Tag Archives: members

Education Outside of the Classroom

The following is a continuation in a series highlighting members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

As Jesse Burns left college to enter an entirely different world, she began to miss an environment that encouraged political discourse and social activism and yearned for a way to continue debating and studying policy issues. Her desires became a reality after she applied for a position with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. It was a place she felt a connection with and it allowed her to become more involved in the community. Jesse says others should get involved with the League because:

“…the League is a multi-issue organization—registers voters, runs debates and holds educational forums— there is a place for every interest. So long as you have a core belief that participating in government is important, there is a place for you in the League.”

One of the most important aspects of the League is that it encourages active participation in government. It is possibly the most crucial part of a democratic society. Jesse recognizes how important voting is but thinks it may be even more important to understand what exactly you’re voting for. While discussing this, Jesse says:

“Get to know the candidates, know where they stand on issues that are important to you, and make an informed decision in every election— whether it’s voting for the school board or the President.”

Knowledge about candidates and issues can really shape our society for the better. Without knowledge we are unable to make informed decisions about how to vote. This is why the League is such an vital aspect of our community. Not only does it play a positive role in our community, but it has a huge impact on League members and staff. How has the League shaped Jesse’s life? Jesse says:

“It’s offered me an education I haven’t been able to find elsewhere. It’s incredible what I have been able to learn from other League members. Often, subjects that I thought I wasn’t interested in have come alive when listening to others’ passion.”

While working at the League, Jesse’s passion only grew stronger and allowed her to make a huge impact on the community. As the Communications Director, Jesse has been able to get the word out about the League through newsletters, the League’s Facebook page, and blogs. She has also worked hard to get election information out to the public like candidates’ answers to policy questions, analysis of public questions, and voting rights information.

Jesse was able to have an impact on such a wonderful organization at a young age. While speaking about the importance of younger generations to join the League, Jesse says:

“The League has a lot to offer to young people. It extends their education outside of the classroom and looks wonderful on a resume. The League offers them training that they won’t find elsewhere including how to moderate debates, working on a board and in committees, and advocating for certain legislation.”

Younger generations of women and men need to develop the same passion that Jesse has for the League. Their participation in the League can greatly benefit the community while positively contributing to their own lives. When speaking about her favorite part of the League, Jesse says:

“My favorite part of the League is the people I’ve met. League members have become role models to me.”

More than an Internship

The following is the first in a series highlighting members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

When Lauren Fisher accepted an internship with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, her interests in women’s studies and politics were just beginning to develop. The League provided her with an opportunity to combine all of her interests and expand her knowledge even further. Throughout her time at the League, Lauren was exposed to many different aspects of nonprofit work. Speaking about her experiences at the League, Lauren says:

“I got to know the New Jersey political scene, and for the first time, I actually felt knowledgeable about policies that were being introduced in the State House. Initially I was unsure as to how that type of internship would relate to my career goals, but the experience has actually helped to shape my endeavors.”

Through her internship with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Lauren was able to gain a unique experience that contributed greatly to her life. Her background in women’s studies and politics allowed her to give back to the League through various projects including improving and working to expand the League’s Running & Winning Workshop, a popular program that encourages young women to consider a political career.  When asked why others should get involved with the League, Lauren says:

“The LWVNJ is a mobilizing organization.  Not only does it get its members, along with others, to participate in protests or advocacy events, but it also promotes female involvement in politics.  The values of the LWVNJ are not geared toward a certain political party, which is refreshing since party loyalty does not interfere with what the League advocates for.”

Along with the League’s nonpartisan stance, educating and encouraging the public to actively participate are important aspects of its mission. On voting, Lauren says:

“It is one of the main ways one can actively participate in government.  It demands that the voter be—at the very least—somewhat in touch with what the candidates stand for, and how they will handle issues currently facing the US.  I think for women, voting is especially important because it’s a right we did not always have.  We weren’t a part of the segment of society that had a say in who would be in charge.  Actively participating in government also gives people a chance to voice disapproval, advocate, and to stand up for what they believe in.”

As Lauren notes, women were not always able to freely vote for who would govern over them. Women’s history is a valuable piece of the League and it continues to encourage their right to actively participate in government. Younger generations of women and men are included in this population and therefore should seek opportunities that will enhance their education, just as Lauren has done. Speaking of the importance of young men and women to become involved with the League, Lauren says:

“I think it is definitely important for women and men to become involved with the LWVNJ and organizations like it.  Men’s involvement in organizations that promote women in politics is important for developing a vital partnership and mutual respect.  Also, as more people get involved in organizations that are politically active, then there is a stronger force against bad policies or rather, for good policies.  Younger generations need to get involved so as not to turn into complacent voters who side with whoever their friends are voting for, and also to promote political action to people they know, people younger than them and even people older than them.”