Monterey Peninsula
Volume 69 Issue 3
Monterey Peninsula Branch
Jan.-Feb. 2022

Calendar of Coming Events

Saturday, January 22, 2:00 PM - January Branch Zoom Meeting. AAUW Fund scholarship recipient Sabrina Baffert speaks about her experience as a research scientist in molecular biology with an industrial Biotech Firm and her studies at UC Berkeley, pursuing her MPH in Epidemiology.

Saturday, February 26, 12 noon - Annual Inter Branch Council (IBC) Zoom Meeting for the Monterey Peninsula and Santa Cruz branch members, hosted this year by the Santa Cruz Branch. Speaker is Dr. Dara Norman, astrophysicist and leader in DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion).

Saturday, March 12, 2:00 PM - March Branch Meeting. Story of an Immigrant. Hear Anna's story of moving to America. Details TBA.

Saturday, April 30, 2:00 PM - April Branch Meeting, on Pesticides in Monterey County. Details TBA.

Saturday, May 14, 2:00 PM - May Branch Meeting. Details TBA.

Sunday, June 5, 5:00 - 7:00 PM - June Branch Meeting. Art and Local Scholarship. Bringing together AAUW members, featuring those who are artists, to share an evening of wine and appetizers. Details TBA.

Date: Saturday, January 22
Time: 2:00 - 3:00 PM
Speaker: Sabrina Baffert, AAUW Fund Grantee 

Sabrina Baffert is the recipient of a Career Development Grant from AAUW, sponsored by donations from a number of California AAUW branches. This grant allows her to pursue the MPH at UC Berkeley, focusing on bio-statistics. These skills will allow her to analyze the distribution of global health inequities in epidemics, which she hopes to be able to address in her future career.

Her current career is quite interesting too. As project manager at a start-up biotechnology company in San Diego, she is deeply involved in the development and improvement of high-efficiency RNA polymerases for applications in RNA-based therapeutics and vaccines, like the one against Covid 19. Her work in molecular biology may be instrumental for our next Covid booster shots. This is very exciting and we are eager to hear more about it from Sabrina. She has also worked on mapping genetic diversity of infectious pathogens, bringing her to Jamaica and Peru where she aimed to better understand cultural approaches to health.

Sabrina is especially delighted to speak to our Monterey branch since her mother grew up in King City and there are farm worker experiences in Salinas in her family. This has lead to the idea of adding a local voice to our January meeting, potentially on the efforts of the Monterey County Health Department to vaccinate farm workers. We will keep you posted on whether this works out.

You will feel inspired and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of AAUW Fund's role in advancing educational opportunities for women to advance equity. This is a fundraiser, so be prepared to support AAUW Fund. We will let you know how to best make a contribution. Below is the zoom link for this meeting. Please join us.

To Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 856 3500 2900
Passcode: 767421
One tap mobile
+16699009128,,85635002900# US (San Jose)

Gabriele Simbriger-Williams, AAUW Fund Director

Annual Inter-branch Meeting
 of the AAUW branches of
 Santa Cruz County and
the Monterey Peninsula 

Date: Saturday, February 26
Time: 12 noon
Speaker: Dr. Dara Norman, astrophysicist and leader in DEI
Topic: Diversity in STEM Disciplines: a Look at Astronomy

The number of women in the field of Astronomy and Astrophysics has grown significantly in recent years. In 2017, 33% of astronomy bachelors’ degrees and 40% of astronomy doctorates went to women; however, there is still much work to do at senior levels. Additionally, although the number of White women has grown, representation is still poor for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Women of color especially struggle with the effects of this “double jeopardy” in their STEM careers. Efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have increased to the point where now long-established organizations (e.g., professional societies, university departments, and funding agencies) are moving to support the improvement of representation in Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Norman will discuss some of these ongoing efforts, note where changes have occurred, and highlight areas where more effort is needed.

Dr. Dara Norman is an astrophysicist and a recognized leader in DEI. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Astronomy from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science from MIT. In addition to her personal astronomy research, Dr. Norman is a prominent diversity advocate at NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory),* which manages telescopes and astronomical data distribution at observatories in Arizona, Hawaii and Chile. In this role, she works on establishing and implementing recruitment and retention initiatives for minorities and women in astronomy. She is one of approximately only 20 African-American astronomers in the world at present.

She also serves as a member of the American Astronomical Society's Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy. She has served as an expert panelist in a number of National Academy of Sciences studies, which have culminated in the Academies' 2013 report on advancing women of color in academia and a 2018 report on sexual harassment in the sciences. And if that's not enough, she's also co-hosted a star-gazing party at the White House during the Obama Administration. In addition to the First Family, the event was attended by local middle school students as a way to promote science literacy.

Click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Guests are welcome.

*NOIRLab is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) operates these facilities and NSF’s NOIRLab under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF).

A new year has begun and with it comes our renewed hope to meet in-person whenever we can do so safely. We hope you had a happy and safe Holiday Season.

In November, our Program Committee presented a highly informative presentation by Rafael Hernandez, Housing Program Associate with the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership. MBEP's goal is to increase housing in areas of most critical need.

A 2020 Monterey County housing survey found that over 14,000 low-income renters do not have access to an affordable home. Renters need to earn about $33/hour to afford the average monthly rent of $1,713. And 58% of extremely low-income families are paying more than half their income for housing compared to 6% of moderate-income households. If you would like to view the entire slide presentation, go to and click on the link in the November 2021 program description.

In December, we had an in-person new/prospective member reception at the home of Joanne Webster. Joanne and Board members Fatima Dias, Debbie Hobbs and Ardith Peck were joined by ten guests. Our new members have an impressive array of accomplishments and will fit right in with our dynamic branch. We know you’ll enjoy getting to know them as we get back to in-person events.

Our Holiday Party in December at the home of Pat Fletcher was a rousing success. Good cheer and laughter were all around. Thanks to everyone for bringing food items and donating books that we gave to Community Partnership for Youth.

The two-year term for our current Board members ends on June 30, 2022 and we are actively looking for candidates to serve on the Board or on a committee (Membership, Programs, Tech Trek, and Local Scholarships). We hope you will consider serving in some capacity. Marilyn Erickson, Debbie Hobbs and Pat Fletcher are heading our nominating committee and can discuss volunteer opportunities with you.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to put the past in perspective and to appreciate the kindness and generosity you find in the world. We look forward to seeing you at future programs and events. We wish you a safe Happy New Year!

Fatima Dias and Joanne Webster, Co-Presidents

We welcome all interested volunteers for our interview panel! Our Local Scholarship Program is one of our outreach projects serving students in the Monterey County area. Please join us for the rewarding experience of selecting and interviewing our Local Scholarship finalists! Just a few hours of your time is needed in mid-April and early May when our committee conducts interviews with potential scholarship candidates of three local schools: MPC, Hartnell, and CSUMB. We meet twice for each school and ask that you try to commit to attend both meetings. At the first meeting, our panel winnows down the applications to five finalists. Then an interview day is set up with the school and we interview (via Zoom) each applicant, spending about 20 minutes with each.

Please let Maggie Pedersen know if you would like to join us; 713-206-6507 or [email protected].

Noelle Hetz and Maggie Pedersen, Co-Chairs, Local Scholarships
Tech Trek Receives Yellow Brick Road Grant

We are pleased to announce that we have received a $2000 grant from the Yellow Brick Road Benefit Shop at the mouth of Carmel Valley ( These funds will support local girls to attend Tech Trek next summer. Yellow Brick Road has been a faithful supporter of our Tech Trek program for a number of years now. They are currently looking for new volunteers and would welcome any of you who are able to help out. Thanks so much Yellow Brick Road!

Pat Fletcher - Tech Trek Director

Women’s Reproductive Rights - Where Are We Now?
by Claire Noonan, AAUW CA Public Policy

By January 22, 2022, the 49th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision, SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States) will have heard arguments on Texas SB 8 legislation banning pregnancy termination after six (6) weeks and Mississippi’s legislation (Whole Women‘s Health Organization v Dobbs) to ban abortion after fifteen (15) weeks.

What are the issues? For Texas, it isn’t about the constitutionality of the legislation, i.e. the fundamental right decided by Roe v Wade. Instead, a decision will be made on the tactics used by the Texas legislature - delegating their enforcement duties to citizens - to preclude lawsuits against the State.

The decision on the Mississippi legislation will be straightforward. One, SCOTUS could overturn Roe v Wade. Two, the court could limit legal standing to challenges on state law, e.g. doctors wouldn’t be able to challenge on behalf of patients. Three, new legal standards for the evaluation of abortion regulations may be created so states aren’t required to show that the benefits of an abortion ban outweigh the undue burden to patients – reversing Planned Parenthood v Casey. (Women’s Health Policy, 11/21/2021)

One hundred six (106) state laws have been passed to restrict abortion in 2021. Activists, like AAUW, are bringing lawsuits before the Supreme Court. AAUW has submitted an amicus brief for Whole Women’s Health v Dobbs as to the constitutionality of the Mississippi law.

In addition, the ACLU and others have brought lawsuits against other Mississippi abortion-related legislation like regulations for informed consent, a waiting period before the procedure, and ban on telemedicine visits.

Surveys show that 60-70% of Americans approve of abortion in all or most circumstances. Only 20% think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. (New York Times, Upshot (5/19/2021). AAUW and AAUW California stand with the majority, and the time to act is now. We must pressure the Senate to pass the Womens Health Protection Act. The legislation must become law in this session. Unfair changes in representation have occurred with redistricting. Votes in the 2022 mid-term elections that would elect representatives who would vote for this bill could be suppressed.

Detailed information on the current position for women’s reproductive health is available from the Guttmacher Institute.

Wanted: AAUW Artists who will exhibit 1 selection to share at our Art & Local Scholarship Wine and Appetizer Event in June. If willing, please contact Maureen Vieth, Karen Hall, Mary Conway, Noelle Hetz, or Maggie Pedersen. We really think this will be a wonderful way to share your talents and support our local scholars.

Maureen Vieth and Karen Hall, Program VPs
Morning Books
(via Zoom)
Mon., Jan. 17, 10 AM
Members will share book possibilities and choose 10 books to read in 2022.

Mon., Feb. 21, 10 AM
TBA (from books chosen in January) It is not yet decided if this meeting will be a zoom meeting or it may be held at Sally Griffin Senior Center.
Contact Kathy Poulson if you want more information.

Kathy Poulson
Joy of Reading Books
(via Zoom)
Tues., Jan. 11, 2 PM
Viewing and discussion of documentary film based on the life of Hedy Lamar, "Bombshell: Hedy Lamar". The film is 1.5 hours long, followed by discussion. It will be presented by Zoom, and in-person at the home of Nancy Soulé for fully vaccinated members.

Tues., Feb. 8, 2 PM
Know My Name
by Chanel Miller
Leader: Diana Paul

Nancy Soulé
Evening Books
(in homes)
Tues., Jan. 18, 7 PM
Perestroika in Paris
by Jane Smiley
Leader: Miriam Lilley
Host: Donna Foote

Tues, Feb. 15, 7 PM
The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett
Leader: Mary Conway
Host: Pat Fletcher

Miriam Lilley
Hiking Group Resumes

We will schedule hikes and walks the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Hikes will begin around 9 or 10 AM, lasting about 1-2 hours. Specific information on each hike will be sent to the Hiking Group about a week before each hike.

Wednesday, January 5 (weather permitting), Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville. To carpool, meet in the parking lot near California Pizza Kitchen at Del Monte Shopping Center. We will decide then who will drive. Be prompt so we can leave by 9:15 and reach the Reserve by 10:00. We will hike the Five Fingers Loop Trail (1.1 mile) and the Long Valley Loop (0.8 mile). These are fairly flat with some ups and downs near the water. If it rains, the hike will be canceled. If you are coming, please RSVP to Chris Parmentier at (408) 427-2740 or by email.

Wednesday, January 19, 10 am. Pacific Grove Scenic Loop Walk. Meet by the whale sculpture in Berwick Park, on Ocean View Boulevard between 9th and Carmel Avenue, Pacific Grove (free street parking). This is an easy 1.5 mile walk on flat surfaces starting by the ocean bluffs and heading inland passing some interesting art and murals discovered in Pacific Grove. Restrooms midway. RSVP to Nancy Soulé at (831) 236-3763.

Wednesday, February 2, 10 am - Carmel Scenic Road Walk. Meet at Ocean Ave. and Scenic Road. RSVP to Pat Fletcher at (408) 373-5800 or by email.

February 16 - Ardith Peck - Palo Corona walk
March 2 - Susan Murphy - Mission Trail walk
March 16 - Nancy Soulé - Historic Homes walk, Monterey 
April 6 - Donna Foote - Marks Ranch 
April 20 - Ardith Peck - Fort Ord Dunes State Park
May 4 - Chris Parmentier- Garrapata State Park
May 18 - Fatima Dias - Point Lobos State Reserve
On April 13 at 11 AM we will have a Hike Planning Meeting at the home of Susan Murphy, the details of which will be given later. 

Chris Parmentier and Ardith Peck, Co-ordinators

On December 4, our branch held a welcome brunch for eight new members and two prospective members at Joanne Webster's lovely home. After we all introduced ourselves and briefly conveyed our personal histories, Joanne challenged all of us with a fun quiz, shortly followed by an introduction to AAUW's mission and the efforts it sponsors to fulfill that worthy mission on the national, state and local levels. Based on the feedback we have received, the gathering was a resounding success, with the result that the two prospective members joined on the spot! Sincere thanks from Ardith and Debbie to our new members for your warm response and to Joanne and Fatima for organizing this event.

In early December, a list of all the additions and corrections of which we have become aware since the publication of the (bright pink!) 2021-2022 Monterey Peninsula Branch Directory was sent to members. It included all new corrections as well as the list published in November; the key tells which ones are new since November. (There should be 3 pages.) We also posted an updated complete directory for our branch at our local website (

Debbie Hobbs and Ardith Peck, Membership Vice-Presidents
To protect the information of our members, membership directory information about new members and changes for current members will not be shown in the newsletter. Instead, we will list their names, for you to go to the password-protected online directory (see the third column below) to see what is new, allowing you to make changes in your printed directory. - Editor
Directory Updates

Donna Gauvreau
new cell phone and email

Whitney Gravel
add to directory

Kathryn Greenwald
cellphone area code is 928

Susan Henderson
new address

Janelle LaFond
apartment M, not 2

Marylu Mesa
add to directory

Laurel Minik
add to directory

Sharyn Siebert
change email address

If there are errors or changes in your directory listing, please tell us so corrections can be made. - Editor
New Members

Peg Carlson-Bowen

Diana Morshead

Judy Nejasmich

Online Directory

The password to our password-protected online directory on our website in the Member Center is on the second page of your pink membership directory. (If you cannot find it, call Debbie Hobbs, 408-234-2436.) This is where all of our members' contact information is readily accessible.
New Member Bios

Peg Carlson-Bowen

Peg is a born-and-raised Silicon Valley baby. She attended UCSB and earned a BA in French Language, then earned a second BA at the University of Poitiers in France, where she acquired her 'starter' husband, Antoine. Returning home, she convinced a hiring manager that her ability as a translator was just what he needed to aid communication between business people and the IT staff. She spent the rest of her career in IT, working at Unisys, Activision, Apple and Cisco, retiring in 2009. Her second marriage added to the international nature of her family by marrying a Brit and adopting from Russia. She has been an active member of AAUW San Jose, but also enjoys programs in other branches and is occasionally on the Monterey Peninsula.

Diana Morshead

Diana started her career as an academic librarian working at the University of Michigan graduate library and, later at the Stanford medical library. Eventually she transitioned into user experience and spent the last 20 years of her career as an experience designer at Cisco and later, at Intuit. When they first moved to California, she and her husband fell in love with the central coast and have been plotting a move to this area ever since. She is passionate about preserving and protecting our spectacular coastline and the wildlife in the region. She volunteers at the SPCA Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. She enjoys reading, hiking with her Australian shepherd puppy, drawing, and is a mediocre but passionate weightlifter.

Judy Nejasmich

Judy attended USF, graduating with a BS in Accounting. She worked for several years on the audit staff of a national CPA firm, then went into private industry. She loves to travel - that would probably be a passion. She also loves to garden, swim, walk and read. She has a labradoodle puppy who is keeping her very busy trying to train. She has two children, but, sadly, no grandchildren.

Carr Lake Park Project of Big Sur Land Trust, Subject of Our Oct. Meeting

California State Parks has awarded Big Sur Land Trust nearly $8.5M from Prop. 68 funding, supporting the final design and construction of the neighborhood park element at the Carr Lake project in Salinas, including a nature playground, basketball court, skate spot, natural amphitheater, three small group picnic areas, two large 50+ group picnic areas with BBQs, trails, pathways, two restrooms, two parking lots with lighting, and landscaping throughout the park. This is the beginning of a 73-acre green space in the heart of the city, helping address the community’s need for parklands, while providing environmental benefits including ecological restoration and water quality improvements using nature-based solutions. California Wildlife Conservation Board recently approved a $776,000 grant to support preparation of the final design for the restoration/open space project on the remaining 67 acres at the site.

A Thank You and an Update on the 2018 Paradise Fire

Those of us who received so much help from AAUW members in California and elsewhere want to give an update and renew our thanks. One small plea posted on the AAUW California website and a few emails asking for help brought tens of thousands of dollars in gift cards, offers of housing, furniture, and, in the case of a member who couldn’t get her garage door open and had no replacement insurance—a car. The Paradise board, all of whom (except yours truly) lost everything, gathered frequently to sort mail and distribute the contributions to 35 of our 40 members. After their needs were fulfilled, we gave cards and checks to our Tech Trek families, most of whom also lost everything and often had fewer resources. We offered gas money to the son of Suzy and Paul Ernst, the couple who were trapped by the fire and spent many months in the U.C. Davis Burn Center. There were so many ways everyone’s contributions helped.

From all of us, thank you!
Carol Holzgrafe and every AAUW Paradise member
Some of the girls who attended Tech Trek last summer spoke at our September meeting.
At the December Holiday Party, 50-year membership pins were given to Susan Murphy, Karen Snow and Sandy Grimmer. Melva Simmons was not present.
We had good attendance and a good time at the Holiday Party. Shown are Alana Myles, Lucy Campen and Jeanne Gavrin.
Board Meetings
(via Zoom)

Jan. 6 at 3:30 PM

Feb. 3 at 3:30 PM




Mar./Apr. Messenger

Please email articles for the March/April newsletter to
Caryl Rojas by Feb. 15.


If you paid the full $98 AAUW yearly dues, $59 of that is tax deductible. In addition, any donations to our charitable funds will be tax deductible for a tax year if paid by December 31st of that year and if you itemize deductions. Note that a donation to any of these three areas can also be made in honor or in memory of a friend or family member.

More information and a donation form (optional) may be found at this link to our website. If making a donation directly from an IRA as a qualified charitable donation (QCD), consult your tax advisor or for further information.
Tech Trek

Make check payable to "AAUW-CA SPF"
with Tech Trek in the memo line.
Send to Pat Fletcher
6 Overlook Place Monterey, CA 93940-4106

Make check payable to "AAUW"
with AAUW Fund in the memo line.
Send your check to Gabriele Simbriger-Williams
880 Newton Street Monterey, CA 93940-1210
or donate at, including your member ID for credit to our branch.
Local Scholarships

Make check payable to "AAUW-MPB Local Scholarships".
Send your check to
Jeanne Krener
25180 Pine Hills Drive Carmel, CA 93923-8965
Newsletter Schedule

Newsletters are published around the 1st of the months of September, November, January, March and May. There will be short "eblasts", containing reminders or special announcements. If you do not receive a newsletter, please contact me so we can fix the problem.

Please note that newsletter content will relate only to AAUW and branch matters, a policy of AAUW National.

Caryl Rojas
Newsletter Editor
(831) 899-9141