options policy makers have to make change.
  • Speakers:
    • Leslie Hiner, Esq. | @edchoice
      Vice President of Legal Affairs, EdChoice
    • Lisa Snell
      Director, K-12 Education Policy Partnerships, Stand Together
  • Valuable Links
    • Visit EdChoice’s website here

Innovation & Automobiles

  • Session Summary: This structured conversation looked at innovation in the automobile sector, and sparked questions on a variety of upcoming technological advances.
  • Speakers:
    • Senator Donna Kim | @DonnaMercadoKim
      Hawaii State Legislature, NFWL Vice Chair
    • Amandine Muskus, DSc | @Kia
      Senior Manager, Government Affairs and Branding, Kia Motors Corporation
  • Valuable Links:
    • Lean more about Kia’s innovation here

The Importance of Workplace Equity and Culture

  • Session Summary: This session looked at the effects of workplace culture, and address issues including the need for inclusion, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for all employees.
  • Speakers:
    • Emily Dickens, J.D. | @SHRMEmily
      Corporate Secretary, Chief of Staff
      Head of Government Affairs, Society for Human Resource Management
    • Senator Roxanne J. Persaud | @SenatorPersaud
      New York State Legislature
    • Barbara Bentley
      Chief Talent Officer, Catto & Catto LLP
    • Valuable Links:

Preventing Financial Abuse of the Elderly

  • Session Summary: Protecting your loved ones in a digital and uncertain world can seem difficult. This session discussed the tools and resources available to help identify and address risk factors that may hint at elder financial abuse or exploitation, and ways to help deal with the suspected abuse in a professional and confidential manner.
  • Speakers:
    • Lauree Peterson-Sakai | @WellsFargo
      SVP Elder Risk Strategy Leader, Wells Fargo & Company
    • Anne Wilson Larkin | @WellsFargo
      Elder Risk Relationship Leader, Wells Fargo & Company
  • Valuable Links
    • Session presentation
    • Know what to look for to help protect older family members, vulnerable adults, and friends from financial fraud via WellsFargo here

Addressing a Variety of Timely Health Care Topics in 60 Minutes

  • Session Summary: This session will look at how access to comprehensive, quality health care services is critical for maintaining health, preventing and managing disease. It will also take on a wide variety of pressing healthcare topics, including bad trial ads, access to forensic exam services for sexual assault victims, and mandates on prescription drug coverage.
  • Speakers
    • Debra Geihsler | @ActivateHC
      Principal, Activate Healthcare
    • Stacey L. Worthy
      Counsel, Aimed Alliance
    • Shruti Kulkarn
      Counsel, Aimed Alliance

Telecom Policy Update

  • Session Summary: This session looked at a variety of issues facing the telecom world, including the expansion of 5G, internet privacy, and more.
  • Speakers:
    • Shane Tews | @AEI
      Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
    • Melissa Glidden Tye | @verizon
      Vice President of Public Policy, Verizon
  • Valuable Links
    • Visit AEI’s website for research on technology and innovation here
    • Learn more about Verizon’s work here

Minority Businesses

  • Session Summary: This session will feature information on a new Small Business Supplier Diversity Agency that provides an all inclusive list of firms which have been certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Speaker:
    • Commissioner Tiffany Boyle | @voteboyle
      Newport News Commission of the Revenue, Virginia
  • Valuable Links:
    • Learn more about the Commission here

America at Work

  • Session Summary: Creating manufacturing jobs is of critical importance to our future. This session speaker presented a deep dive into a report developed by McKinsey, with input from Aspen Institute, National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, US Conference of Mayors and others about the impact and need for jobs in the manufacturing sector.
  • Speaker:
    • Deborah Herron | @Walmart
      Director, Public Affairs and State & Local Government Relations, Walmart
  • Valuable Links:

The Different Faces of Patriotism

  • Session Summary: This session featured a discussion on veteran policy and the financial, emotional and educational support needs of the Naval Special Warfare Community. It also featured the powerful story of a woman and her true story of an unlikely alliance to stop the atrocities of a warlord.
  • Speakers:
    • Introduction Robert (Bob) Mayo
      President of Mayo Consulting Group, Inc.
    • Senator Gayle Harrell | @Gayle_Harrell
      Florida State Legislature, NFWL Board
    • Robin King | @NavySEALfnd
      CEO, Navy Seal Foundation
    • Shannon Sedgwick Davis
      CEO of Bridgeway Foundation, Author of To Stop a Warlord
  • Valuable Links:
    • Hear Shannon’s story again via NPR here
    • Learn more about the Navy Seal Foundation here

Complex State Cannabis Policy

  • Session Summary: This session looked at how marijuana policy has changed over the years, how policy differs across the country, and what is coming next.
  • Speakers:
    • Speakers Alex Lleras | @weedmaps
      Government Affairs, Weedmaps
    • Cedric Haynes | @weedmaps
      Government Affairs, Weedmaps
    • Dara Servis | @_NJCIA
      Executive Director, New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association
  • Valuable Links:


Parity for Pumps – This roundtable looked at removing consumer barriers to breastfeeding by eliminating taxes on pumps and supplies

  • Speaker Liz Malm and Morgan Arnold, MultiState Associates

Energy Workforce Discussion – This roundtable looked at how one company’s operations have a massive local community impact

  • Speaker: Julie Klumpyan, Executive Director of Government Affairs, Valero

How Railroads Keep Traffic Moving provided a deep dive into how privately maintained railroads serve the nation’s freight needs and reduce traffic on public roads

  • Speaker: Lindsay Mullins, Executive Director of State Government Affairs, BNSF Railway

Balanced Transportation Depends on Balanced Policy discussed how public policy directly affects how many highway lane-miles are consumed by freight. Learn how policy decisions impact modal balance and equity – and the number of trucks on your highways

  • Speaker:Brenda Mainwaring, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs, Union Pacific Railroad

Expanding Rural Broadband – Strategies to reduce the digital divide

  • Speaker: Kelly Wismer, Legislative Affairs Director, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Wind Energy Update – Developing the workforce, cost of wind and renewables, and economic development in the sector

  • Speaker: Susan Sloan, Vice President of State Policy at American Wind Energy Association

Ending Child Marriage – Discussion of changing old laws to prevent abuse

  • Speaker:Senator Katrina Shealy, South Carolina State Legislature, NFWL Board

Listen First – How can elected officials learn from one another, and take a moment to listen first?

  • Speaker: Senator Carol Blood, Nebraska State Legislature

Conference Resolutions

  • Resolution – Regarding the continued importance of civil discourse and better discussions
  • Resolution – Supporting National Internet Privacy Standards
  • Resolution – Supporting Parity for Pumps

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