The Montana Women’s Lobby (MWL) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit corporation organized to “develop, promote, aid, and maintain legislation of interest to women, specifically in the areas of: (a) economics, (b) health and reproductive rights, (c) education, and (d) violence and legal rights.” MWL has both individual and organizational members.
Board of Directors
The seven women currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Lobby include appointed representatives from our three constituent organizations—AAUW-Montana, Bozeman BPW, and Montana BPW—as well as individual members who serve in an “unaffiliated” capacity. MWL welcomes anyone interested in serving on the Board, especially those from Eastern Montana, to contact us.
The members of the 2012–13 Board are:
Vickie Amundson (representing MT BPW)
Sally Babcock (representing Bozeman BPW)
Corky Bush (Unaffiliated)
Diane Ehernberger (representing AAUW-MT)
Casey Magan (Unaffiliated)
Carol Potera (representing AAUW-MT)
History of the Lobby
At a “Fighting the New Right” conference, held in Missoula in the Spring of 1982, a small group of women introduced the idea to form a lobbying coalition focusing on women’s issues. The group was not to be a political action committee or aligned strictly with any political party. Instead the coalition would pool its resources to hire a professional lobbyist to work on issues determined by the membership. The response was strong and within a few months the Montana Women’s Lobby was formed under its original name of the Women’s Lobbyist Fund (WLF). Its first board meeting was held in Helena in September 1982. The first officers included Kathy Van Hook, president; Sid Clack, vice president; and Connie Erickson, treasurer. Early organizational support came from Planned Parenthood, Montanans for Progressive Policy (MAPP), and Montana Committee for an Effective Legislature (MontCEL). In many cases the leadership for the WLF came from the leadership of these groups. Drawing from considerable organizational and political talents, charter members Kathy Van Hook, Paula Petrik, and Diane Sands pulled together a large and diverse membership, including abortion rights activists, labor leaders, environmentalists, feminists, gay and lesbian organizations, human rights groups, and advocates for children and the handicapped.
By the end of the first year the Fund had gathered over $20,000 from supporters across the state and across party lines. By the mid-1980s, the WLF was an established political force. Their activities included testifying before legislative committees; sponsoring “town meetings” to educate the public; providing leadership training for women; and giving technical and monetary support to local political groups around the state. To reflect their expanding activities and goals, the WLF changed its name to the Montana Women’s Lobby. Over the years the areas of major concern for the Montana Women’s Lobby have included abortion rights; affirmative action; AIDS awareness and prevention; childcare; child and spousal abuse; comparable worth in the work place; human rights; non-gender based insurance rates; promoting women to seek public office; reforming Veterans Preference laws; sexual harassment at work and in the classroom; and welfare reform.