About the Branch

About the Empire State Virtual Branch

Since 1881 AAUW has paved the way for women to pursue their goals. We have been in the forefront of the battles for civil rights, education, and reproductive rights. With nearly 100,000 members and 1,000 local branches, our list of accomplishments is long. But we still have much farther to go, and that’s why we need you.

Through branch membership, you can share in the opportunities for activism and help develop programs that promote education and equity, not just for women and girls but for the entire community. You can enhance your leadership skills. You can take advantage of numerous benefit programs. And you can tap into a network of women in New York State and nationwide.

Why join an on-line branch?

Here are some of the reasons you might want to join an on-line branch. You are committed to the AAUW mission, and

    • Geography: there’s no land branch near you
    • Time: Other time commitments make it impossible to attend local branch programs, but you’d like to stay connected to women’s issues and share with others who are committed to the mission, too.
    • Issues: Some issues need state-wide attention and you’d like to be a part of the strategies to bring about change.
    • Friendship: Meet women of diverse cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, and professions in New York State —women and men who are committed to shaping the future. And, It’s a good way to stay in touch with AAUW friends across the state.

Can you belong to both a land branch and the Empire State Virtual Branch? Sure! Many AAUW members belong to more than one branch.

Take Advantage of AAUW Benefits

Membership in AAUW brings several benefits. You can review them on our national website here. They range from travel and research reports to medical and insurance benefits and Princeton Review discounts. Take a look.

What kind of people belong to an on-line branch?

Our membership directory is private (members only), but here are a few of the charter members that initiated the Empire State Branch.

Maria Ellis has a real estate practice in New York City, and belongs to the New York City branch. She became interested in starting a virtual branch when she was elected AAUW NYS Vice President for Membership. Maria loves to see AAUW grow in influence and numbers. She knows that it takes many voices help to break through barriers.

Maria is an expert fundraiser. She has served on the national AAUW gifts committee and the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund. And she gives nonprofits probono help through the Harvard Business School Community Partners.

Donna Seymour is serving as AAUW Public Policy Director and will be editing the newsletter for the virtual branch. She has been championing the Empire Branch for some time. She sees it as a wonderful tool to bring together AAUW members who share concerns that cross traditional branch and district lines. Donna has activism in her blood. In the past few months, she has been a leader in educating people about the environmental concerns around hydro-fracking, which touches much of the state.St. Lawrence County Branch

As a 20-year AAUW member Donna has served two stints as NYS Communications Director and is a former editor of the NYS FOCUS. She lives in Potsdam, way upstate, and is a member of the St. Lawrence County Branch.

Melissa Guardaro is drawn to international women’s issues and she was recently appointed as AAUW’s representative to the United Nations.

Melissa worked with Joan Monk to develop, implement and improve “My Sister’s Keeper,” a statewide project to enrich our international involvement. Many of us have benefited from the AAUW United Nations Day conferences she has organized. In 2010, she traveled with AAUW’s national delegation to Cuba.

Melissa is a five-year member of the Rockland Branch. As international chair there, she led the team that provided a mentoring program for USAID students from Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. She served as branch co-president (2009-11) and was recognized as an Emerging Leader by AAUW NYS in 2009 and is just finishing her term as international chair on the state board.

Ruth Wahtera loves exploring new media for her nonprofit clients and tries out new programs and applications on her AAUW Branch in Kingston. You’ll find her on FaceBook, Linked-In, Pinterest, Twitter, and busy at her computer preparing enewsletters and grant applications. She’s especially interested in strengthening AAUW’s voice in the public dialog about equity, women’s healthcare, education, and breaking down barriers.

Ruth was recognized as an emerging leader in 2008 and is a member of AAUW’s national leadership corps. Of course she edits her branch newsletter, FB page, and website.

Joan Monk takes her AAUW membership seriously. She’s a life member and belongs to three branches: Westchester, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston. Now, she’s a charter member of Empire. Fairytales intrigue her and she has traveled the world to study with the experts. In her second career (she retired from her first as a pre-kindergarten teacher) she raises funds for her favorite nonprofits, writes, and facilitates fairytale workshops for adults.

Joan is the NYS District Council Coordinator and developed “My Sister’s Keeper” with Melissa Guardaro.


We want to thank all of our donors and members for their generous financial support and personal commitment to the missions of AAUW. If you would like to make a donation, please use the button below.

Let Us Answer Your Questions

Please e-mail us with any questions you may have. And feel free to invite your friends and business associates … anyone you believe would be interested in helping us shape the future for women and girls.

We look forward to having you join us virtually.