Programs & Meetings

2023-24  Upcoming Programs & Meetings

THEME:  Economic Stability

For further information on any of the below programs, e-mail  All programs are held in Brainerd unless otherwise noted.


  Saturday, December 9, 10:30 am

The History of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas from a Child’s Perspective


Saturday, February 24, 2024 – 10:30 am

Water – We are the Protectors

 Elizabeth Mboutchom, Director of Development and Education

Northern Waters Land Trust


  Saturday, March 9, 2024 – 10:30 am

Combating Financial Stress

 Kiimberly Pilgrim, Meta 5 Program Director 

Central Lakes College

The Meta 5 program assists those facing sudden loss of income due to disability, separation, divorce, or death of a spouse.


  Saturday, April 13, 2024 – 10:30 am

 Money Matrix for Fun and Financial Health

Kristi Ackley, Owner

Growth by Design

Reimagine a common nonprofit tool to help determine where your interests align with potential for income earning hobbies. Spark ideas for having fun AND a healthy bank account!  Look at ideas for reducing costs on activities we love, like travel.


  Monday, June 3, 2024 – 5:30 pm

Avoiding Scams

Rachel Boggs, Scam Investigator

Brainerd Police

Explore with our local scam investigator what’s happening in our area and how to avoid being a victim.

2023-24 Programs  Held – Theme: Economic Stability

  Monday, November 6, 2023 – 5:30 pm

Toil in the Soil and Elsewhere (Harvest)

Members share ways of creating economic stability through the toil of their own hands.



 Saturday, September 16, 2023 – 10:30 am

Honoring Our Elders & Branch – 60th Anniversary Celebration

2022-23 Programs  Held – Theme: Aging with Grace and Wisdom

Monday, June 5, 2023 – 5:30 pm 

Importance of Community

Membership   How do you plan to stay physically active?

What will you do to keep mentally sharp?

How will you maintain a connection to the Branch?


Monday, April 24, 2023, 5:30 pm

The End of Life Tender Conversations

Tanya Hanson , Death Dulla


  Saturday, February 18, 2023, 10:30 am 

Word Currency

Tiffany Stenglein, Program Manager, The Shop


   Saturday, December 10, 2022, 9:15 am

Cup of Christmas Tea

Rebecca Timmins & Membership


   Monday, November 7, 2022, 6:30 pm

What Do We Know About LGBTQ+?

Cynthia Janes, Tracy Lyons, Joey Halvorson, Jennifer Perez Krueger

NORTHLAND GET TOGETHER – Saturday, October 8, 2022 – 9:30 am – 2 pm -Regional AAUW Gathering –  Northland Arboretum, 14250 Conservation Drive, Baxter.


Susan Beaulieu                               Jan Kurtz

SPARK (English)                               ZISIKINE (Ojibwa)                   CHISPA (Spanish)

(flicker ~ gleam ~ a small but important amount)

The AAUW Northland Get Together was held at the Northland Arboretum, located at 14250 Conservation Drive in Baxter, MN.  The Brainerd Branch welcomed members from the Branches of Duluth, Ely, Grand Rapids, and Hibbing. Forty-three individuals attended..

Bev Lundorff (Co-President) extended a warm welcome to all participants: AAUW members, presenters and guests.

Julie Despot (Co-President) introduced and explained the theme of the Northland Get Together – SPARK – and its correlation to the AAUW Mission to promote gender equity for all women and girls.  Importantly, Julie pointed out some challenges that need to be addressed as we look at women’s equity from a standpoint of racial injustice, intersectionality and a better understanding of the differences between equality and equity. Julie referenced the book, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, that recounts crimes and murders of members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma for the primary intention of gaining ownership of their land allotment. Julie also spoke of trans-racial adoptions of Native American children by white families and noted that by the mid-1970s, one-quarter to one-third of all indigenous children had been separated from their families in Minnesota. (Data from The Booth Girls by Kim Heikkila.) Julie then shared another example of cultural challenges.  In Northern Shores Southern Borders by Jan Kurtz (AAUW Brainerd member), Jan described a hospital patient who suffered a concussion.  When the patient woke up, she needed a drink of water but did not know how to ask for it in English (staff in the hospital didn’t speak Spanish); thus, it wasn’t until Jan arrived at the hospital, as an interpreter, could the patient get the water she wanted.

The morning program began with two introductions followed by a panel discussion and Word Bingo:


  • Jan Kurtz – retired Spanish and Latin American Studies instructor at Central Lakes College (CLC), program creator of Cultural Thursdays at CLC, author and bi-lingual optimist. Jan was instrumental in connecting us with two of the panelists: Rocio Fernandez Lugo and Maritza Ornelas.
  • Susan Beaulieu – member of the Red Lake Nation, PhD candidate in Social and Administrative Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota-College of Pharmacy, former Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension for Family Development, and teaches about Adverse Childhood Experiences on Native American communities. Susan has been interviewed about historical trauma on MPR with Cathy Wurzer and she also has been a presenter on Cultural Thursdays.  Susan graciously connected us with the other two panelists: Michele Berger and LeeAnn Woiteshek. Susan also shared some insightful information:
    • The Red Lake Nation was not granted land allotments but rather the land is owned by its members. It is the only reservation with that arrangement in Minnesota.
    • The impact of the removal of Native American children from their families/homes to attend boarding school is still manifested via Historical Trauma
    • Adverse Childhood Experiences are also prevalent in the Native American culture for which there might be a correlation to epigenetics
    • Epigenetics is the study of how our behavior and environment can impact how our genes might work
    • Missing, Murdered, Exploited Indigenous Women is a growing concern

Panel Discission: Although each of their stories was unique, all four panelists shared personal, informative and often heart-touching narratives.

  • Rocio Fernandez Lugo came to the United States, from Argentina, as an exchange student at CLC in 2001. She did not intend to remain in the USA, but subsequently met someone and got married; she and her husband and their two children live in Little Falls. Rocio did not recall any blatant discrimination or maltreatment based on her outward appearance or for being from a different culture/country and speaking a different language. Nonetheless, Rocio commented that there are times when she feels a sense of aloneness and wishes there were other/more people from Argentina with whom she could connect easily.
  • Maritza Ornelas was raised in California and is of Hispanic/Latina heritage.  She grew up speaking both Spanish and English.  Maritza and her family moved to central Minnesota while she was in middle school.  She remembers being active in sports and having numerous friends.  Maritza could not recall much discrimination until recently.  She described a recent incident at her place of employment where she spoke a word or two in Spanish to another co-worker.  A third co-worker challenged her by saying, “We speak English here.”  Maritza was taken aback and felt humiliated.
  • Michele Berger is a member of the Bear Clan. She spent her formative years in Minneapolis, but her mother moved the family to Isle when she was in elementary school. Although Michele had relatives in the school, she was the only Native American child in her class and she was often expected to be the expert on Thanksgiving and other Native American related events.  Michele also disclosed that her mother was an alcoholic and the disease, along with physical abuse, were prevalent in her family.  Moreover, some of her older family members had been taken away to boarding schools and the results of the trauma were still present.  However, Michele was determined to break the cycle of alcoholism and physical abuse and has achieved her goal. (Michel wore Native clothing.)
  • LeeAnn Woiteshek grew up in Minneapolis and also is a member of the Bear Clan but from a different tribe. She too had older family members who were taken away to boarding school and still suffer the effects of being denied the right to speak their language and worship as they had been raised. However, LeeAnn was determined to make her own path.  She became a welder – the only woman on the crew; yet, later she was wanted on many jobs because of her skills.  LeeAnn is hoping to start an organization of female welders.  LeeAnn also shared that her son, who is Afro-Native cannot be enrolled as Native American because he does not meet the blood quantum qualifications. (LeeAnn wore Native clothing.)

Word Bingo was an interactive and exceedingly informative exercise. In many ways, it highlighted how much more we all need to learn!

During the afternoon program, Tracey Srock, University of Minnesota Master Gardner since 2010 and owner of Morning Glory Flowers and Pies, demonstrated assembling holiday decorations – for outdoor pots, wreaths, and table decorations. Tracey stressed the importance of starting small and being successful!

After the official closing of the Northland Get Together, participants had the option of a tour of the Arboretum guided by Ginger Kopp.

The Next Northland Get Together: Saturday, October 7, 2023 in Duluth

2021-22 Programs (Theme:  Passion into Action) & Meetings Held

   Monday, September 12, 2022, 6:30 pm

Move and Be a Winner, Karen Buckhouse, Exercise/Health Business Owner

   Monday, June 6, 2022 – 5:30 pm – Leadership/Women in Business  –  Tastes of Downtown 

  • Sage on Laurel, Sara Hayden Shaw
  • Fancy Pants Chocolates, Nancy Williams 
  • Loide’ Oils and Vinegar, Lois Hensel
  • Knotty Pine Bakery, Marie Kirsch
  • Ya-Sure Kombucha
  • 5 Rocks Distillery
  • An overview by each owner describing how she turned her Passion into Action

Monday, April 25, 2022 – 5:30 pm – Leadership/Women in the Arts/Annual Meeting  –  Poets as Leaders – Poetry Reading  –  Laura Hansen, Poet

A Passion for WORDS   – When I hold a pen in my hand I am like a tree ready to be tapped.   (Excerpted from Ms Hansen’s web page.

    Saturday, March 19, 2022 – Education and Training – Women and Mental Health  –  Cultural Awareness Presentation  (Cultural Awareness, Discrimination, Ethnocentrism)  –    Clairabel Severson, PhD, LPCC 

Saturday, February 19, 2022 – Economic Security – Womenand Financial Health  –  Women, Wealth and WisdomTara Hemsing Woitalla, Thrivent

           Saturday, December 11, 202110:30 am – Celebration  –  Children and Music  

     Monday, October 18, 2021 –Governance & Sustainability/Women in Politics  –  Being in Office  –  Jana Shogren, Brainerd School Board and Carrie Allord, St Mathias Township Board Supervisor & Chair of the Board

   Monday, September 27, 2021 – Governance & Sustainability  –  Our AAUW FamilyPost CoVid Transition, Reconnection, Welcome Back  –  Each member with facilitators Donn and Colleen

2020-21 Programs & Meetings Held

  • Monday, June 7, 2021 –  NCCWSL report (see NCCWSL tab)  
  • Monday, April 26, 2021 Annual Meeting plus a special reading by an AAUW Life Member
  •    Thursday, March 18, 2021 – Virtual Special Program – Betty Folliard –   This program was open to the public and recorded.  All are welcome to view it at:        GHb-AqzjJihx9ctxbY0ny_c-o.pJss4pPOu7kc8opa
  • Monday, March 15, 2021 –  Steering Committee Meeting
  • Saturday, February 20, 2021    Update on Creating a Sustainable and Effective Solution to Homelessness in the Brainerd Area presented by Captain Joyce Curran of the Brainerd Salvation Army.
  • Saturday, December 5, 2020      Multi-cultural Music and Special Songs
  • Monday, November 16, 2020    Steering Committee Meeting
  •    Monday, October 26, 2020    Dirt – a pilot film, by Hannah Warling, which portrays the human trafficking of Native Americans.  Warling is a screenwriter and producer from Minnesota.
  • Monday, September 28, 2020    Women in the Corporate Environment presented by Angela Busch, Ecolab EVP

2019-20 Programs & Meetings Held

  • June 30, 2020, Steering Committee Meeting – Held virtually
  • June 8, 2020, Annual Meeting – Held virtually. Angela Busch, Ecolab EVP, who had been scheduled to speak at the June 8th meeting, will speak on the Rise of Women in Corporate America at a future meeting.
  • April 27, 2020,  Annual Meeting  5:30pm,  (Postponed until June 8)
  • March 19th, Betty Folliard on Women’s Rights and the ERA. (Cancelled due to CoVid 19)  Betty is a former MN State legislator who served Hennepin County from 1997-2002.  1:00 pm and 5:30 pm In collaboration with League of Women Voters and Central Lakes College
  • March 9th, 7 pm  Jeannette Rankin First Woman Elected to Congress, performed by J Emily Peabody at Chalberg Theater, Central Lake College In collaboration with League of Women Voters and CLC
  • February 22, 2020 – Tour of WeARE Clinic with a presentation by Executive Director Becky Twamley
  • January 18, 2020 – 13th annual BRAIN BUSTER Trivia Event 1pm
  • December 7, 2019 – Holiday Celebration with bluegrass band “Steve and Friends” 11am
  • October 28, 2019 – Tour of Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center and Alex & Brandon Child Safety Center, 5:30pm
  • September 30, 2019 – “Our Mississippi Our Future” by Eleanor Burkett of The Nature Conservancy, 5:30pm