Leading the way

Eileen Burke-Trent

Photo By dustin hyman

Eileen Burke-Trent wears many hats. One of them is that of county-wide organizer for The League of Women Voters in both Butte and Plumas counties. In addition to being an advocate for human rights, Burke-Trent owns an organic farm in Gridley and is a passionate sled-dog trainer. After previous corporate employers left her feeling somewhat jaded (due to unethical business practices), she thought it best to start her own “socially responsible” company: Green Planet Financial. Burke-Trent manages to participate in and organize myriad LWV events despite her full and eclectic schedule. This year the organization is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a number of events:

March 7, 1 p.m.—City Hall, mayoral proclamation, then a march to Women’s Club for a 2 pm movie (Iron Jawed Angels, starring Hilary Swank), tea and discussion.

March 14, 2 p.m.—Paradise Public Library, movie, march, tea and discussion.

March 21, 2 p.m.—Ehmann House in Oroville for movie, tea and discussion.

What is the mission statement for the LWV?

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public-policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Tell me about the history of LWV.

The struggle to gain women’s right to vote was closely linked with achieving civil rights for African Americans and with providing workers’ rights in general, including establishing child-labor laws. By means of peaceful protest, the LWV inspired such great civil-rights advocates as Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. Everything we do has a multigenerational aspect. We have one foot grounded in our historical past, while the other foot is striding boldly forward toward the future.

What has the LWV’s been doing since helping to achieve women’s suffrage in 1920?

We have been protectors of democracy. One of our main endeavors has been to provide intelligent voter information. We need young people to understand the long-term consequences of current decision making; it is of paramount importance for citizens of a democracy to be well-informed.

What does the LWV do with annual membership fees?

The money goes toward educational materials. It allows us to provide mailers and host community events. The LWV is highly respected for our ability to host nonpartisan debates in various communities. We feel it is our civic responsibility to provide education and awareness for voters; this helps to ensure that responsible public servants are elected into office.