At the League of Women Voters of Evanston Annual Meeting on May 19, President Susan Black presented Women of Achievement awards to Kathy Tate-Bradish, Helen Gagel, Cate Whitcomb and Eleanor Revelle. All have one common theme: the League as a catalyst, influence, and learning laboratory for their personal and professional growth.
Ms. Tate-Bradish, a League volunteer in college, joined the Evanston League in 1988. Since 2004, she has traveled regularly to rural Kenya as a sex-education teacher and trainer. “The foundation of my belief in the League of Women Voters, and in the curriculum I’ve developed to train Kenyan farmers to teach sex education, are one and the same. In the League we do take positions on issues. But we do it after extensive study of the facts. In teaching about HIV and sex, it is important to use facts rather than emotion, religion or subjective judgment to educate.”
Ms. Gagel joined the League in 1974, and within weeks was asked to fill a vacant slot on the board as public relations chair. “As a stay-at-home mom, the League was my vehicle for keeping my professional skills intact, and for getting involved in truly meaningful work in my community.” Her career has been in communications and public affairs for nonprofit organizations. She is now executive director of North Shore Village, an organization for older adults who wish to age in place in their own homes.
Ms. Whitcomb joined the Evanston League in the mid-1990s. She cites her League experience as central to her “becoming American” after spending her childhood and adolescence in India, where her first political experience was organizing a mock election during 1960 presidential campaign.
As the assistant to the vice president for student affairs at Northwestern University, she worked with students interested in civic engagement, including voter registration drives. “Students gained not only practical knowledge but a sense of agency and ownership in the political process. I took students with me to League events and workshops. One of those students is now employed in the West Wing of the Obama White House. Others are pursuing degrees in policy studies or have run for political office. One of them is still a member of the Evanston League.”
Ms. Revelle joined the League in 1976, and has been a League leader at the local, state and national level. She is a former board member and president of both the Evanston and the Illinois League of Women Voters and served on the national board as chair of the advocacy committee. She has held leadership roles in numerous community endeavors, most notably the Evanston Community Foundation.
In recent years climate action has become her primary focus – “an all-absorbing new career” for her. As chair of the national League’s Climate Change Task Force, she developed an online Climate Action Toolkit. She also writes about climate-related topics and sustainability for the Evanston RoundTable, and is a founding board member of Citizens’ Greener Evanston. She and her husband also host a website (Revelle.net/lakeside) to help others who are interested in having a more energy-efficient home.