Making Democracy Work

Activities and Presentations

Community presentations

Presentations and events for our members and for the public

Photos of past events are available on Flickr.   Watch our calendar page for future Hot Topic lunches, TED Talk viewings and other events; community members are welcome and encouraged to attend!

New Castle County LWV: Recent Events

Social Media (October 2017)

What is Social Media, and how should we be using it to promote the League? social media icons For the October 2017 Hot Topic, Jennifer Wells of Jenn Wells Design led us through an overview of Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and explained how they are used. As a blogger and young entrepreneur, Jennifer maintains a strong social media presence for her own business, and graciously agreed to share her knowledge with us in two sessions at the Greene Turtle in Christiana.

Click here for the social media presentation slides.

Michelle Lauer
Michelle Lauer

ACE and Addiction (September 2017)

On Sept 25 & 26, psychiatric nurse Michelle Lauer spoke on the topic of trauma or adverse childhood events and their impact on substance use disorders. In her talk, Michelle explored types of addiction, and the relationship of Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) on future health behaviors.

Related resources: ACE and Resiliency score-sheets can be found on the website. These can be used as medical screening or individual self-awareness tools. Trauma Matters Delaware, whose mission is to support trauma-informed treatment approaches, invites community members to join their mailing list and/or ACES Connection group at

Human Trafficking Forum (September 2017)

On Saturday September 9, LWVNCC helped to host a forum about Human Trafficking in Delaware at Peniel United Methodist Church in Newport. Program sponsors included the League of Women Voters of New Castle County (LWVNCC), American Association of University Women (AAUW), ZoŽ Ministries, Prison Ministries of Delaware, Inc.

Stop Human Trafficking Forum sponsors: AAUW, Zoe Ministries, Prison Ministries of Delaware

This inspiring and information-packed forum brought together representatives from law enforcement, the court system, government agencies, academia, and private non-profit groups to exchange ideas. All stressed the multifaceted nature of the problem and the importance of collaboration between the groups in all sectors to tackle it.

Panelists and speakers included...

  • Major Daniel Meadows, Delaware State Police
  • Detective Adrienne Owen, Delaware State Police
  • Commissioner Mary McDonough, Delaware Court of Common Pleas
  • Yolanda Schlabach, ZoŽ Ministries of Delaware
  • Nancy McGee, Coordinator, Sexual Assault Network of Delaware (SAND)
  • Johanna Bishop, Director, Behavioral Sciences Program, Wilmington University
  • Cheri Collins and Sandy Bowman, Meet Me at the Well Foundation
  • Fay Whittle, Prison Ministries of Delaware

Yolanda Schlabach gave an eye-opening video presentation at the forum. Yolanda's similar TEDx talk, filmed in October 2016 in Wilmington, titled Sex Trafficking in the U.S.: Young Lives, Insane Profit is a good primer for those who think sex trafficking doesn't happen in our state, or to people "like us."

Panelists also recommended the books Walking Prey by Holly Austin Smith, Nobody's Girl by Barbara Amaya, and The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores, as resources to help us understand how ordinary people become trapped into the world of human trafficking.

Community members who suspect a human trafficking situation (sex slavery or forced labor) should call the Polaris Project hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or email

Fight Like Your World Depends On It
Fight Like Your World Depends On It

An Inconvenient Sequel (August 2017)

August's Hot Topic was a viewing and informal discussion of Al Gore's climate change movie, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017)".

LWVNCC will request this film along with the original "An Inconvenient Truth" (2007) to be purchased by the New Castle library system to support continued private screenings in our area; its run at the Brandywine Regal Cinemas is now over.

This August Hot Topic marked the start of a new practice of holding one session in the daytime, and an additional one the following evening, to make League events accessible to more members.

DE House Bill Header (sample) Legislative Update (June 2017)

June's Hot Topic lunch was held at Michaels Restaurant on Monday, June 26, 2017. LWV volunteer lobbyists and committee chairs discussed a wide range of Delaware bills covering government, health, elections, the environment, justice, etc.

The current status of all DE House and Senate bills for the 2017-2018 session is available at the website.

Some of the more notable current Delaware bills are listed in this 2017 legislative summary.

Health Innovations Initiative (April 2017)

Julane Miller-Armbrister, Julane Miller-Armbrister, Executive Director of the Delaware Center for Health Innovation (DCHI) gave an informative talk for the April Hot Topic explaining how DCHI is seeking to transform Delaware's health care "system" so that it may better address patient and provider needs and improve population health while achieving greater value by reducing per capita costs of healthcare. A key facet of this transformational work is an increasing emphasis on person-centered care, which involves engaging consumers in defining goals for their health and healthcare so that they may access care accordingly.

Colored Conventions (March 2017)

Denise Burgher gave a well-received talk on "Colored Conventions" on March 27, 2017. You may read Burgher's full talk here. The organization has a website at At the website you can follow the group's activities and keep abreast of their discoveries.

Two Great Armies and a Battle (Feb 2017)

Bill Conley In February, a lively group listened to a dramatic and exciting presentation on the topic "Delaware, 1777: Two Great Armies And A Battle." The speaker was Bill Conley, President of the W3R in Delaware (French army role at Yorktown) and coordinator of the preservation of Cooch's Bridge battlefield in Newark.

Conley provided colorful maps to show the routes taken by the British, French and American armies, and spoke about life in the army and therevolutionary war battles which took place in our area and surroundingstates. In addition, he shared W3R's work with the National ParkService in creating the new National Historic Trail - the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route - through Delaware.

Bill Conley and his family are raising funds for the Brian Conley Resiliency Center that they are creating in Middletown, DE, as part of their efforts with their Warriors Helping Warriors organization. The center will help military veterans adapt to post-service life.

Aging Out of Foster Care (Jan 2017)

At the January 2017 Hot Topic lunch, featured speaker Nicole E. Magnusson from the Delaware Attorney General's Office gave a talk titled "Aging Out: From the Nest to the Sky", focusing on programs that are assisting the young people as they age out of foster care. Click to view the foster care presentation highlights.

Bettering outcomes for youth who have experienced foster care has been one of Nicole's passions for quite some time. She has been involved with the improvements of the child welfare system in Delaware since she was placed in foster care with her younger sibling during her senior year of high school at age 17.

Soon after entering care in 2007, Nicole became involved with the Delaware Youth Advisory Council, a statewide group comprised of current and former foster youth. She has been appointed to serve as a Commissioner to the Child Protection and Accountability Commission and she sits on the Board of Directors for Children and Families First.

LWVNCC Past Events - 2016

Human Trafficking (2016 - 2017)

After an initial Hot Topic Lunch presentation by DE Deputy Attorney General Abigail Layton on the topic in April 2016, LWVNCC co-sponsored Human Trafficking (Exploitation) Forums with panelists and speakers in June 2016 at First Presbyterian Church Education Building in Newark, in September 2016 at MOT Senior Center in Middletown, and in May 2017 at Masci Hall (St. Helena's RC Church) in Wilmington. See our Current Issues page for more on this ongoing problem in Delaware.

Opiate Use in Pregnancy (Nov 2016)

Nov 2015 Hot Topic Lunch At the Hot Topic lunch in November 2016, featured speaker Wendy M. Felts APRN, MSN, NNP-BC provided a reality check of the problem facing our state and the nation about addiction "My Baby Was NOT Born Addicted": Opiate Use in Pregnancy.

Wendy M. Felts Felts is the Nurse Manager of the Pediatric Unit at Christiana Hospital, which houses the Continuing Care Nursery. This nursery allows for extended hospital stays for any newborn, including those being observed for or showing signs of substance withdrawal. She also covers as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and manages the Maternal/Child per diem pool, also at Christiana.

Documentary Film Screenings (Oct 2016)

In October 2016 LWVNCC sponsored screenings of Brave New Films "Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA" at two locations in member's homes.

The film tells stories of how gun violence affects the lives of everyday Americans. It features personal stories from people across the country who have been affected by gun violence, including survivors and victims' families. The film looks into gun tragedies including unintentional shootings, domestic violence, suicides, mass shootings, and trafficking - and what we can do to put an end to this profit-driven crisis.

The goal of the film is to serve as a tool for individuals and organizations to use to create a dialogue and inspire action in their communities. It is completely free to screen.

Wilmington Mayoral Candidate Forum 2016

The League of Women Voters of New Castle County (LWVNCC) together with the Triangle Neighborhood Association sponsored a pre-primary forum for candidates for mayor of Wilmington, DE, in September 2016 at Salesianum High School in Wilmington. Approximately 200 people attended the debate. This was a particularly crowded race, with eight candidates in the Democratic primary.

                        LWVNCC 2016 Pre-Primary Forum for Wilmington Mayoral Candidates

Newark City Council Forum 2016

Candidates for Newark City Council districts 3 and 5 fielded questions from residents of Newark at a candidates' forum in preparation for the city election April 12. About 75 people attended the event to learn the positions of the candidates on subjects concerning the city, including parking near Main Street businesses, the city budget, development, dealing with storm water and other issues.

The event was sponsored by the LWVNCC, AAUW, Newark; and the Newark Senior Center. It was moderated by Carole Walsh, committee co-chair with Judy Taggart; Cami Seward coordinated the volunteers who reviewed questions.

Transit-Friendly Development (Feb 2016)

On Monday, February 22nd, 2016, Heather Dunigan from WILMAPCO and James Wilson from Bike Delaware discussed transit-oriented development (TOD) in Delaware. Heather talked about the principles and practicalities of TOD, and James discussed a specific bill currently in our State Senate, SB 130, the Healthy and Transit-Friendly Development Act, a bill endorsed by the League.

Both Heather's hand-out and Jame's hand-out are available to read in PDF format, and additional studies on transit-oriented development can be found on the WILMAPCO website.

During her 20 years with WILMAPCO, Heather Dunigan, Principal Planner, has been working to promote transportation choices through community planning.

James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware, a non-government, member-supported, non-profit advocacy organization whose mission is to make cycling a mainstream and family-friendly transportation option in Delaware.

Archive - 2012 thru 2015

Constitutional Amendments (2015)

In recent years advocates have arisen for a convention to be called by the states under Article V of the Constitution to propose amendments to the US Constitution. Proponents include some conservative groups seeking a balanced budget amendment, and some liberal groups seeking campaign finance reform (largely in reaction to the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC which allows unlimited corporate spending on campaign ads). Others oppose such a convention as too dangerous, fearing a "runaway" gathering that could propose many more changes beyond the topic for which it was convened.

    Constitutional amendments vs. constitutional conventions, a talk by DE Law Dean Rod Smolla

In September 2015 LWVNCC co-sponsored a talk by Dean Rod Smolla of Widener Law School on the topic of amending the US Constitution. Dean Smolla addressed the subject in an engaging, interactive manner by hypothesizing that a constitutional convention had indeed taken place which proposed many far-reaching amendments, and then convening a mock Supreme Court hearing with the adience members to decide whether or not it was legal for the fictional convention to stray from its original purported purpose this way.

Port Development Panel 2015

A stimulating evening of presentations and questions and answers was enjoyed by about 85 people, on the topic, "Perspectives on Expansion of Delaware Ports." The panel took place in November, 2015.

Able panelists included John Flaherty, President of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government (facilitator), Gene Bailey, Administrator of the Port of Wilmington (long-term contract), Dr. Mike Casson, Director of the University Center for Economic Development & International Trade (economic considerations), Dave Carter, President of the Delaware Audubon Society (environmental considerations, including Coastal Zone Act), Bob Byrd, lobbyist with the Byrd Group (Evraz site), Sen. Bob Marshall, Chair of the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee (current Port of Wilmington site), Kimoko Harris, Business Agent with ILA Local 1883 (RiverEdge site).

Following nine-minute presentations by each panelist, written questions were submitted to Mr. Flaherty, the facilitator, who in turn asked one or more of the panelists to respond.

Clean Water Campaign (2015)

The Hot Topic for May 2015 was "Clean Water Campaign - Delaware's Clear Choice", with featured speaker Blaine Breeding of the Delaware Nature Society. Below is a brief Presentation Summary:

Delaware is faced with issues of polluted water, due to failing infrastructure, population growth, and contamination from chemicals, pesticides, and other harmful contaminates. 67% of Delawarean's think about the quality of their water and believe that their drinking water is contaminated. 1/3 of Delawarean's believe locally caught fish and seafood are not safe to eat. But it's not too late to fix the problem, together we can start to make a difference. From changing some of our habits at home to making larger changes on a State level, we can have clean, clear water that we can be proud of and enjoy. Delaware Nature Society will be working throughout the State, gathering support and educating on the need for action. In addition, we will be working to have our State leaders ensure funds are used to clean our waters.

"Hot Topic" Presentation Notes for 2014 and 2015

Libraries of the Future, April 2015 Sophia Hanson and Marlene Esposito

The Seamen's Center of Wilmington, Februrary 2015 Joan Lyons

Stop the Middle Class Squeeze (affordable housing), November 2014 NCC Councilman Penrose Hollins

The Coastal Zone Act, May 2014 Vic Singer. This presentation was followed up in September 2014 with an LWV tour of the coastal zone.

Choose Health Delaware, March 2014 Joann Hasse

Project Vote Smart, February 2014 Vicky Kleinman

Farm Forum, February 2014 Ruth Linton, Bill Powers and Sherry Kitto

Vision for New Castle County's Department of Land Use, January 2014 Eileen Fogarty

Summer Film Series 2014

The League of Women Voters of New Castle County partnered with Delaware Pacem in Terris and other non-profit groups to sponsor a summer film and discussion series entitled "Restoring Democracy and the Common Good."

  • 7/8/2014 Campaign finance reform post Citizens United and McCutcheon (2010)
  • 7/15/2014 Lobbyist influence and the revolving door Story of Citizens United v FEC (2010)
        and State of Conflict - North Carolina (Bill Moyers 2014)
  • 7/22/2014 March to End Corruption (Bill Moyers 2014)
        and Legalize Democracy (2014 by Move to Amend).
  • 7/29/2014 Gerrymandering and voter suppression Short videos from (2014)
  • 8/5/2014 Corporate ownership of media - Part 1 Shadows of Liberty (2014)
  • 8/12/2014 Corporate ownership of media - Part 2

Newark City Council Forums 2014 and 2015

Forums for the Newark City Council candidates were held on March 26th, 2014 and on March 24, 2015. The League of Women Voters of New Castle County co-sponsored and moderated the events, taking write-in questions from audience members.

The League would like to thank our volunteer videographers Ken Grant and Eden Shand for the full video of the 2014 event.

Newark Mayoral Candidate Forum 2013

Newark mayoral candidates The Newark Mayoral Candidate Forum organized by the League of Women Voters, was attended by nearly 400 Newarkers on November 14, 2013. Candidates responded to a wide range of topics in questions posed by members of the audience. Transparency in government, budget, town and gown issues, and the proposed Data Center were included in the topics covered by the questions. The Wilmington News Journal, WHYY, and the Newark Post covered the event.

Sea Level Rise Awareness Week 2013

Panel members at Southbridge Sea Level Rise Awareness week [Sept 14-22, 2013] was supported by four well-attended League forums throughout the state. Each meeting had a showing of the Michael Oates short film on Delaware sea level rise and flooding was shown, followed by a presentation by Chad Tolman on the scientific basis for sea level rise. Then came a review of options for addressing adaptation issues, presented by a representative of the Coastal Programs Division of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). The final segment of the three events (excluding Southbridge) was a short talk on the moral issues related to sea level rise, given by a local pastor. Southbridge residents were treated not only to a short talk by Michael Oates but also to a pointed set of comments on residents' concerns by Wilmington City Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz.

Presentation Notes for 2013 and previous years

Nuclear Power Generation, November 2013 Kay Gallogly

Female Inmates, October 2013 Baylor warden Wendi Caple

Delaware and fracking in the Marcellus Shale, June 2013 Coralie Pryde

Gun Control in Delaware, April 2013 Brenda Mayrack, Esq.

'Connections' Social Service Agency, February 2013 Cathy McKay

Impact of Healthcare reform on women, November 2012 Dr. Jacqueline Christman

Brownfields in Delaware , April 2012 Pat Todd

Stepping Stones Credit Union, March 2012 Rashmi Rangan

Safe household cleaning, February 2012 Sandra Reddy, RN

Hydrofracking, January 2012 public forum by LWVNCC and Nurses Healing Our Planet

NCC Comprehensive Plan 2012, January 2012 Dave Culver, and League Statement on the NCC Comprehensive Plan, January 2012 LWVNCC

Middletown Whitehall Project, November 2011 Larry Tarabicos

Impacts of Climate Change in the Mid-Atlantic, April 2009 Peter Shultz

Archive - Carrie Chapman Catt Awards

Carrie Chapman Catt Awards 2016

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at Arsht Hall in Wilmington, LWVNCC honored three women who are true community leaders:

Priscilla Rakestraw

LaVaida Owens-White

Moonyeen Klopfenstein

  • Moonyeen (Kloppy) Klopfenstein, registered nurse at Christiana Care for over 50 years and founder of "Loving Arms"
  • LaVaida Owens-White, Faith Community Nurse with over 50 years experience
  • Priscilla B. Rakestraw, formerly Republican National Committeewoman and Development Director of DE. Breast Cancer Coalition; now Development Director for Ministry of Caring

Left to right: Chad Tolman, Sally Millbury-Steen, John Flaherty

Carrie Chapman Catt Awards 2014

The 2014 Carrie Chapman Catt Awards and fund-raiser was held at Deerfield, a lovely venue brand-new to the League. Photos of the event are available on Flickr.

Three community leaders were honored:

  • John D. Flaherty, President of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government
  • Dr. Sally Milbury-Steen, Executive Director of Delaware Pacem in Terris
  • Dr. Chad Tolman, LWVDE Climate Chair and study leader

Carrie Chapman Catt Awards 2012

The Eighth Carrie Chapman Catt Awards ceremony and fundraiser was held in September 2012. The honorees were...

2012 Carrie Chapman Catt Awardees, June MacArtor, Michael Kalmbach and Rashmi Rangan
Left to right: June MacArtor, Michael Kalmbach, Rashmi Rangan

  • Michael Kalmbach, founder of the New Wilmington Art Association (NWAA) collective and The Creative Vision Factory communal art studio
  • June D. MacArtor, Esq., past Delaware LWV President, law professor, and environmental activist
  • Rashmi Rangan, Esq., Executive Director of Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council, past LWVDE President, and founder of the Stepping Stones Community Federal Credit Union in Wilmington