AAUW Changed My LifeMay 18, 2011
I am Denise M. Decker, a longtime AAUW member who has held several leadership positions on the national, state, and branch levels. I credit AAUW with having changed my life in 1975 when I was awarded an American Fellowship to complete my doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. I have been blind since birth, have taught French and Spanish on the university level, and have worked for 30-plus years for two federal agencies, most recently as a senior policy analyst in professional and organizational development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
I truly believe that achieving my life’s goals would have been significantly more difficult without my AAUW fellowship, which enhanced my credibility and allowed me to compete more successfully in the workplace. I wanted to give back to AAUW, which had done so much for me.
I therefore became a member in 1978 and have maintained my steadfast commitment to AAUW for more than 30 years, serving on national, state, and branch boards and international delegations to Japan and the former USSR. As a diversity trainer and coordinator for AAUW in the 1990s, I was privileged to design the disability access policies that AAUW adopted and still uses.
As a member of the AAUW Arlington (VA) Branch, I have been a membership co-vice president and Legal Advocacy Fund chair, and I have designed several diversity programs, one of which won the branch a monetary award from the National Organization on Disability. This award was used to assist special needs programs in three Arlington schools. I am also an active member of the AAUW Washington, D.C., Branch, where I have worked with the D.C. board to revise branch bylaws and design a Lunch Bunch program to provide college and career guidance to high school girls and boys.
In 2009, I was selected as a member of the AAUW Leadership Corps. One of my goals in the corps is to continue my diversity commitment to AAUW and to help states and branches create change-management strategies that enhance opportunities for women and girls today and into the future. My Seeing Eye dog, Wonder, and I look forward to serving AAUW in this and other capacities in support of its mission-driven programming and strategic advancement. This year’s convention will offer me the chance to do just that by serving on the host committee. Hope to see you there!
This blog was written by AAUW Leadership Corps, AAUW Arlington (VA) Branch, and AAUW Washington, D.C., Branch member Denise M. Decker, Ph.D.