Making Democracy Work

Making Democracy Work Award

History of the Award

Since 2010 the League of Women Voters Whitewater-Area has annually recognized a community leader who has demonstrated through their professional work or volunteerism, ways in which to improve the Whitewater community. The League then honors these exemplary citizens with a Making Democracy Work award, presented with great tribute and celebration at the League's annual holiday gathering in early December.

The League's Making Democracy Work award was developed in 2010 for the purpose of honoring the civic work of individuals in our community during the 90th anniversary year of the formation of the national league and passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. We quickly realized the lasting value and importance of making such a tribute an annual event because there are so many Whitewater citizens deserving of this recognition.

In selecting each year's honoree, the League looks for individuals who have shared and implemented a vision of making Whitewater a safer and fairer place in which to live and those who have mobilized others to work with them to affect positive change in our community. These values exemplify the spirit and the mission of the League. Nominations are submitted from the League's membership to the board, which through consensus makes the final selection. Honorees are invited along with one guest to attend the League's holiday gathering held in their honor. They are presented with a unique certificate and speeches are made in their honor from those who have worked alongside them.

League Members: Nominations are due November 1 of each year. Please refer to the nomination form for details.

Award Winners

2016 Award Recipient
Greg Stewart

The recipient of the 2016 Making Democracy Work Award is Greg Stewart, a social studies teacher at Whitewater High School and in his 27th year of teaching. In 2015, Greg developed a video contest for Whitewater High School students on the importance of voting, voter registration, and the new Photo ID law. The project resulted in 23 video entries and at last year's dinner, we premiered the three winning videos and celebrated the students and their creative work. This year we honor and recognize Greg Stewart for the work his does every day, teaching young students in our community the importance of democracy and how it works.

Stewart is a member of the Wisconsin Geographic Alliance Steering Committee and recipient of the Walmart Teacher of the Year award for 2001.

2015 Award Recipient

Marion Burrows

The League board unanimously voted to honor League member Marion Burrows with the 2015 Making Democracy Work Award for her years of service as a welcoming and informative face of democracy in the Armory on Election Day in her role as Special Election Inspector since the early 1990s, and her commitment to make Whitewater an enriching community in which to live through decades of volunteer work with social service and cultural organizations. Marion's kind and helpful demeanor and wealth of election knowledge have benefited thousands of Whitewater citizens entering the Armory to vote. She made sure they had what they needed before entering the poll, confirmed voters' Ward and Aldermanic District designations, assisted with curbside voting, and substituted at polling tables when needed. For the past 15 years, Marion spearheaded voter registration needs at Fairhaven and Hearthstone, providing voter registration services to new residents and assisting with the absentee voting process.

The league's 5th annual Making Democracy Work award was presented to Emma Lou Sederholm, a fellow league member, in honor of the League's 50th Anniversary year (1964-2014).

Emma Lou Sederholm

In 1964, Emma Lou was one of several community women who worked together to establish a local league in Whitewater. Of all our "founding mothers," Emma Lou alone remains a member of this league to this day. Many have since moved, many, sadly have passed away. We honor Emma Lou for her founding work and 50-year commitment to our league and, in doing so, we also give our heartfelt gratitude and recognition to the entire core group of organizers.

2013 Award Recipients

Anjie Kokan, Jorge Islas, Marge Fischer, Sandra Heyer
Anjie Kokan, Jorge Islas, Marge Fischer, Sandra Heyer

This year the League is presenting its 4th annual Making Democracy Work award to not one person but four individuals who make up a team of teachers in Whitewater's English as a Second Language (ESL) program. They include Program Administrator Sandra Heyer, Level One Teacher Jorge Islas, Level Two and Citizenship Class Teacher Anjie Kokan, and Level Three Teacher Marge Fischer. Congratulations to all four teachers, who work passionately toward the goal of literacy and citizenship. Their record of accomplishment is very impressive. Every single student who has gone through the ESL program and then taken the required testing for citizenship has passed the tests and become a naturalized US citizen. The program is open to immigrants from any country and has assisted many within Whitewater's Latino community transition to English proficiency and citizenship.

The honorees were presented with their awards at the Holiday Dinner at the Whitewater Country Club on December 1. Watch the video of the program here.

2012 Award Recipient

Photo Michele Smith
Michele Smith

Michele Smith, Whitewater City Clerk, was honored in 2012. Since 2000 Michele has diligently worked behind-the-scenes at City Hall and at the polls on election days making sure democracy works in Whitewater. In 2012 Michele steered the Whitewater community through an unprecedented six elections in a contentious political climate, remaining tirelessly nonpartisan, calm, accurate, and fair in her administration.

2011 Award Recipient

Photo Marilyn Kienbaum
Marilyn Kienbaum

Marilyn Kienbaum (1926-2012) was honored in 2011 for her many years of service as a member of the Whitewater Common Council and selfless dedication to those less fortunate within our community through her volunteer work as Director of the Whitewater Food Pantry. Marilyn actively promoted democracy in Whitewater everyday by participating in it. She is fondly missed.

2010 Award Recipient

Photo Jim Stewart
Jim Stewart

Jim Stewart was honored in 2010 for his visionary work developing his website Whitewaterbanner.com, terms served as a member of the Whitewater Common Council, and years served on the Whitewater School Board (1981-2002). Like the League, the Whitewaterbanner was grassroots in conception and facilitates social interaction. Through his website Jim created a community bulletin board, keeping all of us informed about everything Whitewater.

Making Democracy Work Award Nomination Form