Madeleine Kunin to speak at 15th YWCA Luncheon

Madeleine Kunin has been announced as the keynote speaker at the YWCA of Walla Walla’s 2014 YWCA Luncheon. The luncheon will be held at the Marcus Whitman Hotel on April 30 at noon.

Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased by calling (509) 525-2575 or by contacting one of our Table Captains.

Madeleine Kunin served as the first woman governor of Vermont, Deputy Secretary of Education  and U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland in the ’90s. She is the James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont, and has authored three books.

“Her experience in diplomacy, government and education is extremely impressive… She’s a vigorous advocate for women, strong families, and quality education,” said Claire Siegel, co-chair of the luncheon.

This is the 15th anniversary of the luncheon. To mark the occasion, Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin announced that the goal of the 2014 YWCA Luncheon is to raise an additional $10,000 in order to support a program initiative for supporting and enhancing word development in young children at My Friends’ House childcare center.

“Children who have the benefit of high quality childcare and preschool have a greater likelihood to stay in school, participate in higher education, avoid neglect, abuse and crime, and contribute positively to society. Children who are not ready to learn struggle and usually cannot catch up. Permanently behind, they are more likely to drop out, engage in crime, including violent crime, become incarcerated, have difficult relationships and repeat the cycle. We see the fallout of such situations every day at the YWCA in our crisis response programs,” said Anne-Marie.

“Our goal is to work to prevent violence and trauma before it results in calls to the crisis line, time in the emergency room, and nights in our shelters. The YWCA of Walla Walla is in a unique situation to do something about it, as a leading provider of high quality childcare and other youth activities in our community.”

Choosing Kunin as speaker began with a chance encounter at Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore. Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin was on her way to her favorite part of the store when she heard an announcement over the store intercom that Kunin would be discussing her new book in the Purple Room.

“The announcer gave details about the book and about Ms. Kunin, the first woman to be elected governor of Vermont, and I started to remember a conversation I had with my Dad years ago,” Anne-Marie said.

In 1980, when Anne-Marie was a high school student choosing a college, her father suggested Bennington College—in Vermont.

“During the conversation, he mentioned something like, ‘There is an impressive woman there who is probably going to be the first woman elected governor. If you went to Bennington, you would probably end up working for her.’ All this came back to me, and I made a beeline for the Purple Room.”

Anne-Marie was immediately captivated by Ms. Kunin’s talk at Powell’s.

“She is so insightful, so intelligent, and so passionate about women and women’s leadership. A very classy lady, I thought she would be a wonderful luncheon speaker. When I was back in my office, I Googled her and found an email address.”

Taking a chance, Anne-Marie emailed Madeleine Kunin.

“To my surprise, she replied and we had an email conversation for a few weeks. I told her about my Dad’s comment all those years ago… the rest is herstory!”

To learn more about Madeleine Kunin, visit her website at

To learn more or get involved with the luncheon, please call our office today at (509) 525-2570.

Leadership Luncheon Poster - Final