The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The above photo is from MD NOW’s 2019 State Conference’s Progressive Politics panel
2019 State Conference Panelists: (L-R) Joseline Peña-Melnyk, Sarah Elfreth, Allison Galbraith, and Michelle Ngwafon with Sandy Bell, MD NOW President
Maryland NOW was organized in 1973 when National NOW’s bylaws created its current structure of state organizations coordinating the work of member chapters within their geopolitical borders. Prior to that year, chapters had formed in many cities across the U.S. and some states had come together informally to coordinate work on ERA ratification, ballot initiatives, working together and their work now fit within NOW’s organizational structure. Under IRS tax classifications, we are a 501(c)(4) organization and contributions to Maryland NOW are not tax-deductible.
We have member chapters in many counties across the state and are always looking for new members and leadership for those groups. These groups statewide are a sign of our strength and we welcome new people at any time, to either join an existing group or to start one.
Our agenda consists of our own goals – our members’ priorities expressed at our annual meeting – and the issues our national organization adopts as program and action goals. Statewide, we work on many fronts with coalition partners and on our own legislative priorities to advance women’s rights through legislation in our state.
Our state’s geography presents organizing challenges and we know that the struggles our sisters face in the more conservative areas of Maryland are very different for the challenges of chapters in some of the well-to-do suburbs of Washington DC and Baltimore. Every group – whether it is located on the Eastern Shore or in Montgomery County is important to us. Members from Howard County cannot effectively lobby for chapters in Frederick to those district’s Members of Maryland’s General Assembly. Our statewide Maryland NOW Council is very committed to giving all women in our state a voice in Annapolis and in our work advancing women’s rights. .
We are active in statewide coalitions working for women’s rights, and we have members who have been actively working in Annapolis for many years to develop relationships with legislators and committee leaders.
Of great importance is our Maryland NOW Political Action Committee (PAC). We reach out to all candidates running for office to give them our endorsement if they support our issues and earn the approval of our PAC members. For the 2022 election cycle, we are very interested in being able to make financial contributions to the campaigns of our endorsed candidates, so we are actively involved in fundraising work on that front to support candidates who will work effectively for us in Annapolis.
Your support is important and we greatly appreciate your financial contributions to our organizations. But we very much need your involvement in this effort. Please never doubt that you can make a difference and that your involvement is critical to our success.