2011 Changemakers: ‘Women Making Change’

Video by AAUW and TPT documents political women in Minnesota

Clockwise from top left: Sandy Wollschlager, Joan Growe, Audrey Bennett, Joanell Dyrstad, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Kathryn Pearson


“There were stories waiting to be told,” is the way Sandy Wollschlager explained it. And there were stories she was afraid would be lost if not recorded.

In 2009, Wollschlager approached Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) with the idea of creating a documentary on stories of Minnesota women who have made change in the political arena. TPT-which has a national model of working in partnership with nonprofits-collaborated with the Red Wing branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), of which Wollschlager is a member. The Minnesota Women’s Consortium joined in, becoming the fiscal agent, and the documentary “Women Making Change” was under way.

Wollschlager and other members of the Red Wing AAUW created a list of more than 200 women to potentially interview and raised funds through grants. TPT made the final selections of Minnesota women with a focus on Goodhue County, where Red Wing is located. Tom Trow, of TPT, was the executive in charge-Hlee Lee, of TPT, was the writer, interviewer, producer and editor of the program.

The DVD premiered Sept. 24 at the Sheldon Theater in Red Wing. It has aired on TPT and is available on the video vault of its website. Copies are for sale through the AAUW. A classroom study guide is being written and it is expected that a class based on the program will satisfy a high school graduation standard. In April 2012, at the state AAUW convention, a “program in a box” will be presented with all the materials needed for a group presentation of the documentary.

“I hope it inspires women to run for office or at least get involved in their communities,” Wollschlager said. “It also recognizes some of the challenges that women have overcome and how far we have come. As Joan Growe said in the video, ‘It takes a long time to make change.'”

BE A CHANGEMAKER:
Contact the Red Wing AAUW to get a copy of the DVD for your local high school history class-or for your local women’s group, book group or neighborhood gathering. $15, www.rwab-aauw.org
View the video: http://tinyurl.com/c5tfk87

“If you don’t like something, work to change it.”
— Sandy Wollschlager, DFL State Rep., 2007-09

“Women are less likely to run for office. Women are less likely to see themselves as qualified to run for office even when women and men are equally qualified.”
— Kathryn Pearson, Asst. Professor, Univ. of Minn. Political Science Dept.

“The men had nothing to do with it. Because why would they? We were going to lose. No one endorsed me except women’s groups. No one paid any attention to me. The women who were the closest to the campaign, who worked on it the hardest, had this awakening moment. We can do this. We can make a difference.”
— Joan Growe, Secretary of State, 1975-99 and DFL State Rep., 1973-74

“I would always say, ‘Vote for me first because I am the most qualified person-and then because I happen to be a woman.'”
— Margaret Anderson Kelliher, MN Speaker of the House, 2007-11

“Stand up for what you believe in … don’t ever let anyone tell you just because you are a girl you can’t do it, because you can.”
— Audrey Bennett, Tribal President, Prairie Island, 1998-2008

“Women bring a different approach. They are not solely there for the power rush that might come. They are there because they want to accomplish something for the people they represent.”
— Joanell Dyrstad, Lieutenant Governor, 1991-95 and Red Wing Mayor, 1985-91