143 Bostwick NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503                                    Phone: 616-234-3603


March 22, 2013
GGRWHC Board of Directors

Jo Ellyn Clarey,
Barbara McGregor,
 Vice President
Ruth VanStee,
Connie Ingham
Janet Brashler
Gayle Davis
Cindy Dorman
Falinda Geerling
Sharon Hanks
Kyle Irwin
Mary Jane Keeler
Jef McClimans
Jennifer Morrison
Kathy Rent
Mary Seeger
Jill Straub
Sarah Wagner
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Dear Council Friends! 


Next Thursday the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council will gather its members and friends for a reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our founding--and to conduct minimal business. We hope that you have the party on your calendar, and we hope that you have joined or renewed with us as a supporting member. You can pay reasonable and tax-deductible dues now (scroll down here) or at the event--and get a free glass of wine from a generous donor! When you recheck for details, you will note that we would like you to tell us you're coming at 616-454-2425 or


Thursday, March 28
5:00 pm: Hors d'oeuvres & wine ticket bar ($5/glass)
5:30 pm: Program
Women's City Club, Lower level auditorium, 254 Fulton Street
Free & Open to the Public

Mingle with founding Council members and join us for a look at where we've been and where we're going. The GGRWHC's mission has always brushed up against education as we recover and reintroduce women citizens from the past. We met another last week at Marcie Beck's presentation on an early activist in Grand Rapids education. If you missed the program, catch up by reading more about Josephine Ahnefeldt Goss by scrolling down our homepage ( or clicking on Sharon Hanks' story in the Rapidian: Josephine Ahnefeldt Goss. On the 28th we will toast the educator in all of us, especially our visionary founders!  

Last year: Gloria Lara, director of Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore, with GGRWHC friends Margie Gage & Marta Petter


As we continue to celebrate GGRWHC's 25th anniversary during 2013, we hope that you will consider helping us in more ways than with the financial. We will be offering many ideas to help preserve and disseminate area women's history. Join us on Thursday and invite friends to learn more about our efforts!


We will interrupt party and program just long enough to ask members to elect two candidates to join the GGRWHC board of directors and to make an easy change to our bylaws. We conduct the world's shortest annual meeting.

GGRWHC 2013 Candidates for the Board of Directors

Grand Rapids native Susan Johnson Coombes attended Michigan State University, majoring in Communications. Following work in radio in Lansing she moved abroad living in Europe, Africa, and Asia. While resident in Nigeria she was a member and then president of the International Women's Association. After two years in the Netherlands, where she worked as an information specialist on the Eastern Schelde Works (a storm surge barrier being built on an artificial island), she moved to Asia and spent 9 1/2 years in Hong Kong. Back in the US she lived for 13 years near Seattle and became a City of Issaquah Arts Commissioner. Currently retail manager for the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Coombes has also worked in the PR/Communications industry as a freelance producer and has been active in the local theater scene. On the national level, she served on the board of directors of the American Association of Community Theatre.


Ruth Stevens is a professor in the Legal Studies division of the Criminal Justice Department at Grand Valley State University. A history major as an undergraduate, she also has a J.D. degree and an M.A. in Library and Information Science. Stevens began a research project on early Grand Rapids attorney Ella Mae Backus while working at Thomas M. Cooley Law School and has presented locally on her research at the Great Lakes History Conference and various other groups. Her research on Ella Mae Backus drew from local history resources at the Grand Rapids Public Library (including the World War I registration cards) and helped her connect on projects with other members of the GGRWHC. She has written for both academic and popular publications and is interested in continuing her work on Ella Mae Backus and collaborating with others on local women's history projects.

BYLAWS: To review our current bylaws, click here:


On Thursday the current board  will ask the Council to ease its business by approving  the following amendments. Note sections in bold. Please mail to with any questions you wish to raise.



Section 3.2. Number and Term of Office. The board of directors shall consist of not less than ten (10) and not more than thirty (30) members, as determined from time to time by resolution of the board of directors. [ALTERATION: The board shall at all times include the officers and, as often as possible, standing or special committee chairs.]



Standing Committees

Section 5.3. Special Committees. Such other standing or special committees as may be necessary or desirable may be appointed by the president or elected by the board of directors. [ADD: Dues-paying Council members may serve as committee members or chairs of committees at the discretion of the board. In such cases, at least one director must be a member of said special committee.]



Not a current member of GGRWHC? Membership is easy
and helps offset the expenses associated with research and programming presented each year. Your membership helps to set the record straight on the women who've made history here in our community. 
And, continues to help women make history, every day! 

GGRWHC Board Meetings


Board meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 pm at the Vanderveen Center for the Book at the Grand Rapids Public Library. If you have suggestions for programs, oral histories or other items, please email us at or plan to attend a meeting.

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Forward this newsletter! Friends can sign up to receive it by clicking the button in the left hand margin. Don't assume they are with us--with every technological shift, we miss people.


Please take a moment to forward this message to others you know who may be interested in Women's History.  If you've received this message as a forward, consider joining our mailing list (click on the button in the left column above!) in order to receive future updates about programming.

Thank you for your interest in preserving and celebrating the history of the many phenomonal women who've helped to shape West Michigan!  If you aren't already a member of the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council, consider showing your support through annual membership.  Visit our web site for more information and the ability to register using Pay Pal online!

Hats off to the historical women who've shaped West Michigan!