About three years ago Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck and I formed the Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus, made up of current and former Utah women legislators. Our intent was to honor and celebrate Mattie Cannon, the namesake of the caucus, while providing an opportunity for our members to work together on issues and policies, and get in some good old fashioned bonding along the way.
This Deseret News op-ed, penned by Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus member and former State Representative Holly Richardson, highlights the reasons behind the caucus, My view: Martha Caucus seeks to inspire interested women in serve in politics and business
“We look forward to the day when it is the norm to see women running for office and excelling in business, when it is so ingrained in our Utah culture that we no longer need to note and take action about the lopsided electoral presence. Until then, we intend to continue speaking up and speaking out about the value women bring to all organizations.”
The impact of Martha Hughes Cannon was felt in the 1800’s and is still felt today. A recent Deseret News op-ed, Martha Hughes Cannon changed my world; I want to change the world for her, by Lone Peak High School senior Natalie Tonks, shares how this move is about so much more than just one statue or one woman.
We held our first Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus Reception several years ago and invited the women legislative session interns for some speed mentoring and group discussions with the MHCC members. It was a great event, with numerous former legislators returning to the Capitol for the first time in years. The 2017 MHCC Reception had 25 current and former legislators and about 20 interns in attendance. This year our numbers were even higher. On either end of the spectrum were an 18 year old high school intern and an 88 year old former Representative who served for 21 years from the 70’s to the 90’s. We listened, learned, shared, and laughed…..a lot.
Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus Reception, 2016
Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus Reception, 2017
We also held a retreat in 2016 to kick things off for the MHCC.
We shared the reasons we got involved in public service, ways in which we felt we have made a difference, what we wish we had known at age 22, the importance of women having a voice in politics, and our desire to serve as mentors for these bright interns.That was the first year we heard a presentation on a project rolling out in the state to celebrate the role Utah women played in the suffrage movement. The project is called BetterDays 2020, and in 2017 co-founders Neylan McBaine and Mandee Grant discussed their large vision for events rolling out in 2020 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women getting the vote. Tonight we had Jen Christensen, BetterDays 2020 Public Policy Director, give us an update on what’s happened since last year and what we can watch for as we get closer to 2020 and the 150th anniversary. Some fantastic events are in the works!
I’m grateful for my legislative colleagues and for my predecessors who paved the path for my service. I hope to be in a position where I can encourage and support other women in achieving their potential and making a difference in their communities.
Some photos from this evening and our group mentoring activity: