March 29th Meeting on “Women and the Law”

Our Speaker is Anabel Rodríguez-Alonso

About Her

Anabel Rodríguez-Alonso joined Schuster LLC upon graduating from the University of Puerto Rico Law School, magna cum laude, in 1996. In 2006, she was promoted to Capital Partner participating since then in the firm’s management.

Mrs. Rodriguez’ practice is mostly dedicated to advising clients in the areas of business restructuring, reasonable accommodations and EEO laws, and COVID-19 related matters. Mrs. Rodríguez actively litigates before Puerto Rico and federal courts and quasi-judicial administrative forums, such as the Anti-discrimination Unit and Negotiation and Conciliation Bureau of the Department of Labor. She has extensive experience in labor-management relations and in claims involving:

•Wrongful terminations
•Discrimination and retaliation claims
•Unfair labor practice arbitration
•Worker’s compensation
•Workforce Restructuring
•Establishing Operations
•Leaves and disability accommodation
•Government relations

Mrs. Rodríguez is a frequent speaker at seminars to professional groups and clients in all areas in labor and employment laws, especially in the interplay between the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and related Puerto Rico discrimination laws including the Working Mother’s Act and worker’s compensation. In this post-COVID-19 era, Mrs. Rodriguez has presented on a number of related topics such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the CARES Act and vaccine and testing mandates.

During law school, she was editor of the University of Puerto Rico Law Review.

March 21st General Meeting – Afghan refugees and resettlement

Program is a joint meeting with AAUW St. Louis: March 21st, 7:00pm, via Zoom. Link via email. Request the Zoom link email.

“Afghan Refugees and their Resettlement:
From the 80’s to current times”

As we see one million Ukrainians pour over borders, we should realize that many of these folks will end up in the United States.  There are lessons that we are learning with the Afghan resettlement, that we can apply and urge our governments to make life easier for the next waves of refugees.

Our speakers are Linda Lindsey from AAUW St. Louis and Susan Rodriguez of AAUW San Juan. Linda was in Pakistan while refugees were dealing with the Russians in the 80’s and is now working with a St. Louis family.  Susan served with the US Army in Afghanistan and has worked with families seeking asylum in the US.

Here’s more on both our speakers:

Linda  Lindsey is recently retired Senior Lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis and  Emerita Professor of Sociology at Maryville University. Her teaching and research are under a gender and intersectional umbrella, including courses on diversity, inequality, globalization, and health and society. She works  with the Asian Studies Development Program, a joint program of the University of Hawaii and East-West Center, assisting with institutes and field seminars in Asia for college faculty.  Fulbright and other opportunities allowed  work in  Pakistan, Japan, India, China,  Jordan, and Peru.  A longtime volunteer, she works with agencies on behalf of women’s advocacy, refugees,  health, and development. She is a past president of the Midwest Sociological Society and has been elected to Who’s Who in American Women and Who’s Who in America.

Susan Rodriguez deployed for a year to Afghanistan from 2012-2013 as a soldier attached to DLA (Defense Logistics Agency), working mostly at Bagram Air Force Base. She also worked about three months in the northern base in Mazar-i-Sharif, and two months in Jalalabad, near the Pakistani border, additionally making 2-3 day visits to other much smaller bases.  In this work, she interfaced with local Afghans who were contracted to come on the Bases to remove unwanted scrap material .

 Once she returned to the US, she was contacted by two of the contractors to help them apply to the SIV program, which is a special program though State Department for Afghans who worked for the US Government and feel threatened by the Taliban due to this arrangement. One was not able to continue the process without a letter from his employer,  but the other contractor was able to complete the process after almost five years and is now living in the States with his family.

Late last summer, she assisted some of the other contractors she had worked with to apply for an expedited version of the SIV program as they were desperately trying to leave Afghanistan.

AAUW supports Judge Jackson. Now the U.S. Senate must swiftly and unanimously confirm her.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson makes history as the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

This nomination is a long-overdue step towards a Supreme Court that better reflects the country it serves. When judges and justices come from diverse backgrounds, their decisions and rulings are more likely to reflect a variety of outlooks and perspectives. What’s more, public trust in our judiciary increases when people see jurists who look like them, understand their issues and care about their needs.

Judge Jackson’s nomination represents a historic milestone that will impact our nation for generations to come. She has stellar qualifications and a sound judicial temperament that has earned her broad, bipartisan support. Her confirmation would not only bring the first Black woman to the highest court in the land, but would also be the first time in the Supreme Court’s 233-year history that four women are serving simultaneously, achieving near gender equity on the nine-person bench.

How you can help: Advocacy can take many forms, and we appreciate all the skills AAUW members and supporters bring to their activism. In that light, we have developed a range of options for you to Make History: Confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson!

February 28th Meeting – Via Zoom

“Crossing Barriers to Achieve Dreams” Speaker Dr. Tania Rodriguez

Understanding Cancer and the treatments available to cancer patients.

What is on the horizon, will we be able to cure cancers? Dr. Rodriguez will discuss clinical studies in the area of gene therapy being conducted in Puerto Rico. She will take us through some of the newest clinical studies in cancer research and help us understand the path to approval of new drugs and treatments for use by patients in the United States. Dr. Rodriguez has worked around the world with scientist working in cutting edge studies of new therapies that address the many distinct forms of cancers found in the human body. She has experienced the laboratory, manufacturing, licensing and distribution phases of the newest therapies being developed in cancer treatment.

Dr. Rodriguez comes back to her roots as a Puerto Rican who left the Island after graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, Magna Cum Laude to attain her PHD at the Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas and do Post Doc work at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Her list of Publications is impressive documenting her work in T-cell based Immunotherapy, tumor antigen-specific studies, work in Melanoma, Leukemia, glioblastoma, and other work in the frontiers of cancer immunology. Her coauthors are international experts from many countries.


AAUW San Juan 2021 NCCWSL Fundraiser

May 15, 2021

AAUW San Juan is kicking off its NCCWSL Fundraising Campaign on May 15!  Based around the donation by Hyatt Place SJ/City Center of a 3 day/2 night stay, we’re raising funds to send Puerto Rican college women to AAUW’s 2022 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). Each year we sponsor students to attend this conference, which will develop female leadership in Puerto Rico.

Donations can be of any amount. But, until midnight on June 19, each donation of $25 will receive a chance for a 3 day/2 night stay at the Hyatt Place SJ/City Center hotel. This stay is good until 12/15/2021 and requires a reservation to save the date. This offer includes complimentary American Breakfast, WIFI throughout the hotel, and note that taxes are included. Upon your donation, you will receive an email with our thanks and your ticket number. The drawing will be on the night of June 21, 2021, at our NCCWSL program, where we will hear from the seven women we sponsored to the virtual conference this year! Please join us.

Donate using PayPal or Credit Card Now

We, and a generation of student leaders, thank you for your kind donation to keep the program going!

Mission Statement: To advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy.

Vision: Equity for all.

Values: Non-partisan. Fact-based. Integrity. Inclusion and intersectionality.

AAUW San Juan is a branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) active in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We currently number about 70 members and more than 130 friends.  We actively raise money for the San Juan Research and Projects grant, part of the more than $6 million dollars AAUW gives to women scholars annually to help them finance their education. We support national initiatives like Work Smart, and sponsor women to the National Conference of Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), as well as raise money for local community projects.

We also have a lot of fun! At the moment on Zoom we are hosting numerous interest groups, such as our bookclub, film group, Great Decisions activity, monthly Sip ‘n Chat sessions on topics of the day, and from September to May we host a 7:15 pm program with female speakers, on topics of interest to our members and the public. We also publish a monthly newsletter with information on national and branch activities, as well as articles of interest.

In person, we have bi-monthly walking groups in the San Juan area, and occasional walking tours in OSJ (all activities require masks). Typically, we also have parties and social events for members and their friends and families, but for the moment those are on hold.

We believe in equity for women – in all spheres of life – and we work toward achieving that through research, education, advocacy and philanthropy.  Join us! Send us an email at: for more information or with a request to get our newsletter.


Our Speakers Series on Zoom

May 24, 2021

New Beginnings with Plant-Based Desserts

Laura Pérez, graduate of our local Academia Maria Reina and the founder of Mucho Gusto, speaks about her journey as an entrepreneur: raised in PR, traveling the world, and returning to raise her children and begin a business. Her goal is that plant-based desserts will make a positive impact on the food scene in PR, and through collaborating with local food artisans and farmers, she can be part of the rise and growth of the plant-based movement in Puerto Rico.


April 26, 2021

What Ancient DNA Says About Puerto Rico’s History

Dr. Nieves-Colón, an anthropological geneticist, and currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, speaks about her research into the threads of Taíno genetic material in the present day Puerto Rican population. Able to explain complicated concepts with ease, she sheds light on the juxtaposition of the myth of Taíno extinction colliding with a sense of national pride in Taíno culture on the island, where people still consider themselves Taíno today.

February 22, 2021

Habitat for Humanity PR: Women Build

Amanda Silva, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Puerto Rico, explains what Habitat is doing to help with the housing shortage on the island. She highlights the Women Build program, which is a construction skills and jobs opportunity for women in Puerto Rico. It is an inspiring story of women getting the training to tap into this rapidly-growing sector.

January 25, 2021

The Many Transformations of Jan D’Esopo

Added by @alycehenson_photography Instagram post When I think of Jan D' Esopo, I think of a vibrant women that lives life to the fullest on her terms. She's the owner of theArtist, gallery owner, patron of the arts through the Puerto Rico Charitable Trust for Education of Young Musicians, keeper of The Gallery Inn in a 17th century building in OSJ, owner of the fabulous Cannon Club – Steinway Piano Bar, creator of a music series and a podcast during the pandemic and much more, Jan D’Esopo has reinvented herself over and over again, adding facets to an impressive and inspiring life. Join us for an interview of this interesting woman who has redefined herself in her adopted home of San Juan.


November 23, 2020

Oversight or Censoring of Puerto Rican Art?

Melissa M. Ramos Borges is a contemporary Puerto Rican art historian, and has curated and co-curated exhibitions in various institutions in her native Puerto Rico. She seeks to correct misconceptions regarding the experimental art produced on the island by rescuing and unveiling a large -but mostly unexamined- body of work created by a group of avant-garde Puerto Rican artists. Although these artists addressed local issues and reacted to shared social contexts, local colleagues considered them transgressors and questioned their “Puerto Ricanness” (puertorriqueñidad) which, she argues, contributed to posteriori-censoring by art historians.

October 26, 2020

How Women in Puerto Rico Obtained the Vote

SUNY Brockport professor and author, Dr. Anne Macpherson, and retired University of Sagrado Corazón professor and author Dra. Maria de Fátima Barceló Miller gave us an understanding of the political actions, many by women, that led to women achieving universal suffrage in Puerto Rico in 1935. Stories of accomplished Puerto Rican women who attempted to demonstrate gender parity included Milagros Benet de Mewton, Ana Roqué, Mercedes Solá, Dra. Martha Robert Besosa among many others.



September 21, 2020

Changes in Inheritance Laws in Puerto Rico that You Need to Know About

UPR Law School professor, Ana Cristina Gómez Pérez, currently teaches a course which is part of a series on the most significant legal changes to the Civil Code of Puerto Rico (Law 55-2020). Having identified and analyzed the most important changes in the area of inheritance law, she will inform us what is on the books today, giving us all a better idea of the road ahead. This is very complicated material!

Final presentation[15405] rev JJA


August 24, 2020

Feminist & Independent Journalism in a Recovering Puerto Rico

Journalist and educator, Cristina del Mar Quiles has worked for the past 10 years in print, radio, multimedia and independently as a reporter, editor and producer for newspapers such as Primera Hora, El Nuevo Día, the Inter News Service news agency, the Center of Investigative Journalism of Puerto Rico, and more. She is an integral part of the journalistic project Todas ( born of the desire to see issues that directly affect women reflected in the Puerto Rican press. Todas is dedicated to highlighting the individual and collective struggles of women in the fields of culture, entertainment, politics, economics and social management, and they critically review the information that affects women’s lives in all these areas, recognizing oppression based on gender, race, and social class in order to create a more equitable society.


July 27, 2020

Using Power & Influence in Washington to Increase Equity in Puerto Rico

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Gretchen Sierra-Zorita brings a bicultural perspective and sensitivity to her work. Currently, she leads Polivox787, a bilingual and bicultural public affairs and communications practice that offers strategic advice on government policy and relations, coalition building and advocacy and media engagement. Her career as a federal government official, advocate, activist, writer and public speaker has made her a respected opinion leader, sought out for her non-partisan insight and knowledge on the fiscal and humanitarian crisis affecting the island of Puerto Rico.

For audio of this presentation, go to:

June 29, 2020

Resilience, Equitable Development, and Climate Vulnerability in Puerto Rico

Speaking five languages and a graduate of UPR and the London School of Economics, Alejandra Castrodad-Rodríguez has an interdisciplinary background, with over 15 years of experience in regional and local economic development, strategic planning and resilience. Today, Alejandra leads multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral teams in strategic planning efforts aimed at reducing inequity and exposure to risk. Her most recent projects range from disaster risk reduction (OXFAM) to renewable energy (RPPR-RMI) and low-income housing. She was the Program Director of Resilient Power PR, a group that partners with community groups to deliver alternative-power structures to providers of services to the most vulnerable.

Read more about how PR Resilient’s work began, after Maria, in the article HERE.

To listen to Alejandra’s presentation, click

Community Projects

March 4 and 9, 2020

On these days we delivered collections of almost 100 new English and Spanish books, donated by AAUWPR to two libraries: Biblioteca Municipal Emilio Díaz Valcárcel  in Trujillo Alto and the Biblioteca Electrónica Dr. Carlos Hernández in Carolina. Named “Inspiring Women Collection” it included fiction and nonfiction books for ages 5-18, all with stories of women and girls who overcame obstacles to improve our world today.








 Click to see more activities from this year, or go to Branch Activities in the menu above for more.

RYLA Participant 2020

Read about the experience of the student AAUW PR sponsored to attend the Rotary Young Leader Award weekend of leadership activities in western Puerto Rico in February 2020. You’ll find it here, in our Community Projects section, under RYLA 2020.

Work Smart – Pay Equity Now!

AAUW of Puerto Rico and our state officers have embarked upon a campaign to get 40k women in Puerto Rico to take the free, online Work Smart seminar. When national statistics show that Latinas make 54 cents for every dollar paid to a man, we know we have lots of work to do. Though learning to negotiate for better pay, the purpose of the seminar, is not the whole answer to closing the pay gap, it is an empowerment tool that all women can use.

Our campaign dovetails with the National campaign and we will work for those 40K to take the seminar over the next 5 years. It is an ambitious goal! We know!

Click here to read more about the first phase of our project.

Welcome to 2019-2020

Welcome to the 2019-2020 year at the San Juan branch of AAUW!

AAUW has a long and important history in the mainland and on this island, with many of our branch members breaking ground for women in PR. With the goals of education and training, economic security, and leadership for women and girls, we know there is more work to be done, and look forward to the challenges and rewards the future may bring. We continue to support national initiatives towards achieving pay equity, equal access to education, and offering skills training that can increase leadership roles for women.

This year in San Juan, we’ve prioritized projects focusing on assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence (and the prevention of such violence), college women’s leadership training, and projects that continue or enhance education for girls and women in PR. If these are areas of interest to you, consider joining us on one of our projects. There are openings on various committees, and several projects are waiting for an interested member to lead. Some projects still need funding, while others are funded and ready for action. If you have ideas for new projects, we would be excited to hear from you! Please contact us with suggestions, or if you’d like to know more details.

Looking forward, we intend to grow our membership, so we can be active in more segments of our community. For those looking to join AAUW, please use the Become A Member! link on our Home Page to find out how you can become a member. You can also email queries to For those who are already members, please reach out to people who haven’t heard of us, but are looking to connect with others interested in gender equity and particularly in making a difference in Puerto Rico. Partners, friends, daughters, granddaughters, colleagues, people in your building, new neighbors, or recent arrivals to the island are all very welcome to join us in our work, our programs/lecture series, and of course our social events (museum visits, bookclub, film group, gourmet club, etc.). We invite everyone to attend our events, get to know us, and be a part of our work on behalf of women and girls.

In sisterhood,
Dagmar Boenert & Sandy Novo
Co-Presidents of AAUW-San Juan
Follow us on FB @ Puerto Rico AAUW

Celebrating the 45TH year of AAUW Puerto Rico Branch (2017-2018) despite Hurricane Maria

The AAUW year began, as always, with a beach party in August.  We reconnected with members and established new friends.

As we prepared for our first general meeting in September, Hurricane Irma approached.  The meeting was postponed until October.  Then the unthinkable happened! Hurricane Maria hit the island!  Our meeting, our lives, our homes, our island were changed overnight.  Many members sought refuge off the island. We used our email and website to connect with everyone who had access to the internet, to find out where people were and how they came through the storm.  All the responses of our members were published “blog” fashion on our website. (Right here in fact!)

The AAUW National office staff in Washington, D.C. wanted to do something for Puerto Rico and we connected them with Casa Julia de Burgos, (a shelter for women subjected to domestic abuse) in San Juan.  They designated Casa Julia as their holiday charity, sending four large boxes of relief supplies and money.  The gratitude and pride felt by local members delivering the aid was overwhelming.  The generosity of the AAUW National staff truly made a difference in Puerto Rico.

As electrical power was slowly being restored to members in San Juan, we decided to plan a December Holiday Party.  Many of our members were returning to their homes.  The party, held during daylight hours, provided a time to reflect, share, and define our new normal.  Despite the difficult times, we raised money for girls in PR.

Membership published the branch directory, finding new avenues in order to have them available by the Party.  Receiving the directory is always a highlight for many members as it connects the branch.

  Hogares Rafaela Ybarra, a home for abused girls in San Juan, was the recipient of our holiday fundraising.  That relationship led to two additional community service activities, a pizza and craft party and a STEM project about electrical circuits.  It was amazing to see the girls making circuit boards and illuminating colored light bulbs. The girls, as well as our AAUW members, learned a timely lesson about electricity!

February’s general meeting about employment law as it related to the “Me Too Movement” was inspiring as we reviewed the effect of sexual harassment on our lives. The new venue at the Conservatory of Music was wonderful.

Our March luncheon celebrated the accomplishments of two women in PR.  Our luncheon venue also served as a fundraiser for our branch.

The May program recognized the need to celebrate relief workers.  Realizing our island is still in recovery, Project Mariposa shared their techniques to reduce the stress on community relief workers.

As services in our island improved, AAUW interest groups began in earnest.  The Book Group continued with its monthly meetings and the Movie Group with the weekly movie; Gourmet hosted a party and distributed the menu book, initiating the dinners; Great Decisions organized and held eight interesting sessions on foreign policy.

The NCCSWL committee awarded branch scholarships to three young Puerto Rican women to attend the 3-day leadership conference (AAUW National Conference of Collegiate Women Student Leaders) in Washington, DC. Again, despite Maria, we maintained our now 6-year streak with NCCWSL attendees. Do not miss the chance to meet these amazing young women at our September meeting!

The AAUW Puerto Board worked diligently to promote the branch and its activities during the year despite the limited communication services.  The group continues to plan for the next year and beyond, as it looks forward to another great year. I encourage you all to join our extremely dedicated leaders on the branch board. I, especially, praise and thank them for their commitment. Working with them is a honor.

As the review of this last year notes, AAUW branch celebrated our 45th year in a very unique and memorable fashion.  Every member has had a role in making our branch great and despite our own personal hardships.   None of our achievements this past year would have been possible without you, our great members.   AAUW Puerto Rico thanks all of you for a wonderful year.   We have a lot to celebrate. Now, let’s look forward to next year.

Linda Garayalde,President

AAUW San Juan Branch

Hogares Rafaela Ybarra – January 19, 2018

Treasure boxes made by the girls

On Friday, January 19, the girls of Hogares Rafaela Ybarra and several AAUW Puerto Rico members enjoyed an afternoon of crafts and pizza.  After a small snack, the girls began making treasure boxes.  Each girl had the opportunity to create a unique box from her imagination.  Everyone enjoyed the pizza dinner. It was so much fun interacting with the girls and having them laugh with us.

AAUW would like to thank member Donna Sabater who organized this activity, and the other members who participated and made it possible.  If you would like to be involved in this initiative, please contact AAUW.

Treasure boxes in progress

Marilyn caught in surprise

Dagmar at Rafaela Ybarra

A treasure box

Marilyn serving Pizza

Marilyn and Marilyn at Hogares Rafaela Ybarra

Making a treasure box

Stories from Maria – Loretta Cordova

Trust/hope/pray all is well.

Window blew and floor flooded in our apt on 17th floor, is still uninhabitable. After a month with our son in Guaynabo, we came to Virginia, staying with family here. Will later be going to Tulsa for awhile. Then, as nomads (I AM part Osage Indian) we seek shelter here and there, will return to San Juan with the light.
I feel proud of the spirit Puerto Ricans have shown in adversity.
Stacey and I will begin work at YWCA, God willing. And, tennis and golf of course as a great treat!
Best to all,
Loretta Phelps de Cordova

Stories from Maria – Joan Montalvo

From a former member:

Most Saturdays my daughter and I take a short walk in the city to an adorable coffee shop. The storm suspended that. Today she got dressed and said: Mommy, its Saturday, lets’ go for muffins. I tried to avoid details as to why the shop (and other places) is closed for the third week due to lack of electricity and water, but after a 5th “why?” I realized that a natural disaster and the aftermath could happen anywhere at any time. This should be used to teach some valuable life lessons to our children who are constantly shielded from life by our modern parenting. We try to fix everything, fight lines for the best toy, numb them with electronics and give them constant and immediate attention (and before anyone protests, I am including myself and make sure you go into deep thought – you will see my point.) My kids have missed two weeks of school, but they have learned how to collect rain water for showers, wash clothes by hand, reduce garbage and waste so we don’t contaminate the streets, avoid illness caused by dirty water, help neighbors, share resources, share your home with family, wait in lines for gas/food, how to ditch the clean office attire for a back pack and jeans to help clean your damaged workplace even through the weekends – the value of hard work and moving out of your comfort zone. They are learning that even in dire circumstances, you don’t sit and wait for rescue. If you are able, you get moving to survive and restore – think outside the box. Most of all, I want the kids to see that we can say we were “blessed” but in no way we should think that we were more deserving than others to be able to keep our roof and windows. A small shift in angle or increase in wind speed or a few more inches of rain and the story may have been different. Therefore, we have to have empathy and help others. If we keep moving, working and reinventing we will hopefully be able to get back to those city walks and muffins sooner rather than later and give others the opportunity to do the same.

Stories from Maria – Update from Donna

Hi I’m up at 3 in the morning to say hello. I have signal at this time. The Sabater’s are strong and will survive Maria. No lights but water is flowing.  Many communities are working together to help those who have lost all. The true PR spirit is seen in so many places. I’m working with a home for boys and in a volunteer food distribution program. This is a life changing event. Pray for PR

Stories from Maria – Sharon McDowell

Mike and I experienced the trifecta of hurricanes – Harvey in Houston, Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico! We were in Houston, unfortunately, for the funeral of our son-in-law’s sister, who passed away unexpectedly just before her 46th birthday. The day Harvey made landfall we were actually traveling to the Austin area for the burial, so only encountered minor winds and rain. Our daughter’s neighborhood in Pearland did not flood and her home was untouched, but several friends’ homes were flooded – one declared a total loss as well as their vehicles. We could not get back to Houston as all access roads were flooded, but were finally able to fly back to San Juan from Austin via Dallas.-

The force of Maria was terrifying. We had some flooding and water damage due to 6 inches of water sitting on our roof. Lost some roof tiles and ac compressors flipped over, but no serious structural damage – not even one window broken! All of the beautiful big trees bordering our property gone, so sad.
As for everyone, the first week after was quite challenging – no power, water, gas, diesel, cash withdrawal. It was amazing to meet never-before-seen neighbors who pitched in to clear street and property fronts. We were among the lucky few to have water return after about a week, and little by little bought enough diesel to run generator each night for frig and one ac to sleep. Much better off than most!
After several cancellations, I was able to fly out on SW to Orlando (then on to Houston) on Thurs, Oct 5th. When we deboarded in Orlando, everyone in the terminal applauded, and there were Spanish-speaking employees directing passengers to a welcome center, offering housing and supplies to those who needed. Every business we visit in Houston is donating portions of sales to Harvey victims – hope that occurs in PR also.
Mike is staying in PR, attending to our home and rental properties. I will probably stay in Houston until power returns. My thoughts are with all those still struggling to recover from Maria, and those dealing with the new realities of daily life on our once beautiful island. AAUW San Juan needs to be part of the recovery – let me know if anything I can do.

Stories from Maria – Susan Rodriguez

From Facebook Sept . 28.

Still recovering from Maria! So far no power, no water, no signal, but at least the nights are very cool and comfortable for sleeping. Little by little we will get back to normal, but power not likely for months. Very different way of life!!! Almost back to work full time, so got the opportunity to check FB. Carlo posted some great pics, and I’m sure the news has shown more coverage than I’ve seen.

Stories from Maria – Facebook notes

From Betsy Parker: Sept 24.

I have not had news of many members and friends. Ladies and gentlemen, could we all post here notices about who is in PR and who is not. Who is safe and who we haven’t heard from… for my part, I can tell you that Gerry L. Cumpiano VillamorNayda Cumpiano and I are fine.

We have spoken to Sylvia Locher and she and John are okay.

Joanne Marti is in St. Louis, but her son and husband are here and fine.

Jody Valdes is off island, so is Max.

Jose Perez and Kathy are off Island.

Galina Elisman Borschow is off island with her family.

Raquel Holcman Astrachan is off island.

Ellen Seidman and Gregory Kaufman are okay.

Linda Garayalde and Glenn are ok. Now it’s your turn…please fill us in!


Lillian Rico Luis and Lillian Rico are off Island in Houston Texas. Praying for some sort of normalcy to come back to our Island.

Pattersons and Schneider’s are ok. Hammel’s are ok. Barretos also.

Heidi Cazes-Sevilla Caroll Costas and Patricia Schaefer are fine

Stories from Maria – Jean Cornelius

Greetings from New Jersey. I plan to return to Puerto Rico as soon as my Condo power and water issues are resolved. PREPA power goes in and out..Our Generator went Kaput during the storm…the broken part is (supposedly) on its way from England!!….
This week the main water pipe to the Condo broke….just too much happening at once.
It is heartbreaking to see the damage Maria has done to our beautiful Island….total devastation is some areas and so many people have lost everything..We have to pray our power Grids are replaced soon. I feel for everyone who is there and has to endure this unthinkable situation.
Jean Cornelius

Stories from Maria – Martha Wilson

This is Martha Wilson and I am in Massachusetts right now.  At the present time I have a ticket to return to Puerto Rico on November 13.  Next weekend Mary Clinton and Evey Acosta will be at my house in Massachusetts along with Mae Timer.

If anyone needs a place to stay here I have room in some of my properties as my season here is coming to an end.

There are many people here that want to help. Is there anything at all that we can send along to you?

Martha Wilson

Stories from Maria – Jody Valdes

Hi everyone,
I was lucky enough to leave on one of the last flights out before they shut the airport down and took the pets with me.  Max was in Bogota, Columbia when we realized how bad María would be and I got one of the last seats out and am grateful.
Max returned to SJ and is working with the administration on a village that was “adopted” by the Orchestra to get supplies and help the people there.  Also working on what the next steps are for the season, cancellations, etc.
He went back with suitcases of batteries, water purifiers, lanterns, powdered milk and other supplies we knew were needed.  I’m sending a small box of more supplies this week as a test.  If it arrives to our house I’ll know I can send more to help neighbors, musicians, and anyone else.
If power isn’t restored I still plan to come back in a couple of weeks to be with Max, but not sure for how long, all depends on the situation I guess.
Our Synagogue has major damage and we have many members who are in terrible conditions, so trying to help there too.
Please keep me updated on everyone…and I send my love to all,

Stories from Maria – Kathy Perez

I was so happy to get the update on our members after the hurricane, and to hear stories like Donna Sabater’s of helping the needy in a direct way.  José and I left Puerto Rico for our son’s home in Connecticut five days after Hurricane Irma. Since Jose’s medical condition requires refrigerated medicines, we thought we should leave before the Big One. We missed Maria.  A neighbor’s mango tree took down a fence, otherwise our home is intact.
The following week, my son Pau left with his family for Miami and is working out of a Banco Popular office there for the time being.  Carlos’ boss here at Medtech told him and two others to use their BJ credit cards to buy $27,000 worth of necessities for their employees in Ponce.  After a fraud-alert delay at BJ’s, they were able to buy the supplies and arrange for the corporate jet to fly them to PR.  This whole experience has given me an appreciation for the trauma that all refugees must feel, not to mention the suffering of those left behind.

Stories from Maria – Joan McMurray

George and Joan survived the storms from their Guaynabo home–with help from island Friends and “hijos” escaped three days ago and are presently with recovering with their children in California. The storm was a monster intent upon destroying everything in its path. Our “poured” concrete house still stands but the garden trees and plants vanished into the air. PLEASE stay in contact. We have lost all means of contact

(written Sept 29.)

Stories from Maria – Joanne Marti

Hi All,

I missed the storm, arriving in St. Louis after Irma, for a previously planned family trip.  As Maria approached, Luis and son Weston, went back to Puerto Rico.  It is awful to see the pictures and hear the stories  of all my friends.

I am staying in St. Louis with my daughter, and intend to remain until a much later date.  Hugs to all of you, and keep your notes coming to  I am posting them as soon as I can.  Thanks to Betsy Parker for the tutoring on blog posts!


Stories from Maria – Kim Churches, CEO AAUW

Dear Linda,


We at AAUW are deeply saddened by the devastation caused by hurricane Maria. While we have been closely monitoring the rescue and aid efforts, we are reaching out to our AAUW members, supporters, and salary negotiation facilitators to share that you are in our thoughts. If there is something you need from us, please let me know. You are such a valuable part of our community, and we want to be sure you and your loved ones are safe.


Please keep in touch with us at




Kim Churches

Chief Executive Officer


Stories from Maria – Patricia Schneider

We were lucky. Although located on the beach, only problem was lots of water seeped in every crack between the windows and frames. Little cracks – copious water on the floors. Nothing broken. We share the sixth floor with Hallee and Russ Patterson. They also had good luck.
However, apartment on the Tenth floor blew out sucking furniture to the street and beyond.
This is major hurricane number three for us. We had a window break in Georges. Go figure.

Stories from Maria – Débora Ferdman

I am in New York since September 12 for medical checkups. My apartment in Condado is in ruins. The bedroom windows flew away and there is no bedroom left, also a window in the family room, water everywhere.
Thinking of all the damage people suffered I am the lucky one.
I would like to return as soon as possible.
Greeting to all.

Stories from Maria – Donna Sabater

Family fine. Lost some patio roofs no light but water is good. Working with CASA in Aguas Buenas. They have no lights lost doors to bottom part of project with their supplies and outbuildings used for bikes. We are helping with canned food packaged goods Clorox and diesel for their generator. We are bringing in solar lights for the boys. Nights are hard. Any help would be appreciated. I’m also going to 3 C today to see is I can buy rolls of plastic. There is a group of women going into the mts each day finding a family without a roof and giving food and water. I hope they can use the plastic temporarily.  Lots of people tying to help—- the task is huge

Stories from Maria – Patricia Wehrs

Greetings from Washington State,

I am off the island and was gone before hurricane Irma. I am aware of much damage to the island and the needs of my neighbors. I have been sending generators, flash lights, batteries, candles and food to friends and family on the island.

I feel very blessed to have the hurricanes hit in my absence, yet, feeling guilty for not being there to help out.

Hoping to return when the power is back on in Luquillo and when my presence will not be a hindrance to those unable to leave Puerto Rio.

Thank you for this inquiry, I pray you find all our AAUW members in safety and good health.


Patti Wehrs

Stories from Maria – Kathy Jones

Paul (Cleary) and I (Kathy Jones) are ok–house intact and grateful!
Conservatory and Symphony are waiting for water and light to return to resume work.
I will be receiving some donations from off-island to be used to help people in need here.  Please let me know if you know of students and/or teachers in need (especially for basics like food and water.)
Hope all of you wonderful AAUW members are ok.
Always, Kathy

Stories from Maria – Dagmar Boenert

Great to hear from you. I hope that you are all fine, without too many damages!

I m still in Germany. I can only communicate by WhatsApp or gmail as my Portoricain phone isn’t connected.
My flight back has been cancelled. So I booked on October 14th, hoping that Condor will fly.
Philippe is ok.
Our house too, but like every one, no water, no light, rarely internet and difficulty to get gas.
Our new neighbors are great. real solidarity.
Philippe’s factory has been producing since Monday after the hurrican,
Cigars are not really necessary right now but his employees are glad to have work in Cayey.
I don’t know if you got the message from Alex Waterman, she went to San Diego on Wednesday.
Is there anything I could bring from Germany?
It might be possible to take extra suitcases or boxes by “contribute” Condor service.
Please let me know if I can do anything.
Looking forward seeing you and volunteering once back in PR
Take care !

Stories from Maria – Russ and Hallee Patterson

We are in Condado, lucky to have weathered Marie in a building with minimal damage. We have a generator that is on a rationed schedule for a hot meal at dinner time. We have had water since the storm. We are extremely lucky in our situation.

We are leaving tomorrow (Friday)  going to Chicago. Hope to return mid November.

We are going to use our time in Chicago getting hold of state and federal legislators and officials to inform them of the situation in Puerto Rico. We will try to educate our friends, former work colleagues about the American citizens suffering due to the poor response of our federal government.

Please let us know of anything we can do to help.

Russ and Hallee Patterson

Stories from Maria – Alex Waterman

I just arrived in San Diego a few hours ago and since I finally have internet I saw this email! I was planning to call Linda tomorrow but wasn’t sure she’d get any email, so this is a great way to communicate. What actions do we need to take for the scheduled speaker? Dagmar’s flight was canceled and she’ll now arrive on the 14th. Please let me know how to communicate with Linda. I have internet !! Waahooo
Alex Waterman

Stories from Maria – Evelyn Acosta

Update for Evey Acosta:
I left PR on August 24 for what was supposed to have been a five week trip taking in New York City and Long Island; Seattle, Washington; Reno, Nevada and Bethesda, Maryland. Obviously, I did not make it back to PR on September 25 as had been originally scheduled. I am blessed and have had many places to stay made available to me as well as the use of a friend’s car for as long as I need. I plan to stay in the north eastern US bouncing around until it makes sense to go back to Puerto Rico. That means I will go back once there is electricity, running water, access to food and gasoline, etc. and the way things look now, that may still be a few months off. I trust my AAUW sisters are safe and doing well whether in PR or elsewhere. Be safe, everyone!

Stories from Maria – Aurora Otero-Negrón

Hi. I am not in PR, but all my family is. They are fine, but they don’t have power and are running low on supplies. They are in el Caño Martín Peña. I hope others are fine. Thanks for reaching out.
Aurora Otero-Negrón
Graduate Student
Health Policy and Administration
College of Health and Human Development
Pennsylvania State University

Stories from Maria – Mary Clinton

I left PR last Wednesday on South West – the BEST airline in the sky!!  We were on standby but their motto was “we are here, we will get you there” on line from 6AM until 1PM when we boarded the plane.  The captain announced we were the first passengers and the plane would not leave until full.  On boarding we were given unlimited iced water, a bag was on each seat with a sandwich, an  apple, a variety of cookies and  incidentals.  Passengers started boarding, almost all had pets – cats, dogs, some in cages, some just held in arms – no limit to the number of animals.  No baggage weighed.   We left PR at 3:00..

We were flown to Orlando FOR NOTHING!!! NO CHARGE!!  and once in Orlando, we were flown to any point in the US for nothing!  I went to Miami, my friends to Houston.  Service was impeccable – amazing thing – all those animals, lots of children – during the flight, NO noise – no commotion – people were exhausted, most slept but on arrival a real cheer for the entire crew.  Whoever made the decision to have their flights free and comforting deserves a grand award.  The entire SJ based crew and ground employees comforted the passengers and were giving updates on the status  of the flights.

The airport was a disaster – no restaurants open, no money available, limited phone service, grumpy people frustrated by conditions, but the shining star was South West.  Fly that airline – they deserve support from everyone!

Stories from Maria – Carola Murray

Just to let you know that two of our flights to PR from Germany were cancelled. So we have retreated to England where we can stay comfortably. We now have a flight back in November, hoping that by then things have improved. Our daughter Julia left with the children to New Jersey to stay with our son there.
We have followed the hurricane and its destruction as well as all the latest news via el nuevo dia, ultima hora. The visit of Pres. Trump and what he said left us in shock!
I am wondering what to do about the Great Decisions Program??? Should I order books???
Let me know

Stories from Maria – Lillian Rico

Lillian and Luis are fine. We left the island on Sept 15th for Houston TX  after Irma and were not in PR for Maria. Thank God for help from our good neighbors and friends nothing happened our house in Guaynabo except we lost lots of trees and plants. As for our condominium in Rincón the building was destroyed. No one has access to the apartments right now. We are safe and praying that everyone will continue to be safe.

Reminder to Vote!

In the last US election, we saw first hand how important it is to vote.  Regardless of your political affiliation here in Puerto Rico, we encourage you to go and make your voice heard.

2017 Political Status Referendum

A referendum on the political status of Puerto Rico will be held in Puerto Rico on June 11, 2017.  Unlike the previous four referendums, the 2017 plebiscite will offer only two options:

Statehood or Independence/Free Association.

This is a very important vote, so please mark your calendars to be physically present in Puerto Rico to vote.

To vote, you must be registered to vote in Puerto Rico.  The last day to register to vote in the 2017  plebiscite is APRIL 28, 2017.  The location site for registration is determined by residency.  Please google Junta de Inscripcion Permanente for the information.  Remember, most locations close 12-1 for lunch.
The telephone for the Comision Estatal de Elecciones is 787-777-8682 ext. 2361 or 2368.

AAUW Puerto Rico Branch Sponsorship for NCCWSL 2017

The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) is around the corner and AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. wants to sponsor young women from Puerto Rico to attend this national conference, to be held on May 31 – June 3, 2017, at the University of Maryland–College Park.

This conference offers young women leaders a chance to learn new skills and to broaden their networks with peers from around the country.

To be eligible for our sponsorship, a candidate must be a female student, enrolled in a university or college in Puerto Rico, have demonstrated leadership potential, be fluent in English and be willing to attend all parts of the conference. AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. will pay for all the expenses related to the attendance to the conference, including: registration, transportation, housing, and meals.

To apply, candidates will fill out the NCCWSL Sponsorship application and submit it to AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. A committee of branch members will read the applications and candidates will be invited to a face-to-face interview, to take place on the week of April 3rd, 2017. Following the interviews, up to three candidates will be selected. The winners will be invited to our Annual Fundraiser Dinner: Perfect Pairings, which will be held on April TBD, 2017.

AAUW-Puerton Rico, Inc. will make all the registration, air travel and housing arrangements. The sponsored students will make their own arrangements for ground transportation and meals. Sponsored students will be responsible for any personal expenses. In addition to attending the conference in its entirety, sponsored students will be asked to prepare a short presentation about their experiences at the conference, to share with AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. members.

The application deadline is March 15, 2017

To apply for the Sponsorship, click here 

If you have questions (any questions!), please email us to  We will contact you via email or phone call, whichever is the best option for you.

Members, help us spread the word !

AAUW Reacts to the Election Result

AAUW is a non-partisan organization and so official reaction to the election focuses on our mission and our issues and how we will continue to advocate in Washington, DC for those priorities.  All members received an email outline the position AAUW will take.  Here is a link so that you can read yourself.  We appreciate your comments.

AAUW Reacts to the Election 2016

Even as I write this, new posts to the AAUW blog have followed.  (You can see the latest below in the RSS Feed)

Perfect Pairings VII – Fundraising Dinner

We had a very successful fundraiser on April 17th!  More details and photos will be posted on the special events page when we have everything ready…Preliminary results indicate that we will have raised nearly $12,000!  If you would like to push us over that number, the link to donate online is still active.  Just click here.

March Women Awards Luncheon – March 8,2016

All are welcome to attend – Not restricted to members of AAUW Puerto Rico

March Women Awards Luncheon

In honor of Women’s History Month and the accomplishments of local young women, you are invited to an awards luncheon, sponsored by AAUW Puerto Rico and the Rotary Club of San Juan.
Tuesday  March 8, 2016

12:00 pm*

 AFDA Club, 3 Cervantes Street

Condado, San Juan

In our program, we will recognize four special members of our local community. Please come and celebrate Women’s History Month with AAUW!


*Registration begins at 11:30am.  Lunch and the program will begin at 12:00 noon. Each of the honorees will discuss her work, her goals, and her advice for other women. Please come with a friend or two to this amazing meeting! Cost: $25.00  per person. (Free parking, cash bar available)

To Reserve

 Please send your check to AAUW, c/o Nayda Cumpiano, 60 Washington St, Apt 1102, San Juan, PR 00907

AAUW Puerto Rico Branch Sponsorship for NCCWSL 2016

The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) is around the corner and AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. wants to sponsor one or two young women from Puerto Rico to attend this national conference, to be held on June 2-4, 2016, at the University of Maryland–College Park.

This conference offers young women leaders a chance to learn new skills and to broaden their networks with peers from around the country.

To be eligible for our sponsorship, a candidate must be a female student, enrolled in a university or college in Puerto Rico, have demonstrated leadership potential, be fluent in English and be willing to attend all parts of the conference. AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. will pay for all the expenses related to the attendance to the conference, including: registration, transportation, housing, and meals.

To apply, candidates will fill out the NCCWSL Sponsorship application and submit it to AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. A committee of branch members will read the applications and candidates will be invited to a face-to-face interview, to take place on April 6-7, 2016. Following the interviews, up to two candidates will be selected. The winners will be invited to our Annual Fundraiser Dinner: Perfect Pairings, which will be held on April 17, 2016.

AAUW-Puerton Rico, Inc. will make all the registration, air travel and housing arrangements. The sponsored students will make their own arrangements for ground transportation and meals. Sponsored students will be responsible for any personal expenses. In addition to attending the conference in its entirety, sponsored students will be asked to prepare a short presentation about their experiences at the conference, to share with AAUW-Puerto Rico, Inc. members.

The application deadline is March 15, 2016

To apply for the Sponsorship, click here 

If you have questions (any questions!), please email us to  We will contact you via email or phone call, whichever is the best option for you.

Members, help us spread the word !

Local Women in Science, Business, Education and the Arts Honored by AAUW Puerto Rico

AAUW Puerto Rico recognized four exceptional women on Friday, March 27 at their annual Leadership and Service Awards Luncheon at the AFDA Club in San Juan focusing on Science, Education, the Arts and Business. The luncheon is held every March during Women’s History Month.


Honoree Sarai Santiago Rodríguez, educator

Sarai Santiago Rodríguez was recognized for her contributions to the field of education. Founder and Director of Explora Clínica Integral, she is the only provider of services to children with autism using the Teacch method. Santiago told our audience that her future plans are to continue to serve the needs of children with autism, and to develop programs for young adults on the spectrum, a populations not currently being served.

Tara Rodríguez Besosa was recognized for her

Honoree Tara Rodríguez Besosa, entrepreneur

Honoree Tara Rodríguez Besosa, entrepreneur

entrepreneurial accomplishments. Rodríguez is the co-founder and co-director of Departamento de la Comida focused on local organic produce and artisanal food products. Looking forward Tara recently turned half of El Departamento de la Comida into a non-profit organization that develops markets for local, sustainable farmers and serves consumers looking to eat better, buy better, and support the local economy.


maria del carmen

Honoree María del Carmen Gil, promoter of the arts

María del Carmen Gil, former Chancellor of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music from 1998 – 2012, and currently founder and director of the Fundación para Música y País, a foundation dedicated to making music education accessible for all children at a time when these programs are being cut from both public and private schools. Gil was recognized for her contributions to the arts in Puerto Rico.


Dra. Melween Martínez, scientist

Melween I. Martinez, a Professor at the University of Puerto Rico – Medical Sciences Campus and the first female Director of the Caribbean Primate Research Center and the Animal Resources Center. Recognized for her contributions to science, Dra. Martínez reminisced about the challenges she faced as a woman in a field dominated by men, and discussed her plans to continue her important research into stroke and dengue fever.

AAUW San Juan is a branch of the national AAUW, active in Puerto Rico for over 50 years. The mission of AAUW is to promote equity for women and girls through research, education, advocacy and philanthropy. Nationally AAUW supports fellowships for women pursuing advanced degrees and grants to community organizations with projects addressing equity for women and girls; lobbies the US federal government on issues affecting women and girls, and sponsors research into women’s issues covering topics like pay equity, sexual harassment, and women in STEM. Locally, AAUW Puerto Rico is involved in a writing workshop project for survivors of domestic violence; sponsorship of college women to attend the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders; and their annual Leadership and Service Awards to raise the visibility of women in the community.

From left to right:  Elizabeth Parker, AAUW Puerto Rico Co-President, Tara Rodriguez, Maria del Carmen Gil, Dra. Melween Martínez, Sarai Santiago, Juanita Morris, AAUW Awards Luncheon chairperson.

From left to right: Elizabeth Parker, AAUW Puerto Rico Co-President, Tara Rodriguez, Maria del Carmen Gil, Dra. Melween Martínez, Sarai Santiago, Juanita Morris, AAUW Awards Luncheon chairperson.

For more pictures of this event, please click here.


Now Accepting NCCWSL Sponsorship Applications

(The 2015 NCCWSL application due date has passed. Stay tuned for next year’s application dates!)

The AAUW San Juan is proud to be offering a sponsorship (or two) to the National Conference of Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL and pronounced “nick-whistle”!) for May 28-30, 2015. In 2014, we were able to sponsor 3 young women from Puerto Rico and the result was outstanding, both for the Branch members who sponsored and the three young women who attended!  (Read about the presentation they gave in September 2014 about the experience.)

Community members who would like to contribute monetarily to this year’s sponsorships can do so by sending a check to AAUW San Juan (memo: NCCSWL sponsorship) C/O Nayda Cumpiano, 60 Washington St, Apt 1102, San Juan, PR 00907.

We are accepting applications already!  To be eligible a candidate must be female, enrolled in a college or university in Puerto Rico, and fluent in English.  She must also be willing and able to participate fully in the conference in Maryland and report back to AAUW San Juan about her experience. The application and details about the process can be found here.

We are looking for an excellent portfolio of applications!

Please note:  There are any number of ways for a college woman to attend this conference.  She can certainly register and pay her own way.  There are also national scholarships available.  The San Juan sponsorship is just one way deserving women can pay for their attendance.  Here are AAUW’s recommendations for those on a budget (aren’t we all??)

Water: A Global Women’s Issue


A special, out of sequence meeting for AAUW San Juan will be Tuesday October 28th at 7:00 pm at the YWCA, when we welcome Dr, Caroline Sullivan, Associate Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy from the Southern Cross University of New South Wales in Australia.  Here is the poster for the event.  You can also find details on Facebook at

Please refer questions to Betsy or


Who’s Next? AAUW San Juan commits to at least one delegate every year!

Sofia Delgado, Noraida Martínez and Mayra Sánchez represented Puerto Rico and AAUW San Juan at the NCCWSL Last June.

Sofia Delgado, Noraida Martínez and Mayra Sánchez represented Puerto Rico and AAUW San Juan at the NCCWSL Last June.

AAUW San Juan and Puerto Rico were well-represented at the National Conference of Collegiate Women Student leader in June 2014.  Click here to read more about it and see more photos of the presentation they made at the first branch general meeting on September 15th.


Co-President Betsy Parker’s Plans for 2014-2015


I am really looking forward to the coming year.  As a branch, we have so many good irons in the fire!  Co-President Jody will report in this space also about her foci for the year , so stay tuned for that.

I will focus on three areas that address our (local and national) need for younger member involvement and recruiting.

1. The first is called the Younger Women’s Task Force.

I am actively looking for someone to start this for us here in Puerto Rico. YWTF members are automatically AAUW members. They will be a semi-autonomous group from our branch and will have their own organizational structure, officers, program etc. The group is designed to be a social justice focused organization for women in their 20s and 30s. Because their concerns and issues are closely aligned with ours, the “semi” in the semi-autonomous will be our branch support, via womanpower, experience and resources.

2. The second initiative I would like to get started this year is an effort to recruit college and university partners (C/U Partners ). Not only are the students of partner organizations all eligible for AAUW e-student affiliate membership, but are candidates for many other programs that AAUW has – both nationally and locally. Locally, for example, they become NCCSWL applicant material, and nationally we can make sure they know of the grants and fellowships they can apply for.

Additionally, my third initiative for this year, Tech Savvy requires a C/U partner campus on which to conduct the workshop. A C/U partner also gives us where to push for other AAUW grants like the current one offered through AAUW by Pantene on combating gender stereotypes.

3. The third initiative, as I mentioned, is bringing Tech Savvy to Puerto Rico ( ). Tech Savvy is an expanded and scripted version of our homegrown STEM BRIDGE initiative that has tracks for both the girls and the adults who advise them (parents and teachers, school counselors, etc.) Once we have at least one C/U partner we can begin to prepare our application to become a pilot site in 2016. A lot of advance work and planning will be necessary even to submit an application, so I want to get started now.

If you are interested in working with me, or just giving me your opinions on these endeavors, email me at

Betsy Parker, September 2014




Hello from Israel!

We are on a 3-week tour of work and a bit of relaxation here, beginning with a week in Tel Aviv.

The first thing that hit both of us is the pace of life here, and how vibrant, exciting and alive the city of Tel Aviv is.  In some ways it is a huge city much like others in every other part of the world…but what really overwhelmes you is how young it is here, and how there is almost an underground rhythm of growth, movement, yearning to be better, to excel and to modernize in a country grounded in history and ancient civilization.  You really feel the pulse of excitement as you witness the growth, and it’s a “join in or move over” attitude…there is no being passive here or I think you will get run over!

And the women…the words confident, assertive and strong don’t even begin to describe the young women.  A few nights ago we were having dinner and a group of young soldiers came into the restaurant.  There were about 10 of them, the majority female.  As they all went to put their machine guns up against the wall behind their table, it struck me how equal they all appeared to be.  So, I began to question my 27 year old nephew and his friends about their thoughts on women here… I was greatly pleased at the respect I heard. More importantly for me, though, was that for this generation of young Israelis, there really isn’t a “gender gap.”  They served next to women in the military and military service is obligatory for every girl 18-20 just as it is for every boy.  They compete for jobs with women at the same level and expect to have women as their superiors and partners throughout their lives.  They expect and want women in government and every part of life…it was a non-issue for them.

Of course problems exist here as they do in every other country, but it has been refreshing and energizing to experience this first hand.

With that said, don’t forget about our main fund raiser of the year Perfect Pairings…the money we raise helps move us further towards our own goals!  Let’s make this the most successful one yet!

Hope to see you all at the April meeting,

Co-President Jody Valdes

Screening – “The Invisible War” 2014

Monday, Feb 10th, at 7 pm


This month we will meet for a screening of “The Invisible War”, an award-winning documentary about sexual assault in the military. It is shocking, heartbreaking and unforgettable. Time Magazine named it one of the best films of the year, and it won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. (See the trailer here:

This documentary is also particularly poignant for AAUW members, as our Legal Advocacy Fund (LAF) is supporting some of the plaintiffs featured in the film.(read more at

As we personally plan to celebrate (or NOT) on Feb. 14th, whether we choose to rise and dance with a V-Day group or contribute in some other way toward ending violence against women and girls, the viewing of this film will surely spark conversation and heighten awareness. A timely issue and a personal connection to an actual case – what more could you want from an AAUW monthly program!

This is a perfect program to bring a potential AAUW recruit as well as family members and friends. The film makes the case for us as to why anyone should join AAUW and how our network of women around the country makes changes for women and girls!

The meeting will be held at Plaza Universitaria, Torre Central, Room 3072, located on Ave. Ponce de Leon in Rio Piedras, on left in front of the main UPR campus. For directions by train or car, click here. 

April 2013

I hope to see you all at the meeting on the 10th.  It will be so interesting to get the inside scoop on the Conservation Trust!

Our most important, and only fundraiser, of the year deserves your attention this month!  This is our opportunity to raise money for fellowships and grants for women as we have for the past 3 years with our successful Perfect Pairings Dinners.

This year, we will be treated to a four course dinner at 1919, the new restaurant in the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel!  It is going to be wonderful!  Jennifer and her committee have planned a wonderful evening, and $40 of every ticket sold will directly benefit AAUW’s Education Foundation.

Those of you weho have attended in the past know that the evening promises good food – and a fun evening!  We hope that everyone can attend!

If you cannot attend, there are ways for you to participate:  You can purchase a ticket to be donated or you can directly donate $40 – which will go to the EF.  You can offer something for a silent auction. You can encourage others to purchase tickets.  Every action, no matter how small, works to make this a successful event.  Contact me or Jennifer Bates with ideas and suggestions, and of course, questions.

Betsy Parker

PS Don’t forget to invite someone to join AAUW!
$50.50 paid at any activity in April means membership benefits through June 2014!

March 2013

Energy!  I feel it coursing through AAUW and it is exhilarating!  We have so many projects building!

Our February program on “Half the Sky” was an eye opener (though some of the atrocities we heard about make you want to shut your eyes!).  Support was overwhelmingly positive to try and get a public showing of the documentary.  I have contacted Caribbean Cinemas, and recently found out that Canal 40 (Sistema Universitaria Ana G Mendez) has the right for Puerto Rico.

You may have seen on Facebook the activity AAUW San Juan did for the One Billion Rising Campaign.  I’d love to continue to add photos to the album.  Is yours in it yet?  Men are welcome too and you don’t have to be a member to join that effort!

March 8th, to celebrate International Women’s Day we will join a march coordinated by the coalition promoting an end to violence against women Paz Para la Mujer (AAUW San Juan is a member of this coalition)to call attention to the legislation still on the table in PR that concerns women.

I know that our Puerto Rico Art Museum program is generating a lot of interest.  Don’t forget that we need to get a good count of who will attend, so we know whether we need a second docent to take us around.

We have our third STEM Bridge program scheduled for April 27th at St John’s School. (Contact Joanne Treistman if you want to help with that!) and our Perfect Pairings Fundraiser will be for May 5th at the 1919 Restaurant in the Vanderbilt Hotel in Condado.

I would also entertain ideas for a new members activity and a Bridge event for law and public service…Anyone want to join me?

And, last, but not least again, don’t forget the AAUW National Convention in New Orleans in June.  I have already registered!

Betsy Parker

PS Another reminder:  Invite someone to join AAUW San Juan.  For $50.50, paid at any activity we sponsor, he or she becomes a member now through June 30, 2014.

Exciting Spring plans!

February 2013 Newsletter

I am really excited about AAUW San Juan and all the events coming up in the next couple months!

Our February program on “Half the Sky” is a new opportunity for our branch to reach out into the community and educate people about the issues that face women all over the world!  Be sure to attend the meeting, to see some of the documentary and hear how we are going to use it right here in PR.

Take a good look at the calendar – and as they say:  Save the Dates!  Our March meeting will be on a Saturday at the art museum in Santurce.  April is traditionally our month for the BRIDGE programs – Planning has started.

Our Perfect Pairings Fundraiser is schedule (tentatively) for May 5th at the 1919 Restaurant in the Vanderbilt Hotel in Condado.

And, last, but not least, don’t forget the AAUW National Convention in New Orleans in June.  Two years ago I attended and I highly recommend the experience – even if you have been before!  The convention is more of a huge conference now, with all sorts of sessions for learning, for sharing, for having fun and making a difference for women and girls in the USA.  I have already registered!

Betsy Parker

Off and Running

AAUW San Juan has gotten off to a fast and furious start to the new program year. Our October program was a discussion of the plebiscite ballot options we will vote on on November 6th: Will we finally change our status or not?? In October, Diana Valle discussed the psychology of battered women and how it effects their rehabilitation. Both fascinating programs.

Next up is Ana Maria Garcia Blanco to talk about the Juan Domingo School – Mark your calendars for November 14th, at 7:00pm. Watch the newsletter for details on the location.

Kudos to Mary Anne Maldonado and the Program committee for a schedule of wonderful and challenging programs this year.

Renew Your Membership Now!

If you are a branch member and since our branch is registered with the Membership Payment Plan, you must go to the Member Center at Enter your member number then hit Submit.  (If you don’t know your member number, there is a Look Up link right there.  Once you’re into the Mmember center, The next step is to click on the Member Services Database link. Once on the Member Services Database page, enter your password (There are instructions on how to create a password and retrieve your password.). Once you are logged in, click on Renew My Membership located on the left side of the page.
If you have questions, call Betsy.

AAUW San Juan has had a very successful and busy 12 months – 2012!

Most significant of course is our Fund Raiser, Perfect Pairings III which raised over $3000 for the San Juan Research & Projects Grant.  Our goal with the grant is to grow it to $80K and we’re well over half way there.  This year we had our first official AAUW scholar, Katie Miranda, who gave us a program about her PhD research at UPR-RP and came to the fund raiser to represent what our grant does. Click here to read more and see the photos!

This year, after months of planning, we also conducted two BRIDGE workshops, one for STEM careers and one for art careers.  We intend to continue to develop BRIDGE  workshops, both in English and in Spanish, on these topics as well as new ones. To read more about the Bridge workshops and see pictures, click here.

Our calendar of monthly programs was stellar.  Many thanks to Jo Taylor for two years of wonderful work at our most challenging board position.  Certainly the highlight was the program on human trafficking in Puerto Rico, given by Cesar Rey, and attended by well over 100 people, members and guests.  This topic is of great interest to our members, and Jo Taylor has agreed to coordinate follow up projects on the topic next year.  Mary Anne Maldonado, our new VP of Programs will be convening meetings over the summer to discuss ideas and speakers for next year.

Socially, as always, we were very active!  Our End of the Summer Party (September), Gourmet Kick-off (October), Holiday Party (December), Final Meeting Pot Luck and our Labor Day weekend Cocktail Party (both in May), kept members and guests in touch and in good spirits.  New this year, we had a trips and tours committee that focused on local art museums, and the movie group, despite no proclaimed leader) got off to the movies on many Wednesdays.  Great Decisions was a huge draw this year, with more than 20 participants at some meetings.  Book Club added new members and enjoyed thoughtful discussions.  The international Women’s Issues group tackled the human trafficking issue and was prominent in getting the topic before all our members at the January meeting.  We also celebrate Women’s History Month with a joint luncheon with the Newcomer’s Club of San Juan.


Gone Fishing (almost) – May 2012

Summer’s almost here.  This is the month of graduations, school ending, and here in Puerto Rico:  People leaving the island for vacations, traveling and summer home stints.

AAUW San Juan will hold a potluck dinner on May 9th at the YWCA in Miramar.  This is our annual meeting, so we’ll elect a new Program VP, Mary Ann Maldonado.  We’ll also get some updates on the events of the year and talk about plans for next.

We have an AAUW national staffer in town at the end of the month who has graciously agreed to take time from her vacation to talk with us.  Holly Kearl is one of the co-authors of the latest AAUW research report on sexual harassment in schools as well as the coordinator for LAF.  We have plenty of themes to choose from!

Let’s also plan some ideas for the summer:  Gourmet test dinners, book club meetings, movies, and parties.  What ideas can you suggest?

Busy Month – April 2012!

There will be no general meeting this month because of all the other activities that we have going on!

First: Our Annual Fundraiser Perfect pairings is scheduled for April 17th at 7:00pm at the Bistro de Paris.

Second on April 21st we will conduct our second STEM Bridge workshop for middle and high school girls interested in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

And on May 5th, we will conduct the first workshop for Humanities Bridge for girls interested in careers built on studying the humanities.

Don’t forget Equal Pay Day on April 17th too!
There is more on all these activities in the links provided! See you there.

Next Meeting: March 14th, 2012 at the Bucaplaa Library

Details will be in the next newsletter – watch for it in your email! Our March meeting will be another informal, working meeting.

First, we’ll have updates on the actions being taken since the trafficking presentation in January and our brainstorming session in February. We will also request that all members working on the BRIDGE workshops plan to meet to iron out details for those events in April; the fund raiser committee will work out details for that event coming at the end of April…All ideas and people with ideas are welcome to join us!

February 2012 General Meeting – Plan to plan!

AAUW San Juan will meet Wednesday, February 8th at 7:00 pm at El Piropo Tapas Restaurant near the market in Santurce.

This informal meeting will give us a chance to discuss all we learned from our Human Trafficking presentation in January and brainstorm ways that we can help combat this problem. Over tapas and beer (if you wish) we will “brew” up some concrete projects, like creating a road show and volunteering for organizations already helping victims and children. Come at 7:00. We’ll get down to work about 7:300. All are welcome. This meeting is open to public, as are all our meetings! There is parking at the restaurant, Car pool for fun and the environment!

Happy New Year! Welcome in 2012

Welcome to a 2012!  A New Year always means resolutions … I hope your first resolution for 2012 will be to get involved in AAUW – whether that is attendance at meetings, donations to the San Juan Endowment, participation in the books club, the movie group, Great Decisions, the International Women’s Issues discussion group, serving on the planning committee for the fundraiser or even just commenting, sharing and “liking” our posts on Facebook.

Our first big event of 2012 is the presentation on human trafficking in Puerto Rico on January 19th.  This is a really important meeting:  Human trafficking DOES exit in Puerto Rico.  That it is right under our noses may be a surprise.  Don’t miss it.  Bring everyone you know and especially invite young people – high school students – this is a problem that affects every generation in our society.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for information about our luncheon meeting planned for March in celebration of Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day.

We also are planning another “Perfect Pairings”  dinner in May to raise money for the San Juan endowment of the Education Foundation of AAUW (our scholarship fund).

In between these big events, we will continue with our schedule of monthly programs, cultural outings and interest groups.

A resolution to get more involved – and all these options for doing it – It’s home run!

November 2011 Promises

November promises to be another active month for AAUW San Juan. We have a program planned for November 9th that you won’t want to miss on “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything.”

On the 17th join friends at Carmen Hammel’s for a pot luck luncheon and as always, interest groups (Books, Movies and International Women’s Issues) will all be meeting and welcoming additional members.

Be sure to watch your email for the newsletter!

Good feedback on last week’s activities. The museum trip was very well received – we had a good turn out and everyone was so impressed with the quality of the museum and the exhibits. Thank you to Mary Anne Maldonado who set that up!

Saturday morning, the International Women’s Issues discussion group met at the YWCA. The group decided to focus on a single topic: Trafficking. This is a timely topic because of our general meeting in January that features Cesar Rey of the Ricky Martin Foundation and covers this very topic. The group will be reading Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book “Half the Sky” for the next meeting, which is November 19th. Additional assignments will begin to round out our knowledge on this subject.

October 2011

Our AAUW San Juan program year is off to a wonderful start!

On the 12th, Katie Miranda, an AAUW scholar finishing her PhD at UPR-RP gave a presentation on her research the forged a lively discussion about literature and life in the Caribbean.

On the 20th, at 2:00pm a group of members will enjoy a guided tour of the Museo de la Vida Silvestre in San Juan.  Previous visitors say it is informative and extremely well done.

The International Women’s issues Group will hold its first meeting on Saturday, October 22.  See more on the interest groups for details.  Board members and interest group organizers are encouraged to meet at Betsy Parker’s on Sunday October 23rd at 2:30pm for a training session on the use of our Constant Contact email program.

Mark you calendars for November 12th, when Susan Besancon will present “The Shriver Report:  A Woman’s Nation”.  7:00pm at UPR Biology building 1st Floor seminar room.

There are many things to do!  Get involved!