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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.

LWVPA Annual Meeting With Guest Speaker Palo Alto Deputy City Manager Chantal Gaines:  Priority Projects & Legislation with Local Impacts

Sunday, May 19th 2024 
12:30 pm - 2:30 pm Palo Alto Baylands Golf Course Conference Room

We are excited to invite all members to join our 2024 Annual Membership Meeting, the most important gathering of the League year! Light lunch is included.  Members will  accomplish the following objectives of the meeting:
*Approve  2024-2025 budget
*Adopt our top program emphases for 2024-2025 (Palo Alto) and for 2024-2026 (National)
*Elect new officers, directors, and a nominating committee
*Hear our guest speaker, Deputy City Manager Chantal Gaines
View the Meeting Packet 

Guest Speaker Bio:
Chantal Cotton Gaines is a coach, author, and executive leader. She has over 15 years’ experience in public service for local governments across the US. Chantal knows the importance of education and lifting as you rise as she has been volunteering and giving back since around age 3 in her hometown, Flint, Michigan. She is currently the Deputy City Manager in Palo Alto, California and leads many interdepartmental efforts and the City’s race and equity work.

Among other things, she is a volunteer Advisor and Board Member for the California Youth and Government program and a long-time member of International City Management Association (ICMA) and the Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC). She chose local (city) government because it is closest to the voices of the people it serves. Chantal graduated from the University of Michigan with an Accelerated Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Public Policy, and Master of Urban Planning. She has also completed certificates, including one at Stanford University.

Winter Luncheon: In Conversation with Donna Norton, a Founder of

Wednesday,  December 6th Noon - 2pm 
Thank you Donna Norton for an inspringing conversation with LWVPA Co-President Judy Kleinberg.  

We learned about how moms are making a difference online, and on the ground, across the nation to advocate for policies like early education, maternal health, and immigrant rights that lift families and mobilize their communities to vote.

Donna Norton is a founding member of and serves as MomsRising’s Executive VP and Chief Advancement & Strategy Officer, helping to develop and drive the strategic direction of MomsRising’s agenda. 

Norton is an innovator and strategic manager with more than 20 years of experience working on women’s rights and gender equality on a variety of policy challenges.  Since 2006, she has led numerous winning campaigns at MomsRising, including the national healthcare campaign, the national early learning campaign, and the national immigration campaign. 

Prior to joining MomsRising, Norton directed the National Workplace Resource Center on Domestic Violence for Futures Without Violence and was the Executive Director of the Southern Alameda County Domestic Violence Law Project. 

Norton has also worked in international development, serving as the Rule of Law Program Officer at U.S. Agency for International Development in Moscow, Russia in 1994-95, conducting research on dowry related violence at the Indian Law Institute, and speaking at numerous conferences and events in Russia while her husband, Michael McFaul, served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012-2014.  

Norton holds a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a master’s degree in public policy and public administration from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University. 

Winter Lunch 2023 Donna Norton Speaker

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 
A large group enjoyed a fun social gathering and an engaging conversation with our Guest Speaker Supervisor Joe Simitian who shared his thoughts, based on his own experiences, on why he believes there is a way to push through and past our current polarization.

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.

Fall Kickoff 2023

Past Speaker Events

Watch video recordings and view photos of past speaker events by clicking on each event’s title.
 Free Speech in the Digital Age and Mass Extinction of American Journalism  KQED's Rachael Myrow  March 27th, 2024   American journalism is struggling to keep up and struggling to stay alive. KQED's Rachael Myrow discusses the state of journalism, the larger trend lines, as well as the challenges in the digital age.

 How is Palo Alto Upgrading Our Electrical Grid for an All-Electric Future ? City of Palo Alto Utilities Director Dean Batchelor, Home Electrification experts Tom Kabat and Cooper Marcus . View the folder with presentation materials HERE.  
October 19th , 2023 
As we switch our homes, buildings and cars from fossil fuels to electricity, we need more electric capacity, resiliency and "smarts" in our grid. Hear City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) Director Dean Batchelor discuss 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.
 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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