Orlando, Fla. — Members of the National Organization for Women voted Saturday to elect Toni Van Pelt president of the organization. Gilda Yazzie was elected vice president.
Toni Van Pelt, Gila Yazzie
Yazzie, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation in Durango, Colo., has served on NOW’s national board since the early 2000s. Both will relocate to Washington, D.C. to lead the organization.
NOW’s current president, Terry O’Neill, and vice president, Bonnie Grabenhofer, will conclude their eight-year tenure as leaders of the national organization on July 31, 2017.
“Toni and Gilda worked hard to win their election, and I congratulate them wholeheartedly,” said O’Neill. “As long-time local and national activists, they have proven themselves capable organizers prepared to resist misogyny in all its forms. As I pass the torch to these good women, I wish them all the best.”
“As president, I will work tirelessly to build an unapologetically intersectional feminist movement,” said Van Pelt. “NOW’s progressive voice and grassroots strength are essential to resist misogyny and to achieve fundamental equality and justice for all.”
“We are eager to continue the fight to dismantle interconnected systems of oppression–including racial injustice, LGBTQIA discrimination, and economic inequality,” said Yazzie. “Challenging times lie ahead for feminists, but we will lead the grassroots movement to fight back!”
M.E. Ficarra , firstname.lastname@example.org , 951-547-1241
Toni Van Pelt’s acceptance speech:
Thank you so much for electing Gilda and me as President and Vice President. We are humbled and we are honored. And I’m so excited! I can’t wait to get to Washington to do our work.
First and foremost, we want you to know we intend to keep our campaign promises.
We have been challenged in this election, all of us in this room and throughout the organization to look within, to recognize the problems of racism and homophobia and the alienation of our young feminists.
The culture within NOW is sadly and not unexpectedly no different than what we have to deal with… every day in our lives, throughout the country and the world.
Women, especially women of color and our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers are marginalized and denigrated…Young women are discounted. Too often they don’t believe they are heard when they speak truth to power.
This has to change. This is our most important work.
We cannot move forward until we address the serious problems that we have within our own organization, bringing those issues to the forefront of our agenda, unpacking racism, dealing with privilege.
And we have to move forward, taking the needs of our marginalized sisters seriously bringing their concerns, their challenges about our organization and our society to the forefront of NOW’s agenda.
We pledge to listen, to acknowledge, to validate, to learn, and to change our behavior toward each other. We pledge to be visibly inclusive, embrace our sisters … women of color, marginalized women, women with disabilities, and our marvelous, brilliant emerging young feminists.
We cannot call ourselves true leaders of the women’s movement without all of us at the table, with an equal voice, brainstorming, arriving at decisions to create a just and equal organization and society.
But before I proceed I want to honor and praise the feminist leaders who came before me, especially Eleanor Smeal, the visionary strategist and astute political stateswoman and Patricia Ireland, Kim Gandy, Terry O’Neill and Bonnie Grabenhofer for their decades of dedicated service and leadership.
And I want to thank our worthy opponents, China and Monica, for their courage to run and to challenge all of us to grow to be the best we can be.
Gilda and I, along with our national board, state and chapter leaders, our grassroots will chart NOW’s course to confront and deal with the serious challenges women, children face in the Trump era. With you at our side.
Again thank you for your vote and confidence in us.
We will not let you down.