Branch Initiatives

How Branches Advance Public Policy

St. Augustine:  Human Trafficking Forum

A public forum hosted by the St. Augustine branch January 14, 2023, not only educated community members on the issue of human trafficking, but also provided a means to learn about resources and partner with other local agencies and organizations. The forum featured a panel of experts including: 

  • Christy Gillis, DCF and Freedom 7 HT Taskforce
  • Lauren Page, Coordinator of Counseling Services, St Johns County School District
  • Kelly Posze, National Director, Her Song
  • Dr. Roberto Potter, UCF professor, Director, Center for the Study of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
  • Dep. Edward Scoggins, Special Victims Unit, St Johns County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tania Schmidt-Alpers, attorney

Panelists shared the scale of human trafficking in Florida, and helped attendees understand the legal, social, and human impacts. and the importance of public policy to address the issue. 

The branch organized a number of information tables from local organizations including Flagler Care Connect+, St Johns County School district, Betty Griffin Center, Dept. of Children and Families, AAUW ST Augustine Branch Human Trafficking Committee, Her Song, and the Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.


Greater Naples: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Workshop
Ways to Build an Authentic Culture of Belonging

Attendees at a workshop hosted by the Greater Naples branch March 13, 2023, participated in a working session on how to build a culture of belonging in their own organizations.  Nancy S. Niemi, president of Framingham State University in Massachusetts, presented the workshop. She has worked with universities across the country on this topic.

Even though the branch was unable to attract attendees from other organizations, the workshop was successful in involving members. As a result of their participation, they identified tools to initiate conversations with community agencies who can inform, collaborate, and support the branch’s efforts toward intersectionality, equity, and inclusion.

According to the project report, “It has provided us with a springboard to begin work in our branch and knowledge to inform our outreach efforts to community organizations.  The information that we received from Dr. Niemi on her own attempts to enter conversations about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and her stories of success and failure served to validate our efforts and to direct our next steps.“


Weston and Nova Branches: Academic Freedom Presentation
Elegy for Academia: Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the Future of the Profession

Faculty, staff, and students of Nova Southeastern University were among the 50 participants at this presentation, April 26, 2023, designed to explore the topic of academic freedom and its relevance in today’s society. 

The speaker, Jon M. Garon, is a law professor and Director of the Intellectual Property, Cybersecurity, and Technology Law program at Nova Southeastern University.

The session highlighted the importance of academic freedom in protecting the rights of teachers, students, and researchers to pursue their work without fear of censorship or retribution.

We also provided an overview of the legal and ethical frameworks that underpin academic freedom and discussed the challenges that arise when these principles are threatened or violated.  Garon drew upon a range of academic and legal sources to provide a comprehensive and balanced view of the topic.

Participants actively engaged in the discussion and raised a range of thought-provoking questions and comments. The presentation stimulated critical thinking and provided an opportunity for participants to deepen their understanding of the importance of academic freedom in contemporary society. Branch president Kamala Anandam ended with a call to action and the audience was provided with a handout with resources for further information.