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HomeSpeaker Series


Throughout the year, the Palo Alto League of Women Voters hosts a speaker series on topics that are of interest to our members and community. Programs are recorded and available on our YouTube channel. Scroll down to view our speaker events.  Sometimes the League sponsors events with other allied organizations. This happens when the goals/mission/values of the organizations are aligned with League positions (US, California, regional and local) and support or opposition of political parties or candidates is not the organization's primary mission.

October Fall Kickoff: Santa Clara Supervisor Joe Simitian Bridging the Divide - Hope for the Future

Sunday, October 1st  4:00 - 6:00 pm Foster Museum 940 Commercial Street, Palo Alto 
Join us for a fun social gathering and engaging conversation with our Guest Speaker. Supervisor Joe Simitian will share his thoughts, based on his own experiences, on why he believes there is a way to push through and past our current polarization.

This is a great chance to reconnect and meet new friends. Bring a guest and introduce them to the League! Light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Speaker Bio:

Joe Simitian was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2012, re-elected in 2016 and 2020. He represents the Fifth District, which includes Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Saratoga, Stanford, and portions of Sunnyvale and San Jose. 

Joe received his Bachelor of Arts degree from The Colorado College. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in International Policy Studies from Stanford University; a Masters in City Planning degree from the University of California at Berkeley; and a Juris Doctor law degree from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall).

During his tenure in the State Legislature, Joe authored high-impact legislation on energy, water, environment, education, privacy, elder protection, and highway safety.

Joe brings a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds to his work. He has served at all levels of state and local government. Joe also has hands-on experience in the private sector as a public school’s attorney, businessman, and certified city planner. Along with a breadth of international interests and experience, Joe's professional education and training particularly apply to his work in public service.

October Virtual Speakers Dean Batchelor, Palo Alto Utilities Director and Electrification Experts, Tom Kabat and Cooper Marcus: How is Palo Alto Upgrading Our Electric Grid for an All-Electric Future?

All are welcome! Thursday October 19th 7:00pm - 8:15 Via Zoom
As we switch our homes, buildings and cars from fossil fuels to electricity, we need more electric capacity, resiliency and "smarts" in our grid. Join City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) Director Dean Batchelor to hear about CPAU plans to modernize our electric grid, as well as address resident concerns about switching from gas to electric. Tom Kabat will discuss ways to save money while switching to electricity at home, and Cooper Marcus will talk about financial resources and planning to help residents electrify cost-effectively. 

Dean Batchelor:
Dean has served in Palo Alto’s Utilities Department for 15 years. He started with the city in 2008 as the Assistant Director of Utilities. Dean has over 40 years of experience in power, water, gas, wastewater and telecommunications in both investor-owned and municipal environments. Helping customers through challenges gives him a sense of purpose in his work. 

Tom Kabat:
Tom is a former Environmental Quality Commissioner for the City of Menlo Park who has contributed to developing an innovative All-Electric Reach Code for new construction, a Climate Action Plan to reduce emissions 90% by 2030, and other electrification policy measures. He has 30 years of experience in utility energy planning. Tom helped design efficiency programs and managed hydroelectric and renewable energy portfolios for the City of Palo Alto.

Cooper Marcus:
Cooper is the Chief Quitter at QuitCarbon. QuitCarbon helps homeowners gain the confidence and clarity they need to electrify their homes—and helps contractors grow their businesses by being part of the clean energy transition. Cooper believes that society’s move away from fossil fuel presents an incredible opportunity to respond to the climate crisis while improving the quality of life for homeowners, renters, and businesses.    

LWVPA Annual Meeting With Guest Speaker Palo Alto City Mayor Lydia Kou:  City of Palo Alto Priorities for 2023 

Sunday May 7th, 2023
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Thank you Mayor Lydia Kou for being our guest speaker. 

We are excited to invite all members to join our 2023 Annual Membership Meeting! We welcome you to come at 2:00 pm to enjoy refreshments and connect with fellow members. The meeting will begin at 2:30 pm.

Members will first hear from our guest speaker, Palo Alto City Mayor Lydia Kou, on the following City of Palo Alto Priorities for 2023:

Economic Recovery & Transition
Community Health & Safety
Climate Change - Protection & Adaptation
Housing for Social & Economic Balance

Members will then accomplish the following objectives of the meeting:

Approve a 2023-2024 budget
Adopt our top program emphases for 2023-2024 (Palo Alto) and for 2023-2025 (California)
Elect new officers, directors, and a nominating committee 
In our 2023 LWVPA Annual Meeting Kit, you will find the following pertinent information:
Treasurer's Report and Proposed Budget for 2023-2024
2023-2024 Program Adoption
Report of the Election Committee

The Annual Membership meeting is the most important gathering of the League year. Your participation is critical to help shape the important work that we do for the coming year. It's also a great opportunity to connect with fellow League members in-person. Your early registration by April 28 is most appreciated to help us plan. We look forward to seeing you there! 

About Guest Speaker

Lydia Kou is Palo Alto’s Mayor and a City Council member. She was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. Lydia has a long history of community volunteerism spanning her 26+ years in Palo Alto. She served on her neighborhood association, leading her neighborhood emergency preparedness program to a citywide program, organized cultural diversity events and started "movies in the park" as a neighborhood engagement activity. Lydia has also served on various St. Thomas Aquinas parish committees and volunteers at La Comida, a non-profit serving affordable hot lunches to seniors in an enjoyable setting.

During the last six years as a City Council member, Lydia has chaired or been a member of or liaison to many city committees: Chair, Rail Committee; Chair, Policy & Services Committee; liaison to Parks and Recreation Commission, Avenidas, and California Avenue & Downtown Business Associations; and member, Finance Committee, VTA Policy Advisory Committee, and many more. Lydia is committed to her community and believes that a city functions best when it listens to its residents.

Lydia was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Sudan and Guam, and works in real estate with her husband, John St. Clair III.

Event Recap April Guest Speaker: Law Professor Michelle Oberman

Below are a few of Law Professor Oberman's thoughts on "what you can do to support the cause of women's reproductive rights":

1.Educate yourself and share abortion information--Be a student and then become a teacher. Familiarize yourself with websites that have accurate, trustworthy abortion information, such as:

Reprocare Healthline; Aid Access;; Mayday Health

2. Donate to the folks on the ground in states with abortion bans, such as: Right By You (Missouri chat line helping people navigate travel and expenses for out of state, legal abortions); midwest action coalition (abortion fund) or abortion defense network (supporting those needing legal advice or representation).

3. Work to protect voting rights.


Past Speaker Events

Watch video recordings and view photos of past speaker events by clicking on each event’s title.
 How is Our Department Prioritizing Service to Palo Alto Palo Alto Police Chief Andrew Binder
August 23rd, 2023 
After being selected by City Manager Ed Shikada and confirmed by City Council, Andrew Binder began serving as Palo Alto’s 11th Police Chief on August 8th, 2022. Andrew’s 26 years of law enforcement experience include serving eighteen years with the City of San Jose and more than eight years in Palo Alto.
Preventing Gun Violence: What Parents Can Do To Help - LWV Palo Alto Gun Violence Prevention Committee and PTA Council presented a Parent Education Zoom webinar
April 25, 2023
Dr. Erin Holsinger, Stanford pediatrician and noted gun violence researcher; Chloe Chan, Palo Alto High School Student; Stacey Ashlund, LWVPA’s Gun Violence Prevention Committee co-chair and Moms Demand Action volunteer
Voting Rights Film Suppressed & Sabotaged: The Right to Vote & Discussion - Fall Kick-off 
October 2, 2022
Kemi Anike Oyewole, PhD student Stanford University 
Affordable Electrification for Everyone
June 22, 2022
Diane Bailey, Executive Director, Menlo Spark
Bruce Hodges, Founder, Carbon Free Palo Alto
The slide decks for our speakers are here (Bailey) and here (Hodges)
Progress Report on City Priorities - LWVPA Annual Meeting
May 14, 2022 
Ed Shikada, Palo Alto City Manager 
The Road to Democracy Runs Through the Classroom
March 9, 2022
Susie Richardson, Facing History  & Ourselves Board Member
Jennifer DiBrienza, PAUSD Board of Education 
Language of Leadership (for all)
December 9, 2021
Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, Lead Strategist, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Stanford Graduate School of Business 
How to Repair American Democracy
August 2, 2021
Dr. Larry Diamond, Top scholar in Democracy Studies 
Power of Community - LWVPA Annual Meeting
May 15, 2021
Rev. Kaloma Smith, Leader of the University AME Zion Church Palo Alto; Chair, Palo Alto Human Relations Committee 
Climate Crisis Call to Action: Think Globally/Act Locally
March 10, 2021
Christine Luong, Sustainability Manager, City of Palo Alto 
Nicole Angiel, Food Systems Director, Acterra 
The K-12 Opportunity Gap and Its Effect on Equal Access to Education - LWVPA Winter Luncheon
December 3, 2020
Kristen Clark, President and Executive Director, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law  
Genevieve Bonadies Torres, Associate Director, Educational Opportunities Project 
The Personal and the Political: What COVID-19 Reveals and How We Might Respond
June 24, 2020
Julie Lythcott-Haims, Author, speaker, activist, and board member of Black Women’s Health Imperative, Narrative Magazine, and California College of the Arts; she serves on the advisory boards of LeanIn.Org, Sir Ken Robinson Foundation, and Baldwin For the Arts. 
How is the COVID-19 Crisis Impacting American Democracy?
April 29, 2020
Didi Kuo, Associate Director, Research and Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University 
Judge LaDoris Cordell
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